The Memphis Tigers are caught in the crosshairs of a College Football Playoff system that forces the underlings to make game-show decisions of scheduling risk\reward.
Sometimes, also, it’s just good and bad luck.
I love the Tigers’ chances to go 13-0 this year competing in the competitive American Athletic, the best “Group of 5” conference and not much worse than the ACC if you put Clemson on one-year probation.
Yet, I hate the Tigers’ chances of even being considered for the four-team CFP playoff because that schedule won’t wash in a system always rigged in favor of the power-tool leagues.
Schools not associated with the SEC & Co. must go above and beyond the pale to impress a selection committee mostly comprised of people IN the system.
It took Boise State years, in the old BCS cabal, to build up a case to tie together a Mouse Trap Game contraption connection sequence worthy of consideration. In the end, though, the marble always missed the diving board falling off the bath tub.
In a weird way, the expansion of the playoff to four-teams in 2014 made it harder, not easier, for a team like Memphis and its schedule.
Houston, in 2016, had a chance after it knocked-off No. 3 Oklahoma in the opener. The Cougars were 5-0 and No. 6 in the polls before a playoff-ending, six-point loss at Navy. Houston also third-ranked Louisville later that year but couldn’t handle SMU.
Memphis, this year, plays Mississippi and Navy in nonconference and some years that would have been fine.
Florida, in 2008, lost at home to Ole Miss and still won the national title.
But Ole\Navy isn’t what it used to be. The Rebels are coming off a 5-7 and figure to be shark chum this year in SEC West. Navy was 11-2 in 2015 but last year finished 3-10.
Memphis also misses Central Florida on the regular-season schedule (a missed opportunity to avenge last year’s 31-30 crushing loss).
This will help Memphis go undefeated, but not make the playoff.
A 13-0 record should put the Tigers in the poll-vicinity company of a three-loss Texas A&M but mark this down: Memphis will be a hoot to watch. The Tigers, last year, averaged 523 yards and 43 points per game.
They seem a dead-lock cinch to improve on last year’s 8-6 and earn half-hearted platitudes from a selection committee spokesman.
A reporter’s query of “But they beat Ole Miss” might be answered by “Ole Miss is 0-5 in the SEC West AND lost to Memphis.”
The spokesman will conclude “The schedule strength just isn’t there.”
How do you win arguments like these?
You can’t, because the answers were baked, years ago, into the recipe.