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Committee picks ‘Bama, three others for playoff tournament

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Their job was to pick the four best teams in college football. That’s it.

Their job was not to decide conference championship games. It was not to draw up a new, expanded bracket. It was not to reward small schools with big seasons. It was not to decide the niftiest fight song.

Their job was to pick the best four teams in the nation based on their resumes. Just that.

It wasn’t to reward Penn State for winning the Big 10. It wasn’t to give credit to Western Michigan for an unbeaten season. It was to decide which four teams should be in the playoffs. Nothing else.

In the end, there were easy choices for the College Football Playoff Committee. Alabama, the only major unbeaten team was slam dunk. Clemson, too. Ohio State, with three wins over top 10 teams, was ranked No. 2 in most polls.

But there were also hard choices. Ohio State was ranked No. 2 in most polls, but they lost to Penn State, which won the Big 10 title. But Penn State had two losses, and Ohio State had but one. That didn’t seem like a great stretch, despite the protests of the Nittany Lion faithful. Committee chairman Kirby Hocutt has said the difference in the two was significant.

Regardless, Penn State is sure to feel as if they were robbed. Still, the committee has nothing to do with who wins a conference title. Their job is to pick the best team. (Who would they have picked if Florida had upset Alabama? Assuredly, they would have picked Alabama).

Then there was Washington, whose schedule has been considered weak. The Huskies addressed that concern Saturday with a lopsided win over top 10 opponent Colorado.

In the first round, Alabama is set to play Washington, while Clemson and Ohio State play each other. Alabama is considered a heavy favorite to win yet another national title.

The winners of the semifinal round play in Tampa.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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