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Sport Opinion: Clemson getting left out of first College Football Playoff top 4 'doesn't matter'

17:40  06 november  2019
17:40  06 november  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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When the College Football Playoff committee convened to formulate its first rankings of this season, there was no shortage of strong cases. The top five teams in The Associated Press poll are all undefeated, and one of them is the defending national champion. [This is a developing story.

Clemson is vying for its fifth consecutive College Football Playoff berth Clemson has won two of the past three national titles and has established itself as one of the premiere programs in the sport. First CFP rankings are out . The first College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night.

Dabo Swinney did not know where his Clemson Tigers would land in the initial College Football Playoff Top 25 when he met with reporters Tuesday afternoon. But he was ready.

“It just doesn’t matter,” he said, in a statement that was probably parroted by every other coach in college football – and which should be echoed by every fan, but won’t be.

“If we’re 2, 3, 4, 15, it doesn’t matter,” Swinney went on. “It’s not worth the brain cells.”

True enough. But for the record, Clemson is No. 5 in the first rankings. The top four are Ohio State, LSU, Alabama and Penn State.

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The first edition of the College Football Playoff Rankings were released Tuesday night, and "Little ol' Clemson " doesn ' t need help to get in. But if it needed motivation for the stretch run, that arrived He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the

Clemson opened at No. 5 in the first College Football Playoff standings of the season, the selection committee revealed Tuesday night. In each of the previous five seasons, at least one of the four teams in the final bracket was ranked outside of the Top 4 in the initial standings.

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Two Big Ten teams. Two SEC teams. And all over college football, brain cells buzzing, because once again the results appeared to have been derived by a curious amalgam of methods.

This team is ranked here because of the eye test. That team is ranked there because of its resume. It’s a moving target, with wildly inconsistent reasoning from one team to the next. Just like it’s always been, from the beginning. Just like it’s designed to be.

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens, the selection committee chairman, has a thankless, basically impossible job. Each week, he gets sent out to answer questions and explain – sort of – how the rankings shook out like they did. The problem, of course, is that there’s likely never a real consensus among the 13 members as to why. But Mullens is tasked with saying something, and so we get comments like these:

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The College Football Playoff committee released its first rankings of the seasons. There were winners and losers including the Big Ten and Clemson . There’s an SEC feel atop the first College Football Playoff rankings, with three teams from the conference inside the top six, and the timing couldn’ t be

The first College Football Playoff Rankings will be released late Tuesday night, but we do not want I have PSU ahead of Clemson largely because of strength of schedule, but it has not won its better He was the first to bring RPI out in the open and is one of the pioneers of predicting the March

“Alabama is No. 3,” Mullens said Tuesday night, “because committee members are impressed with its overall performance and quality of play on both sides of the ball. Penn State is No. 4 because of its strong play, which includes wins over Michigan and Iowa.

“Penn State’s strength of schedule gave it an edge over an impressive Clemson, which we ranked No. 5.”

And this is where we have to reiterate Swinney’s point: Simmer down, y’all. Yeah, it’s odd and sometimes infuriating, how the selection committee evaluates one team compared to another. But the committee itself suggests these rankings don’t matter. For the next four Tuesdays, these are fun but ultimately pointless exercises, made-for-TV programming.

a group of baseball players standing on top of a large crowd of people: Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney and running back Travis Etienne  sing the alma mater after defeating the Wofford Terriers at Clemson Memorial Stadium.© Adam Hagy, USA TODAY Sports Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney and running back Travis Etienne sing the alma mater after defeating the Wofford Terriers at Clemson Memorial Stadium.

Only the final Top 25 holds real meaning. It comes out Dec. 8. (And that final ranking, when the actual four-team bracket is set, is the first time the committee can apply “conference championships won,” one of the stated criteria to determine among similar teams.)

Ohio State, LSU top initial College Football Playoff rankings; Clemson at No. 5

  Ohio State, LSU top initial College Football Playoff rankings; Clemson at No. 5 Joe Burrow and LSU are ranked No. 2 heading into their trip to face No. 3 Alabama.It is the first time in 25 edition’s of the committee’s rankings that Clemson has not been in the top four.

But playoff selection should be more about the eye test. Georgia was one of the four best teams That said, I fully expect Clemson to reach the playoff . I can’ t see the committee leaving out an Tuesday night’s first College Football Playoff ranking may reveal a lot about which direction this is

The first College Football Playoff rankings from the committee were released Tuesday. Alabama and LSU will meet Saturday in Baton Rouge. The loser likely will fall out of the top four . Michigan, Georgia and Oklahoma were just off the pace in fifth through seventh, respectively, and could move up.

But yeah. We know. Someone’s going to howl, each and every preliminary week, at the snapshot of how the committee sees college football. Or the reasons they arrived there. This time, it’s Clemson’s turn.

Everyone understands that if Clemson keeps winning, the Tigers will be in. They could move up as soon as next week, after LSU and Alabama play each other. But that doesn’t make the initial ranking any easier to figure.

Somehow during the first two-thirds of the season, a distorted perception of the Tigers has crystallized into consensus.

Back in September, Clemson escaped North Carolina, 21-20. If Mack Brown had gone with a different two-point play, the Tigers might not have. But they did. And their other eight games have been routs.

Yet it sometimes feels like, in the conversation about Clemson, that narrow win over the Tar Heels is being conflated with inconsistent performances by sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence – up and down instead of steadily spectacular – as though the entire team has struggled, all season long. Add a soft ACC schedule, and a picture has been painted that bears little resemblance to how Clemson has actually performed.

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The Tigers’ average margin of victory is 32.6 points. Their offense ranks third nationally; their defense ranks fourth. Quite simply, Clemson is very good.

And that brings us back to Swinney, who was asked Tuesday afternoon whether Clemson might need style points to impress the selection committee – never mind, again, that Clemson is scoring 44 points a game and allowing less than 12. Again, Swinney was ready.

“It’s the same ol’ spin,” he said. “I mean, who has beat Alabama in the SEC? Who’s beat them? How many games have they lost in the last five years in their conference? You’ve got to really think about that, don’t you? It ain’t many.”

It’s two. In the last four-plus seasons, Alabama is 38-2 against SEC opponents. In that same span, Clemson is 40-2 against ACC opponents.

But never mind who’s beaten Alabama over the last few years. This season, who has Alabama beaten?

If we’re taking shots at Clemson’s schedule and the ACC as a whole, that’s fine. Fire away, because the league is way down and Clemson’s nine opponents are a combined 38-40 (.487). But Alabama’s eight opponents are 28-41 (.405).

Meanwhile, Penn State (8-0) is ranked No. 4 based on resume. The Nittany Lions have beaten Michigan and Iowa (ranked 14th and 18th, respectively).

“At the end of the day, when the committee watched Alabama, what they saw is a team that’s being dominant against that schedule,” Mullens said, “and that was the difference between Alabama and Penn State.”

And apparently between Alabama and Clemson, too. It’s hard to figure what the committee did not see when it watched Clemson, which has been dominant against its schedule. But if your brain is beginning to boil, Tiger fans, just keep repeating Swinney’s mantra:

For now, at least, it just doesn’t matter.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Opinion: Clemson getting left out of first College Football Playoff top 4 'doesn't matter'

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