The Curious Case of TCU


I haven’t had a good rant in a while, but I figured this was rant worthy.  As some of you may have noticed, TCU dropped 3 spots in the CFP committee’s ranking this week to #18 after beating the Jayhawks this weekend.  Although it may not have been in an impressive fashion one should keep in mind Boykins left early in the 1st quarter, but this isn’t about the TCU and Kansas game.  No, I want to focus on Navy jumping 4 spots for beating a bad SMU team and moving ahead of TCU.  Here at Big 12 Fanatics we love the Armed Forces and are grateful for their service to our great country. In fact, I once wrote an article saying we should invite Army and Navy into the Big 12 and still think that would be a great way to expand, so this isn’t a slam on Navy, this is a slam on the system.

So here are the facts:

  1. TCU is getting criticized by just about everybody for not playing a tough out of conference schedule and they have nobody to blame but themselves.  The thing is, the first two weeks of the season, TCU actually gained a point in the AP poll after going 2-0 and was firmly in 3rd place by themselves after playing  at Minnesota and Stephen F. Austin. In week 3 TCU played SMU, their longtime rival that is always on their schedule, beat them by 19 points and dropped 19 votes in the AP poll down into a tie for 3rd place.  A couple weeks later, only after playing Big 12 opponents they eventually regained their lost votes, set their high water mark on the season for AP votes by moving into 2nd place, but the fact remains they lost votes after beating SMU and dropped into a tie.
  2. TCU and Navy both have one loss coming from two of the heavyweights this year, undefeated Oklahoma State for TCU and 1 loss Notre Dame for Navy.
  3. Both teams have out of conference games that they schedule every year.  TCU always plays SMU with 95 games between them, Navy has played Army 115 times with the last game missed being back in 1929, and Navy playing Notre Dame is currently have the longest uninterrupted series in college football going back to 1927.  So you could say that they have some prior commitments to take care of.  That means they have two and one games respectively that they can schedule.  Keep in mind, that while Notre Dame is a formidable team for an out of conference game, TCU’s schedule plays the entire Big 12, while Navy’s schedule plays a random draw of the American Conference.  So how do these two stack up on out of conference opponents of their choosing?  TCU signed to play at Minnesota, a respectable Big Ten opponent, and then an FCS cream puff in Stephen F. Austin of the Southland Conference.  With Navy’s one opening they signed an FCS cream puff, the Patriot League’s Colgate, to add to their already weaker American Conference schedule.
  4. This week Navy shoots up 4 spots to #16, ahead of TCU now at #18, in the CFP Committee’s ranking for beating SMU, the same team TCU was punished for playing.
  5. The Committee dropped TCU 4 spots this week for beating a terrible P5 team in Kansas, yet raised Navy 3 spots for beating a terrible G5 team in SMU.  No matter the scores is it really worth a 7 spot swing in the poll for beating a terrible G5 team compared to a terrible P5 team?  It doesn’t make sense.
  6. Two loss Stanford dropped 4 spots to #11 in the CFP poll for losing to an unranked Oregon this week.  Remember, one loss TCU dropped 3 spots to #18 for beating a bad Big 12 team.

So what is this all about?  Why is TCU dropping like a rock for winning against really bad P5 teams?  Why is Navy shooting up through the roof for beating really bad G5 teams?  Why is Stanford dropping about the same as TCU for actually losing to unranked teams?

The answer lies in South Bend.  Both Navy and Stanford are on Notre Dame’s schedule this year.  TCU happens to be on Oklahoma, Baylor and Oklahoma State’s schedule, so there is the main difference.  This is the game they play.  A couple tricks here and all of the sudden one loss Navy and and two Stanford are better wins than TCU (and presumably our other Big 12 teams as they lose down the stretch).  Outside of their own teams ranking, the random jumps going on with the teams who have no chance to make the playoffs are largely being ignored by the public because nobody is really paying attention to anything but the top 6 or 7 spots.  This is the trick, because the teams they rank in the #5 to #25 range will be in the end what they use to justify their top 4 playoff picks.  If Notre Dame wins out they will specifically point to the big win against Stanford and that Navy was a better win for Notre Dame than TCU was for any of the Big 12 schools.  What they won’t point to, and nobody will care to research, is how three weeks before the final vote Navy innocuously jumped TCU without merit by a combined 7 spots in the rankings to become a better win.

So am I actually accusing the committee of cooking the books in order to get certain teams in the playoffs that they and their tv partner prefer?  I’ll let you decide.

In the words of a great man who inspired this topic, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we are getting done dirty.