by Dave Lackford
"Ordo ab chao" - Friedrich Nietzsche
The Universe is Chaos. Particles of matter hurtle through its infinite expanse. Through series after series of chance occurrences, matter collides, resulting in explosions, shock waves, nuclear fission, and other scientific terms I've purged from memory after that Astronomy final I barely passed. By way of the collisions and explosions, stars are born. Stars have tremendous gravitational fields which pull all the matter around them towards their centers. The denser material, rocks and stuff, get pulled closer to the star and that's where your planets like Earth wind up. This is how solar systems are formed.
In order for life to exist on a planet, certain conditions, like planetary alignment, the greenhouse effect, and other natural phenomena must occur to create an atmosphere that protects the planet from the sun, allowing for oxygen and water to form. Then and only then, can a planet begin to produce life forms, from single cell amoebas to my bad-ass kids.
Sometimes, the chaos of random collisions, explosions, and shock waves, creates a delicate and extremely rare harmony of life producing factors, and we get cool stuff like automatic shotguns, bourbon, and college football. When we aren't getting sauced off Evan Williams and fondling our Mossbergs, humans are trying to figure out how to control the chaos of the universe. From 1998 through 2013, an almost forgotten time known as the Bowl Championship Series era, a computer program would try to make sense of the college football universe through a statistical algorithm. Based upon a myriad of calculations, the BCS computers, and to a smaller extent, some sportswriters and coaches, would determine who had survived all of the collisions and explosions, to make it through the wormhole. For all of its flaws, the BCS usually got things right and even gave us the 2006 Rose Bowl, as well as the 2011 and 2014 National Championship games. Like virtually everything in the universe however, the Bowl Championship Series and its computers, were destroyed, as the gravitational pull of the NFL and its money making playoff Death Star ripped it apart. The college football bowl system has now been shattered into a four bowl game playoff system, creating three bowl games that matter, where there used to be only two.
This is how the universe works. When one star explodes, shock waves are sent out into space, creating the possibility for life where there once was not.
Some have said that the college football playoff system would diminish the meaningfulness of the regular season. I disagree. After TCU and Baylor were left out last season, many inside the sport suggested that the BIG12 should play a tougher out of conference schedule as well as maybe implementing a conference championship game, like everyone else. The BIG12 thumbed their noses at both suggestions, and merely back loaded their biggest match-ups to the end of the season, maybe thinking that if their champions survived those late season games unscathed, those big wins would be fresh in the minds of the voters, and get them into the playoffs. While none of the BIG12 teams scheduled tough out of conference opponents, programs in other conferences took heed. This gave us games like, Alabama v. Wisconsin, Michigan v. Utah, Auburn v. Louisville, and a few other intriguing early non-conference match-ups, like Memphis vs. Ole Miss. Expect this trend to continue in the seasons to come, because the playoff selection committee has put a heavy emphasis on strength of schedule. The SEC has actually led the charge in scheduling tougher out of conference opponents. If you're not an SEC program, you're gonna have to put a few more Power Five teams on your slate in order to impress voters at the end of the year. But if you are in the SEC, you can have one loss and still leap frog other unbeaten teams.
In a shocking turn of events, the SEC has two teams in the first playoff bracket.
The first playoff rankings were released last night. Right now, Clemson is #1, LSU is #2, Ohio State is #3, and one-loss Alabama sits at #4.
Here is a list of all the undefeated teams in the Playoff Rankings as of November 4th, 2015: Clemson, LSU, Ohio State, TCU (#8), Baylor (#6), Michigan State (#7), Iowa (#9), Memphis (#13), Oklahoma State (#14), and Houston (#25).
The following teams have one loss and are still in the hunt: Notre Dame (#5), Florida (#10), Stanford (#11), Utah(#12), Oklahoma (#15), FSU (#16), and Temple (#22). Somehow, a 7-1 North Carolina team was not ranked while 5 teams with two losses (Michigan #17, Ole Miss #18, Texas A&M #19, Mississippi State #20, and North Western #21) were.
How can teams with one loss, such as Bama and Notre Dame, be ranked over undefeated teams? Bama fans and Notre Dame will tell you that those undefeated teams "ain't played nobody yet." Let's just leave it at that. The Playoff rankings at this point are just fanfare. They mean nothing, like liberal arts degrees. Bama plays LSU on Saturday, so one of those teams will most likely not be in the top four next week. Forget the rankings, the only reason ESPN releases them the way they do is to create an hour long program in the 7 o'clock slot on a Tuesday night when there is virtually zero going on in the sports world. Instead of that sports agitprop, let's look big picture, in a universal sense, and see what perfect sequence of chaotic events can create the most unlikely, yet beautiful form of playoff life for this coming new year, and how it will shape the future.
A PLAYOFF WITHOUT THE SEC, BIG12, or PAC12:
The SEC could miss the playoffs if the following things occur: LSU defeats Alabama Saturday, giving the Pachyderms two losses, then lose to Ole Miss, a two loss team, before finally succumbing to Florida in the SEC Championship game. The Gators will fall to FSU, giving them two loses on the season, before winning the conference, and every team in the SEC will have two losses. This will cause an extinction level event in South Eastern America, lead by Paul Finebaum, Clay Travis, and the acolytes of Tim Tebow, of biblical proportions.
The Big 12 will eliminate itself because its teams don't play a lick of defense, has no conference title game, and puts garbage quarterbacks in the NFL like Sam Bradford, Brandon Weeden, and Derek Anderson. This is how it goes down, Baylor beats TCU then loses to Oklahoma. Oklahoma loses to TCU, who lost to Baylor and Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State on the other hand puts down TCU, but loses to Baylor and Oklahoma. In that scenario: Every Big-12 team finishes with two losses, and Art Briles floods Waco with his tears, again.
Before we get into the remaining conferences, let's get Notre Dame, the planetoid of the NCAA solar system, out of the conversation and say they lose to Stanford.
So what happens to the three remaining Power Five conferences?
The Big Ten puts two teams in the Playoffs. Ohio State goes undefeated during the regular season, defeating Michigan State along the way, before falling to an undefeated Iowa team in a nail biting Big Ten Conference Championship game. Two BIG10 teams are in. The riots in the streets of the South East rage on, hide your kids, hide your wife, and grab your 590 Tactical and some Makers Mark.
The ACC is the home of the current number one team in the country, the Clemson Tigers. Good luck with that Dabo. The Tigers will Clemson this weekend and fall to FSU. The Seminoles will then go on to run the table in the ACC, as well as defeat the Florida Gators in the Swamp, before stomping North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game, to sneak into the playoffs at number four. The Dark Side of the force prevails again as the 'Noles will represent the All Canes Conference in the playoffs.
Four conferences down and one to go and that leaves everybody's late night hook up buddies, the PAC-12 conference. As much as I love PAC12 after dark, I can't be seen with them in the day time, especially on New Years Day. After beating Notre Dame, Stanford will fall on its face against Cal, rendering them a two loss conference champion, as they beat UCLA in the PAC-12 championship game. What about Utah? Well they lose to UCLA in the regular season, elimitating them from the PAC-12 championship game and playoff contention. Nobody bats an eye when this happens. The only people that care about PAC12 football are sports writers that live on the East Coast, and they are too busy trying to flee the Carnage unleashed by millions of drunken shotgun wielding son and daughters of the SEC, led by a pissed off Phylis from Mulga, dressed as Joan of Arc, screaming roll tide.
Some have said that the college football playoff system would diminish the meaningfulness of the regular season. I disagree. If my super nova of a playoff scenario occurs, the emphasis to not only win all of your games, but to also schedule tougher out of conference opponents, increases. The stakes become much higher to dominate your regular season schedule. In fact, with only a four-team playoff, and all of the dollars at stake, it seems that the emphasis on the regular season may need to be taken down a peg. The only way to do that would be introducing an eight-team playoff system. Let me snatch your ear real quick Jack, if the SEC, BIG12 (again), and the PAC12 all miss out on the four team playoffs this year, that eight-team playoff is comin' in hotter than fish grease and fresh grits. There is no way in hell, that these big money conferences are going to sit back and watch millions of dollars go to the likes of a mid-major University of Memphis program. No sir, this four team playoff system is far to volatile and chaotic for the likes of risk-adverse billionaires.
This star is too big and too bright to last, it's far too unstable and will supernova soon, and no one will think twice to mourn its death, because this is how the universe works. When one star explodes, shock waves are sent out into space, creating the possibility for life in new systems where there once was not.