The NFL Returning To Los Angeles Now Imminent

 

by Vincent Frank

Many football fans east of the Mississippi woke up to some rather big news around the National Football League on Wednesday morning. In a midnight vote, the city council in the Southern California city of Inglewood unanimously approved the construction of a new 80,000-seat NFL stadium.

Construction on the stadium is now slated to start later this year.

There are so many different layers to this story. The stadium proposal that Inglewood approved early Wednesday morning is backed by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke and the huge real estate investment management firm Stockbridge Capital Group. Both are major players in this story. Stockbridge owns the 238-acre lot of land at Hollywood Park in Inglewood. Meanwhile, Kroenke, who had previously met with Inglewood Mayor James Butts multiple times, owns his own 60-acre lot of land at Hollywood Park.

Mayor Butts, who has been out in the forefront regarding this stadium plan for a while now, oversaw the city council meeting that ultimately led to the city approving construction of the 80,000 seat venue. Interestingly enough, the vote also enables Inglewood to bypass a city-wide ballot initiative and start construction on the new venue. And while it also eliminates some environmental hurdles, Stockbridge had already done its due diligence on that front.

Now that we have a bit of the back story covered, let’s check in on what this means.

No NFL Team In Los Angeles In 2015

This is important to note. The NFL scrapped any plans of relocating a team to Los Angeles in time for next season. In fact, that’s when the three teams—St Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders— potentially looking to relocate to the nation’s second-largest media market started making strong pushes for 2016.

Even if a team were to move to Los Angeles in 2016, it would have to play at a temporary location for at least one year. Construction on the Hollywood Park location in Inglewood isn’t slated to start until December. That’s where the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Rose Bowl and Dodger Stadium come into play as temporary digs. Though, there is no support from any of those venues or the National Football League for a team to play at those locations for 2015 and 2016. Simply put, it’s not happening.

Raiders Rams Football

Let’s start with the Rams. This is a team that’s most likely to end up in Southern California in time for the 2016 season. The organization is currently on a year-by-year lease with the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis and has indicated multiple times that it would not commit to the city long term without changes on the stadium front.

The issue with St. Louis actually building a new stadium is that it would need public financing to get off the ground. A recent poll conducted by the Missouri Alliance for Freedom suggests that 70 percent of St. Louis’ citizens oppose a public bailout of the stadium issue. Other recent polls also suggest a trend away from public support of a new stadium.

As we mentioned before, Rams owner Stan Kroenke has led the push for a new stadium in Inglewood. In partnership with the aforementioned Stockbridge Capital Group, there doesn’t seem to be a lot standing in the way of a move. This is only magnified by the fact that reports indicate the Rams owner is willing to pay a relocation fee in order to avoid receiving the necessary votes from other league owners to relocate to Southern California. This bit of information would have set into motion a protracted legal battle between the league and the Rams, but it appears that the Inglewood plan may throw that out the window.

Looking to build a new stadium in Oakland for the better part of the past two decades, the Raiders are at their wit’s end. The San Francisco Chronicle reported recently that talks between the two sides will break down within the next month should they fail to make significant progress on a new stadium. The tension between Oakland and the Raiders also took on a new life when the organization announced a joint plan with the San Diego Chargers to build a stadium in Carson, California. Adding even more fuel to the fire, the Raiders are also on a year-to-year lease with Oakland Coliseum—the only two-sport football and baseball stadium remaining in the United States.

Former Raiders CEO Amy Trask sent out an ominous message to Raiders fans in Northern California in a recent appearance on a local radio station by indicating that there was a significant possibility the team would relocate.

All this is with the backdrop of Raiders owner Mark Davis meeting with officials in both Los Angeles and San Antonio regarding relocation over the past several months. It also comes at a time when the San Francisco 49ers, who have cornered the Northern California market, became the first team to build a new stadium in the state since 1967. There is something to be said about reading between the lines here. However, I am not sure that’s even necessary at this point. Barring a dramatic change in the political landscape in Northern California, the Raiders will not be playing in Oakland come 2016.

 

Then you have the San Diego Chargers, who might very well be out of luck as it relates to a potential move north. Much like Mark Davis in Oakland, Chargers owner Dean Spanos has been fighting the good fight with the city of San Diego.

After a week’s worth of public sparring regarding the stadium issue, Spanos and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer took part in a one-on-one meeting this past weekend. The end result was a ratcheting down of the public spin game.

Though, it’s important to note the city won’t use taxpayer money to build a stadium without the initiative going to a public vote some time in 2016. In addition to this, the Chargers don’t have the corporate bankroll to line their pockets in the southernmost California city. Moving into a larger market like L.A. would afford the Chargers the potential of creating the necessary back end cash flow to build a new stadium. Doing so in partnership with the Raiders would create even more support.

As of right now, the situation doesn’t seem to be sustainable in San Diego. A poll released by U-T San Diego shortly after the Chargers announced their joint venture with Oakland suggested that only 39 percent of the local citizenry believes the government should use taxpayer money to build a new stadium. That same poll indicated that public support for the Chargers is eroding in the city. So even if the two sides were to come to an agreement on a new stadium, there’s no public support for it to pass a ballot initiative.

You see it clearly now. The red tape and local politics that come with attempting to build a new stadium in California is one of the reasons why there haven’t been many built over the past half century or so. The good news for those hoping the NFL returns to L.A. in the not-so-distant future is that Inglewood bypassed all this red tape with its vote Wednesday morning.

What This Means For The Carson Location

The plans in Carson and Inglewood are vastly different. One is in the most infant of stages, while the other one is months away from breaking ground on a new stadium. While there is a lot of electricity over the Raiders and Chargers stadium plan in Carson, there’s even more red tape. Both teams have indicated that that they are going to work with their local markets before moving forward on the plan. It’s also a plan that has not been voted on by the city of Carson and hasn’t even reached the point of groundwork being laid out at the potential location.

 

As it relates to Inglewood, everything we have mentioned above indicates that the stadium plan will move forward without a hiccup. It doesn’t need approval from league owners to start construction, the situation has been taken out of the voter’s hands and there’s a whole boat load of cash behind the plan. This doesn’t even take into account the fact the Rams are hellbent on returning to Southern California and have the backing of both the local government and those who own the land the stadium will be built on.

This doesn’t mean that the Carson location is completely off the table. Rather, it’s an indication that the infancy of the project leaves us guessing about the reality of it ever coming to fruition.

And while the city of Los Angeles is the nation’s second-largest media market, there’s no real chance that three teams will relocate. More than anything, that puts the city of Oakland in a precarious position and the Raiders in the driver’s seat when it comes to negotiations. With two potential Southern California venues and the public backing of a bitter division rival, the Raiders’ threats of leaving Oakland are no longer idle. It also puts the Raiders in a difficult situation. They need to play their cards close to the vest in the coming weeks. Both Carson and Inglewood could be viable locations for the team. It’s important that they don’t show their hand.

What To Expect

The Rams will be playing football somewhere near the L.A. city limits in 2016. We can almost etch this into stone right now. There are too many factors leading to that result for anyone to realistically argue otherwise.

This potentially pits the Raiders and Chargers against one another. Does one scrap the Carson plan and attempt to work with the Rams on a two-team stadium in Inglewood? Does one of them do that without being given some type of ownership over the venue? If that’s not a viable conclusion for either Oakland or San Diego, do the two teams decide to test the limits of the Southern California market and the cash of those involved in the Inglewood plan and continue on their path to Carson?

You see. There’s a lot more questions than answers right now. If the Raiders or Chargers come to some sort of an agreement in their local market, a lot of this changes. Though, it must be noted that Mark Davis and the city of Oakland are likely not at the point where significant progress will be made in the coming weeks. That leaves Dean Spanos to work with an equally untrustworthy local government in San Diego. Should one of the two remain home, the plan becomes rather simple. The other joins forces with the Rams in Inglewood, and the Carson plan is scrapped.

Outside of the Rams moving to Inglewood, a lot of this is going to be conjecture. However, the most common sense end result has to be the Raiders and Rams playing somewhere in Los Angeles during the 2016 season before moving to Inglewood together the following year.

 

 

Kansas City-Shawangunks -New York

Photograph by Henry C. Barber, Mountain Ventures Photo

First free ascent: John Bragg, 1973, rated 5.12b. In New York’s scenic Shawangunk Mountains, an early epicenter of climbing in the United States, the hard free-climbing charge in the 1970s was led by a quintet of climbing supermen known as the “Front Four”: “Hot” Henry Barber, John Bragg, John Stannard, and Steve Wunsch. Among “Gunks” climbers, the rating 5.12 was so difficult, it existed only in their imaginations until Bragg freed the massive, powerful roof of a climb called Kansas City. Bragg was one of the first Americans to climb both rock and ice near the highest levels of the scale, applying his skills on alpine climbs like the first ascent of Torre Egger in Patagonia.

Here Stannard is seen on Kansas City soon after Bragg’s landmark first free ascent in 1973.

Super Bowl 2014: What the Heck Just Happened?

 

 
Seahawks Rout Broncos
By Tim McDonald
NFL Expert

Quarterback Peyton Manning - Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos looks on from the bench in the third quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLVIII.  Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

 

The 2014 Super Bowl was billed, with good reason, as the highest-octane offense in the history of the NFL against one of the best defenses to ever play a Super Bowl.

Everybody expected a close, gripping game. What we got was a stunning blowout. The Seattle Seahawks whipped the Denver Broncos by a humiliating 43-8 and they did it by thoroughly outplaying them in every facet of the game.

They smothered Peyton Manning and his all-world receiving corps. Their offense mauled the Denver defense. Their special teams sped past Denver’s special teams like the Broncos were standing still.

 

Seattle scored pretty much every way you can score on an American football field: On the ground, through the air, safeties, field goals, interception returns, kickoff returns … Am I missing anything? Didn’t one of the Seahawks hit a three-pointer?
Men Against Boys

The Seahawks looked for all the world like men playing a man’s game while the Broncos looked like a high school team overwhelmed in the state playoffs.

The biggest stunner was stopping Denver’s offense, though in retrospect it should not be. Seattle played its normal, high-intensity defense. They pressured and rocked Manning and took him out of his precision passing scheme. They rocked the Broncos’ receivers every time the ball was in the vicinity.

Big offenses get all the glory, but I have to say it is a joy to watch this Seattle defense. These guys just do not miss tackles. They are quick, strong and smart and they hit like howitzers.
Stats, Not Points

They were the team, so young and inexperienced, that was supposed to be starry-eyed over all the Super Bowl craziness. Not the wily, veteran Broncos.

But, it was Denver that seemed to be rattled, right from the start with that crazy snap over Manning’s head that resulted in first blood, the Seattle safety that gave them the unlikely 2-0 lead.

Manning set a Super Bowl record for completing 34 of 49 passes for 280 yards, but unfortunately for Manning and the Broncos, those are just stats, not points.

And once the Broncos fell behind, the game was never truly in doubt. For all his astounding numbers, Manning has never been a quarterback who leads his team back from the brink of disaster. He doesn’t do comebacks.
Wilson’s Night

The truly effective quarterback on this night was Seattle’s Russell Wilson. Wilson had shrunk from the legendary shadow Manning cast in the two weeks leading up to the game. This was supposed to be Manning’s coronation, and Wilson was just an afterthought.

Wilson, at 5-11, was supposed to be too short for a pro quarterback, and he looked like a kid next to the tall, angular Manning.

But, the second-year man – only the sixth quarterback taken in the 2012 draft – was 18 of 25 including 11 completions in a row and two touchdowns for the Seahawks.

He was cool, calm and collected, as he has been through the whole season and playoffs. He directed the Seahawk offense like a maestro. He hit his receivers in stride, scrambled when he had to and spread the wealth amongst his own group of anonymous receivers.
Overlooked But Not Outplayed

Speaking of receivers, ever heard of a couple fellas named Jermaine Kearse or Doug Baldwin? In the hoopla leading up to the game, they were completely overshadowed by Denver receivers Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker and tight end Julius Thomas. But, it was Kearse and Baldwin who were hauling in the big passes, breaking tackles and scoring touchdowns Sunday.

That was the story overall. The overlooked team from up there in the cold, drizzly Pacific Northwest against the big, shiny stars from Mile-High Denver.

Little did most people know, all week the Seahawks absorbed all this talk about greatness and legacies and Hall of Fame stuff – all aimed at the Broncos. The Seahawks never complained and they always paid Denver due respect. But, they dropped hints. Yes, the Broncos are a great team, but just wait for Sunday. And when Sunday came, they were ready.

Said Denver Coach John Fox: “We ran into a buzz saw.”

College Football Bowl Preview Part II 2014

Nebraska football - (Getty Images)

 

Nebraska will take on USC in a marquee bowl matchup in the Holiday Bowl.  (Getty Images)

 

At the start here, let me go ahead and point out (proudly, it must be said) that my bowl season simply could not be starting out much better. I mean, my picks have been dead-on.

In fact, after the first weekend of bowl action, my record stands at a remarkable (yeah, I said it: remarkable) 5-0.

It just doesn’t get any better than that, dear readers.

Whether or not I can keep up this pace remains to be seen. But I’m going to give it a shot anyway, as I offer my picks and predictions for the next round of 2014-2015 bowl games. Enjoy.

December 26

Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dec. 26, 1 p.m., ESPN)

Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech: It seems like we say this pretty much every year, but yeah, this is a big bowl season for the Big Ten. But though I’d like to say that I have some level of confidence in the Illini, well, I don’t. Louisiana Tech 28, Illinois 17

Quick Lane Bowl (Dec. 26, 4:30 p.m., ESPN)

Rutgers vs. North Carolina: I’d like to say I have some level of confidence in Rutgers, too. Well, I don’t. North Carolina 24, Rutgers 13

BITCOIN St. Petersburg Bowl (Dec. 26, 8 p.m. ESPN)

N.C. State vs. UCF: Remember way back in September, when the 2014 college football season kicked off with that comeback win by Penn State over in beautiful Dubiln, Ireland? Remember who the Nittany Lions beat? Yep, they beat UCF. And given what we saw out of Penn State in the second half of the season this year, you have to wonder how UCF managed to let that opener slip away. Central Florida 34, N.C. State 27

December 27

Military Bowl (Dec. 27, 1 p.m., ESPN)

Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech: I am still trying to figure out how in the world this completely average Virginia Tech team went into Columbus and thoroughly beat an Ohio State team that is playing as well as anyone in the country at the moment. Just a staggering result. Cincinnati 23, Virginia Tech 20

Hyundai Sun Bowl (Dec. 27, 2 p.m. CBS)

Arizona State vs. Duke: After the seasons these two teams just had, you have to wonder if both of them were expecting to do a bit better than the Sun Bowl (all due respect to the Sun Bowl, of course). David Cutcliffe continues to amaze with the Blue Devils. And he’ll pull the upset here. Duke 37, Arizona State 34

Duck Commander Independence Bowl (Dec. 27, 3:30 p.m., ABC)

Miami vs. South Carolina: A wonderfully named bowl game that will this season welcome two teams enduring borderline miserable seasons. In a battle of Who Cares Less?, the Ball Coach will, well, outcoach Al Golden. Who simply hasn’t delivered the results I expected him to in Coral Gables. South Carolina 21, Miami 17

New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 27, 4:30 p.m., ESPN)

Boston College vs. Penn State: No, it could not be said that either of these teams plays attractive football. And no, it could not be said that this figures to be among the most entertaining bowl games of the season. And yet somehow, it’s already sold out, and tickets are selling in the secondary market at more than $100 a pop. In other words, the Pinstripe Bowl people are pleased. Penn State 17, Boston College 14

National University Holiday Bowl (Dec. 27, 8 p.m., ESPN)

Nebraska vs. USC: A fantastic matchup for one of college football’s most consistently entertaining bowl games. I have no idea how the Huskers will react to the firing of coach Bo Pelini, but I am going to go ahead and assume that the reaction will not be a positive one. USC 38, Nebraska 28

Winners and Losers from Week 16

This is indeed a great time for winners and losers in the NFL. Talent is spread fairly evenly around the league, with the exception of most of Florida.

This is the time it takes a little more than talent, when the postseason pot is about to boil over because of the intense pressure.

It’s a dogfight now, and whoever performs best under pressure wins. He who doesn’t loses.

Sometimes this is such a simple game.

Here are my winners and losers from NFL Week 16.

Romo.jpg - Getty Images

Tony Romo and Cowboys clinch division. Getty Images

Winners

Dallas quarterback Tony Romo is the newest, hottest glamour boy at the NFL glamour spot. At various times this year, it’s been Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, among others.

Romo, whose critics say he never delivers in the clutch, is delivering in the clutch.

He threw four touchdown passes in Dallas’ 42-7 romp over Indianapolis and the Cowboys clinched the NFC West.

Love them or hate them, you have to admit the Cowboys are definitely for real this year. The Colts are one of the better teams in the league.

Detroit Lions: How come nobody’s talking up the Lions? They’ve got the same 11-4 record as Aaron Rodgers and the almighty Packers. Is it because the Lions have been losers for so long?

They beat the Bears 20-14 Sunday and now face those high and mighty Packers Sunday for the NFC North title.

– The Seattle Seahawks are the best team in the NFL right now, as we speak. They hammered the drooping Cardinals, 35-6, and racked up an impressive 596 yards of offense doing it. This came against a defense that is supposed to be one of the best in the league.

Pittsburgh Steelers clinch. The Steelers clinched a playoff spot with a win over the Chiefs. It’s always good to have the Steelers in the playoffs, where they belong. They’ve missed the party the last three years.

– The Houston Texans lost three quarterbacks and had to chase down Case Keenum out of the woods where he was hunting with a bow and arrows. Somehow, they still managed to beat Baltimore 25-13.

The Texans were 2-14 last year. They can make it into the playoffs with some help this weekend. That is one heck of a turnaround.

I guess they were smart in getting rid of head coach Gary Kubiak. Bill O’Brien for coach of the year?

– Ryan Tannehill completed 35 of 47 passes for almost 400 yards – 396 to be exact – and four touchdown passes in Miami’s win over Minnesota.

Still, the Dolphins will miss the playoffs for the sixth straight year. Despite that, Miami owner Stephen Ross says Joe Philbin will be back as head coach.

That shows how complacent the Dolphins have become about accepting mediocrity. Philbin is a bum and should be fired. Miami needs fresh blood.

– The Atlanta Falcons knocked the New Orleans Saints out of contention by beating them at home 30-14 after Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis said the Saints would send them to their funeral.

I’m going to pause while you Falcons fans revel. Go ahead, it’s good to revel. There’s so much trash-talking these days, it’s always healthy to bask in the glow of someone eating his words.

– The San Diego Chargers’ rousing, 38-35 rally over the 49ers keeps them in playoff contention. Philip Rivers, while we’re on this funeral kick, came back from the dead in the second half to throw three touchdown passes.

riley-cooper.jpg - Getty Images

Riley Cooper’s TD catch one of few bright spots in Eagles’ loss. Getty Images

Losers

– The Buffalo Bills beat Green Bay last week. This week they lost to the Raiders.

How is that even possible?

– A month ago, people were talking about the Philadelphia Eagles and the Super Bowl in the same breath.

Then they lost four straight, the last one at the hands of sinking Washington, who had lost six straight.

This is a collapse of black hole dimensions. Eagles fans are alternately outrageously angry and ridiculously grief-stricken.

– Mark Sanchez, Eagles quarterback. Poor guy, he sets an Eagles record with 37 completions in 50 attempts for 374 yards and two touchdowns, and all anyone cares to talk about is the one interception he throws.

Of course, that interception toward the end of the game led to the winning field goal by the Redskins.

The Eagles lead the league in turnovers with 37. They used to get away with that kind of sloppiness. Not any more.

“We were on borrowed time playing that kind of football,” safety Malcolm Jenkins told the media after the loss.

– Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher. He was burned again, this time by former teammate DeSean Jackson.

Jackson, gracious in victory, flopped his arms after the game, mocking his old teammates. He also called their defensive scheme “naïve,” which is true.

– The Kansas City Chiefs lost for the fourth time in the last five games and they can still make the playoffs.

– Peyton Manning threw four interceptions Monday night, allowing the Bengals to secure a playoff spot. Manning is heading south at a very bad time for Denver.

NFL List of Must Watch Games Dec 2014

Here is my list of the must-watch games this weekend as we hit the nerve-bending, tumultuous stretch run of the 2014 season. Good thing the Redskins are out of it.

Roethlisberger.jpg - Getty Images

Ben Roethlisberger hottest quarterback in NFL. Getty Images

Chiefs (8-6) at Steelers (9-5) Sunday 1 p.m.

The Steelers can clinch a playoff spot if they win.

On the other hand, the Chiefs have to win both their remaining games to assure themselves of a playoff spot.

The Chiefs still don’t have a touchdown pass to a receiver this year. They haven’t had a quarterback pass for 300 yards in two years.

On the other hand, the Chiefs defense has not allowed a 300-yard passer this season.

On the other hand, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has thrown for 300 yards in six of his last seven games.

Prediction: Steelers by five.

Cowboys-and-dez.jpg - Getty Images

Dez Bryant scores for Cowboys. Getty Images

Colts (10-4) at Cowboys (10-4) Sunday 4:25 p.m.

The Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a win and an Eagles loss or tie.

The Colts have already clinched their division, the AFC South, and there’s really no chance for a first-round bye.

The Colts are saying all the right things – you know, about not quitting – but it’s human nature not to have the same motivation as Dallas.

On the other hand, will they be looser than Dallas without the added pressure of scrambling for a playoff spot?

In any case, this should be a very entertaining game with two of the league’s top passing offenses.

Prediction: Cowboys by three.

saints-beat-bears.jpg - Getty Images

Saints beat Bears Monday night. Getty Images

Falcons (5-9) at Saints (6-8) Sunday 1 p.m.

Why watch these losers from the dreadful NFC South?

Hey, at least they don’t give up.

This game also has two pass-happy quarterbacks, too, in Matt Ryan and Drew Brees.

Prediction: Saints by 10.

seahawks.jpg - Getty Images

Seahawks contain 49ers. Getty Images

Seahawks (10-4) at Cardinals (11-3) Sunday 8:30 p.m.

What we have here sports fans is the two best teams in the NFC fighting man-to-man for the title of the best conference in the NFL, the NFC West.

Seattle has the obvious advantage because the Cardinals are down to the very end of the bench in quarterbacks.

They’re starting Ryan Lindley Sunday. Imagine this: A practice team guy against the dreaded Legion of Boom.

The Seahawks have won four in a row and show no signs of slowing down.

Prediction: Seahawks by 10.

Broncos-headed.jpg - Getty Images

Broncos headed to another Super Bowl?. Getty Images

Broncos (11-3) at Bengals (9-4) Monday 8:30 p.m.

The Broncos are playing for the Super Bowl. They can clinch a first-round bye with a win, which is vital if they expect to get there,

The Bengals would be happy to go fairly deep in the playoffs. They can clinch a playoff spot with a win over Denver.

Denver has a more balanced offense and a better defense than last year when it ran all the way to the Super Bowl.

Like Denver, the Bengals have been putting more emphasis on the ground game. That’s because they have Andy Dalton at quarterback instead of Peyton Manning.

Prediction: Bengals by one.

College Football Playoff: Final Rankings Reaction and Analysis 2014

Ohio State Big Ten Champions - (Getty Images)

 

Ohio State made a statement against Wisconsin–and earned a playoff spot in the process.  (Getty Images)

 

Predictably, it ended in controversy. And complaints. And two really, really unhappy fan bases.

The College Football Playoff was created to cure the alleged ills of the BCS, which was itself created to cure the alleged ills of the Bowl Alliance and all of the poll-based systems that preceded it.

And yet, anyone who really understands college football knew that the College Football Playoff was never going to cure anything. Because while the system expanded the “playoff” field from two teams to four, at its heart this new system is basically built on the same structure as all of the systems that came before.

That structure, broadly speaking, is this: A bunch of folks making their best guess at the best team in the country, or the two best teams in the country, or the best four teams in the country. That’s it.

There are no metrics here. No methodology. No objectivity, even. It’s all subjective. It’s all guesswork.

Which is to say, no, there is no way to know whether TCU and Baylor are in fact better than Ohio State. Or to say that Florida State, undefeated though they are, are one of the top four teams in the country. Or to say even that Alabama is the top team in the country. We just don’t know. We can only guess. And that’s what the committee did, too.

FINAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RANKINGS

1. Alabama: Finished off another great season with an emphatic beating of a good Mizzou team. To my mind, the clear No. 1.

2. Oregon: I still have my doubts about this program’s ability to compete with the Alabamas of the world on a regular basis, but the Ducks are playing great football right now. I expect them to blow the doors off Florida State.

3. Florida State: The simple reality is that they aren’t playing like one of the best four teams in the country. That being said, you have to respect going to undefeated. I think TCU and Baylor are better teams. But you just couldn’t leave the ‘Noles out.

4. Ohio State: They needed to make a statement and they did. Incredible performance.

5. Baylor: The Big 12 co-championship mess didn’t help matters. But in the end, Baylor was done in by its awful non-conference schedule.

6. TCU: And TCU was done in by the loss to Baylor, obviously.

7. Mississippi State: A great year. Simple as that.

8. Michigan State: What a test they’ll face against Baylor in the Cotton Bowl.

9. Ole Miss: What a test they’ll face against TCU in the Peach Bowl.

10. Arizona: Will be interesting to see how far RichRod can take this program.

11. Kansas State: Another solid season for the Wildcats under Bill Snyder.

12. Georgia Tech: Pushed Florida State to the limit. Defense let them down.

13. Georgia: Overrated.

14. UCLA: Underachieved.

15. Arizona State: Will take on Duke in the Sun Bowl. Could have done better.

16. Missouri: Moving to the SEC was clearly the best thing that ever happened to this program.

17. Clemson: The way the Sooners have given up, you have to like the Tigers’ chances in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

18. Wisconsin: Inexcusable performance against the Buckeyes. Never showed up.

19. Auburn: Will take on the Badgers in the Outback Bowl. Hint, Auburn: Wisky can’t throw the ball. At all.

20. Boise State: The Fiesta Bowl?

21. Louisville: They’ll beat Georgia in the Belk Bowl.

22. Utah: Tricky game on tap against Colorado State.

23. LSU: LSU vs. Notre Dame in a bowl game? I’ll take it. Even taking into account the fact that neither team is any good this year.

24. USC: Scored a nice matchup against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. Always an entertaining game.

25. Minnesota: Will have their hands full against Mizzou. But hey, if Indiana can do it …