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The final Playoff ranking should include every FBS team

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The Banner Society Advent Calendar’s entry for December 16.

The final Coaches Poll of the season, which come out a few days after conference championships are played, should be circled on your Pettiness in Sports calendar every year. The ranking itself has no real import, but unlike its in-season editions, this last poll includes the full ballots of every coach who voted. That level of granularity gifts unto us intellectual clashes like “Nick Saban ranked his team fifth in 2019 and Kirby Smart put the Tide at 11, which surely didn’t stick in Saban’s mind when Bama beat Georgia by 17 this season.”

Essentially, this public platform gives the leaders of the sport license, for one very special day every year, to talk shit about one another without ever actually saying a word. How delightful is that?

I don’t expect the College Football Playoff Committee to ever follow suit with that level of transparency. The hate mail to the voter who puts Ohio State third instead of second, even though that changes nothing for the Buckeyes, would be hell on its own.

But I do think the Committee can provide a different service at the end of the year: Give us a ranking of every single FBS team. Sure, that’s a major task, but consider: The Playoff Committee’s already doing more work than they need to every week. (They also don’t get to complain when Chris Vannini does this for The Athletic every week without a per diem and a hotel suite.)

From a strictly technical standpoint, the Committee only needs to give us a list of twelve teams – the four programs in the Playoff itself, and the eight in the New Year’s Six games. Everything else is either surplus or self-aggrandizing; after all, one of the factors the Committee looks at is a team’s record against the Top 25, even though the Committee is the one deciding who’s in the Top 25 in the first fucking place.

Look at the agita coming out of this latest ranking. There are perfectly good reasons to be mad about Florida only moving one spot down (to seventh) after losing at home to 3-5 LSU, or Cincinnati dropping while Iowa State jumped when neither team played, or 11-0 Coastal Carolina being behind three two-loss teams. But those are fights entirely in that surplus range; if the Committee just said “here’s the top four right now, and here’s the highest ranked Group of Five team for bowl purposes,” well, it’d have been a pretty quiet Tuesday night.

The way I see it, if you’re gonna piss some people off, why not piss EVERYONE off? (Please do not force me to consider how this stance has impacted my professional history.) In addition to fighting over the relative merits of Louisiana and Iowa State, who definitely didn’t play each other this season, we could be getting into heated debates about whether Tennessee or Florida State is the better 3-6 team.

Who doesn’t want that!

Then the Committee gets to trot out its Chairman, Gary Barta, for an endless stream of questions about what the Committee was thinking and what criteria mattered and how he can possibly explain some of these wild inconsistencies. You think we’re getting funny quotes from the man with a Top 25? Imagine the verbal contortions he’ll twist himself into when he’s on hour four of questions and having to explain what weight the Committee put into Cal’s special teams struggles in the Stanford game while ranking the Bears 72nd.

I will admit, ranking every team is stupid, unnecessary, and doomed. But so is 95% of what the Committee does now, considering they could just say “we’re taking the four Power Five teams we like best, and that will usually not include a Pac-12 school.” If they’re already that good at pointless rabble-rousing, I say, why not rouse even more rabble?

God bless us, every one.