By RALPH D. RUSSO
Who is No. 1? There could be a lot of discussion about that Saturday night in that resort hotel in Grapevine, Texas, where the 13-member committee meets.
Picking the four teams to play in the College Football Playoff should be pretty easy for the selection committee.
Two pieces of the playoff, the two that seemed most likely to cause problems, fell nicely into place on championship weekend, starting with an upset in the Pac-12 on Friday and the favorites winning in the Big 12 and Southeastern Conference on Saturday.
After Oregon won the Pac-12 title and eliminated Utah the only question was: Could Georgia beat LSU and force the selection committee into putting two teams from the SEC in the semifinals or would the Big 12 champion take the last spot?
Oklahoma beat Baylor in an overtime thriller to start championship Saturday and LSU was too much for Georgia. We will never get back that week spent debating whether Utah or Oklahoma (or Baylor) should make the playoff.
Things could get weird if either Ohio State (No. 1 CFP) or Clemson (No. 3 CFP) lost their conference championship games Saturday night, but the Buckeyes and Tigers are unbeaten and there are no one-loss teams left in the Power Five conferences. Even if they were to stumble, that would fall into the semifinals.
The Buckeyes were No. 1 in the committee’s last rankings, ahead of LSU and Clemson. Georgia was fourth, but Oklahoma will take that slot.
To stay No. 1, Ohio State was going to need to make another statement against Wisconsin in Indianapolis on Saturday night — because LSU finished with a flourish.
The Tigers pounded Texas A&M and Georgia by a combined 87-17 in their final two games . The iffy defense that was supposedly holding the Tigers back, looked much tighter down the stretch. And Joe Burrow, well, let’s just say there will be even less drama at the Heisman Trophy ceremony next weeks as there was championship weekend.
The victory against Georgia gives LSU four victories against teams that will assuredly finish in the committee’s top 25. All of which will likely be in the top 15 (Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Georgia).
Ohio State came into the Big Ten championship with four victories against committee ranked teams (Cincinnati, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin).
Ohio State has for most of the season, been more dominant and more balanced than the Tigers. A more complete team to use the selection committee’s lingo.
LSU is looking pretty complete these days.
Dabo Swinney will no doubt continue to complain, but even a another blowout victory in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game is unlikely to push the Tigers past LSU or Ohio State.
While the coaches and players will say they are just happy to be in, and Oklahoma will certainly be no walkover, being No. 1 is a big deal because it means avoiding the defending national champions in the first round.
The tweets came about 20 minutes apart.
First FAU proclaimed itself champion of Conference USA, having blasted UAB at home in Boca Raton, Florida. Then FAU announced a national search had begun for a new head football coach.
Lane Kiffin is headed to back to the Southeastern Conference as head coach of Mississippi. The former USC coach (and Tennessee coach. And Raiders coach. And Alabama offensive coordinator) spent three seasons at FAU and guided the Owls to two C-USA titles. None of this was surprising. News broke about Kiffin and Ole Miss Friday night.
Memphis was in the third quarter of its American Athletic Conference championship game against Cincinnati when the announcement was made by Florida State of a news conference at noon Sunday to formally introduce its next head coach. Reportedly, that’s Memphis’ Mike Norvell. Those reports also started Friday night.
Florida State refrained for making it official while Norvell was still celebrating.
This is becoming a thing now.
Two seasons ago, news broke (though, again, it was not particularly surprising news) at the very end of UCF’s AAC title game victory that then-coach Scott Frost was leafing the Knights and headed to Nebraska, which shortly after made the announcement official.
With the signing period for high school prospects just a few weeks after conference championship weekend, schools making coaching changes can waste little time getting their new guy in place.
The result is coaches barely have a chance to take a picture with their championship trophies before being whisked away to their new lives.
This does not seem ideal for anyone involved, but unless the NCAA wants to ditch the early signing period — something many coaches wanted (though maybe not in late December) there is really nothing that can be done to fix it.
AROUND THE COUNTRY: Expect the coaching searches elsewhere to accelerate. Arkansas and Missouri are still open in the SEC and there has been speculation that a few more coaches whose teams played Saturday could get involved with those jobs, specifically Boise State’s Bryan Harsin and Appalachian State’s Eliah Drinkwitz. Maybe even Jim McElwain, the former Florida coach who led a huge turnaround in his first season at Central Michigan, though came up short in MAC title game. … Boston College could also fill up quickly after Ohio State gets past the Big Ten championship. BC athletic director Martin Jarmond came from Ohio State and could look to coach Ryan Day’s staff to fill the Eagles’ vacancy. … Jalen Hurts did not exactly make a Heisman statement in the Big 12 championship game, though his numbers for the season terrific. Receiver CeeDee Lamb is OU’s best Heisman contender.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen http://www.westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/APTop25CollegeFootballPoll and https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25