While the committee chairman’s words Tuesday night were promising, I still struggle seeing this happen for Michigan. I think people agree the best scenario is Colorado winning on Friday night, opening the #4 slot in the playoff.
First, via CFN here is how the committee selection process works:
2. Each member will list the best six teams, in no particular order. The six teams receiving the most votes will comprise the pool for the first ranking step. This is known as the “listing step.”
3. In the first ranking step, each member will rank those six teams, one through six, with one being the best. The best team in each member’s ranking will receive one point; second-best, two points, etc. The members’ rankings will be added together and the three teams receiving the fewest points will become the top three seeds. The three teams that were not seeded will be held over for the next ranking step.
4. Each member will list the six best remaining teams, in no particular order. The three teams receiving the most votes will be added to the three teams held over to comprise the next ranking step.
We also know the committee values head-to-head and conference championships, but not necessarily more than the other. And they only really look at these metrics when the teams are comparable. But the other thing Hocutt noted was that they don’t look ahead. To me, this implies is that they can’t (yet) place value on a potential conference championship, but they could once the conference championship is actually earned.
So back to the selection process. If Colorado drops Washington and Clemson beats Va Tech, let’s assume a few things:
- Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson will be the first 3 teams seeded. (Any final comparisons of Penn State against Ohio State will be handled and likely snuffed at this time.) That leaves a second group of six including the B1G champ, Michigan and Colorado.
- Given that, Michigan, the B1G Champ, and Colorado will be the top 3 teams on every ballot in that 2nd group of six. Yes, Oklahoma or Oklahoma State could crack that top 3 of the next group of six but it doesn’t seem likely barring a ridiculous blowout in that game.
- In this second group of 6, it’s unlikely that a voter will put Colorado over the B1G champ. I understand this is possible, but it’s unlikely given the weight the committee has clearly given to the B1G conference in general.
- This is important –> Given 2 of these teams will hold a conference championship this weekend, there will indeed be some voters who view Michigan, Colorado, and the B1G champ as comparable and some voters will now add tangible value to the teams with a conference championship on their resumes. And of course the result of these games is only new piece of information the committee has this weekend. Head to head has already been factored in.
- For simplicity I’m valuing the B1G champion equally. Clearly Michigan has the stronger head-to-head argument against Penn State (in many ways, you weird people), especially given the 39-point beatdown.
- FWIW, note that Barry Alvarez is recused if Wisconsin is in this next group of 6, which is likely. This leaves 11 voters.
A couple scenarios of how this could go:
Scenario #1 – Mild emphasis on conference championships.
- Six (6) first place votes (meaning most of the 11 voters put U-M ahead of Colorado and B1G champ for the final playoff spot)
- Three (3) 2nd place votes (a few voters put the B1G champ ahead of Michigan)
- Two (2) 3rd place votes (meaning 2 voters move B1G and Colorado ahead of Michigan, given their conference titles)
- B1G Champ (Wisconsin or Penn State)
- Five (5) first place votes
- Six (6) 2nd place votes
Under this scenario, Michigan would get the 4th playoff spot by a hair.
Scenario #2 – Medium emphasis on conference championships.
- Seven (7) first place votes
- Four (4) 3rd place votes (meaning 4 voters put B1G champ and Colorado ahead of Michigan)
- B1G Champ
- Four (4) first place votes
- Seven (7) 2nd place votes
Under this scenario, despite Michigan easily earning the most votes from the committee for that 4th spot, the B1G champ would get the 4th playoff spot by a hair. The Rose Bowl would likely select Michigan.
And you can see where it goes from there, depending on what the voters (or some of the voters) place on the conference championship. The point is that a slight shift from Michigan to the conference champions can swing this.
Oh, and god forbid we get full on Fulmer’ed – with one of these guys putting Michigan 4th or 5th or worse – because then we are truly screwed.
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