Ohio State missed the playoffs, despite winning the Big Ten and having a very solid resume of wins that included Penn State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin. Nevertheless, they also had two losses — Oklahoma by 15, and, most glaringly, letting Iowa hang 55 on them.
I have maintained that Ohio State vs. Alabama amounted to splitting hairs. The Buckeyes had better wins and worse losses. Alabama gets rewarded for having the cupcake Mercer on their schedule while Ohio State had an additional conference game.
I thought Ohio State would be picked because this would have been the most expedient result for the committee. The Big Ten has a zillion living alumni, and now three of the four teams in the playoffs are located in the southeast, a lack of geographic diversity that is bad for television ratings.
On Saturday, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany made the case in the Chicago Tribune for Ohio State to get in over Alabama:
“I feel we can make an argument that we’re the strongest conference,” he said. The crux of his argument: The Big Ten plays nine conference games and had the fewest matchups (three) with FCS opponents among Power Five conferences. The SEC plays eight conference games, and two weeks ago Alabama took out mighty Mercer of the FCS.
“We had the most FBS wins; we had the fewest FCS games,” Delany said. “We challenged ourselves in every way. I think our efforts to play more conference games, to schedule up to a reasonable degree, to reduce the number of mismatches should serve us well.”
It goes without saying that Delany is someone who has a lot of clout in the overarching process of all this — though, clearly, he did not have enough to ultimately get Ohio State in over Alabama. (Last year, Delaney said that “The construct that we got is a good one” and chided NCAA President Mark Emmert for saying there should be an eight-team playoff by quipping, “he doesn’t have a vote.”)