Tag: playoff

The college football team that could go undefeated and not play in the College Football Playoff

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The College Football Playoff is organized by CFP Administration, LLC. While College Football Playoff games are played under NCAA football rules, the College Football Playoff is not an officially an NCAA-sanctioned national championship.


Tonight, at 6 P.M. Central Time, Western Michigan University (WMU) will face Ohio University (Ohio U; not to be confused with The Ohio State University (Ohio State), which is in a different college athletic conference) for the Mid-American Conference (MAC) college football championship. The game will be played at a neutral site, Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, and television coverage of the game will be provided by ESPN2.

2016 is looking like it could be the first year that the College Football Playoff (CFP), a four-team postseason playoff incorporating two bowl games as semi-final games and a stand-alone championship game designed to determine an unofficial NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I FBS) national champion, could be very controversial. One of the reasons why the CFP could be controversial in its third playing is that WMU could go undefeated and not be selected for one of the four spots in the CFP, which go to the top four teams in the CFP rankings after conference championships are awarded.

WMU has played an incredible college football season this year. In non-conference play, they defeated two teams from the much more prominent Big Ten Conference (specifically, teams from Northwestern University and University of Illinois), and they’ve won every in-conference and non-conference game that they’ve played this season. However, since Western Michigan plays in the Mid-American Conference, which is not considered to be one of the so-called “Power 5” conferences (Southeastern Conference (SEC), Big Ten Conference (Big Ten), Big XII Conference (Big XII), Pac 12 Conference (Pac 12), and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)), they are ranked 17th in the CFP rankings after the 13th week of the college football season. By contrast, the only other undefeated team in Division I FBS football is the University of Alabama (Alabama) team, ranked at the very top of the CFP rankings. While there’s no disputing that Alabama has been the strongest team in top-level college football this year, there are a total of 15 teams with at least one loss ranked above WMU, including one team with four losses (Auburn University). WMU could defeat Ohio U by an obscenely large margin in the MAC title game and go into bowl season undefeated, yet not even come close to getting one of the four CFP spots, with at least three of the four, or, if Alabama loses the SEC title game, all four, teams being selected for the CFP getting playoff spots.

Additionally, it’s very likely that Ohio State, which isn’t playing for the Big Ten title, could get a CFP spot, while both of the teams playing for the Big Ten title on Saturday night (The Penn State University vs. University of Wisconsin; 6 P.M. Central Time on Fox), may not get a CFP spot despite the winner of the championship game between them being the Big Ten champion. Furthermore, if Alabama loses to University of Florida (Florida) in the SEC title game, Florida may not get a CFP spot despite being conference champion, potentially resulting in two or fewer of the CFP teams being conference champions.

If one were to regard the Electoral College as an unfair way to decide a president and a vice president, then the CFP is an even unfairer way to decide a college football national champion. However, it’s the system we have, not the system that I would like to see in place, that is official (in the case of the Electoral College) or generally recognized as determining the champion (in the case of the CFP).

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Did the USGA learn from its video review mistake from last month?

AUTHOR’S NOTE #1: Since the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship is one of many women’s golf tournaments used to determine qualification for the women’s golf tournament at the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, International Olympic Committee (IOC) country codes for players in the U.S. Women’s Open are noted in parenthesis following the first mention of their full names below the divider.

AUTHOR’S NOTE #2: Anna Nordqvist’s last name is pronounced nord-KWIST


On the second of three holes played in yesterday’s three-hole aggregate playoff for the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship at CordeValle golf course in California (the playoff used holes 16, 17, and 18, in that order), Anna Norqvist (SWE) touched sand while addressing her ball, which was at rest and located in a bunker. Normally, when a player illegally grounds his/her club in a bunker or water hazard in a golf event, he/she will call a penalty on himself/herself. However, in Nordqvist’s case, it was not visibly obvious to her that she had illegally grounded her club in the bunker, and, in fact, only a FOX camera showing a close-up of Nordqvist’s address of the ball showed that Nordqvist had, in fact, touched sand while addressing her ball in a bunker. The USGA conducted a video review, and, after both players in the playoff had started playing the final hole of the playoff, they were both notified of the penalty assessed to Nordqvist for breach of Rule 13-4, which prohibits a player from, when his/her ball is at rest in a bunker or water hazard, touching water, sand, the ground, or loose impediments with the club, except when striking the ball itself. The penalty for breach of Rule 13-4 during stroke play, which was used for all four rounds of regulation and the three-hole aggregate playoff, is two strokes on the hole which the breach of the rule occurred. Brittany Lang (USA) went on to win the U.S. Women’s Open by three playoff strokes; had Nordqvist not been assessed a penalty, Lang would have still won, but only by one playoff stroke.

Here’s the video of Nordqvist grounding her club in the bunker:

I believe that the U.S. Golf Association (USGA), which sanctions the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship and some other golf tournaments, including the U.S. Open golf championship, did a far better job of handling the video review in regards to the Nordqvist grounded club situation in the U.S. Women’s Open than the Dustin Johnson moved ball situation that occurred during the final round of regulation in the U.S. Open, which is also sanctioned by the USGA. In that scenario, Johnson’s ball moved on the 5th green at Oakmont County Club in Pennsylvania, and he was initially given no penalty, since a rules official on-course ruled that he had not caused his ball to move. However, Johnson was notified several holes later that his score on the 5th hole was under video review, and it was after his round that he was notified that he had incurred a one-stroke penalty for causing his ball to move on the green without actually taking a stroke. This caused nearly everybody with an interest in golf to criticize the USGA for their handling of the Dustin Johnson moved ball scenario, and rightfully so, since Johnson was not notified of the penalty until after he had completed his round, even though the moved ball situation occurred less than halfway through his round.

If you were to ask me whether or not the USGA has learned from its video review mistake, the short answer would be yes.

U.S. Open golf championship shaping up to be one of the most memorable in decades

Normally, I don’t watch golf tournaments, but I made an exception for this year’s U.S. Open championship, largely due to FOX heavily promoting their coverage of the tournament during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series automobile races that I watch on most weekends (NASCAR’s top series has an off week this week).

What those watching the U.S. Open have seen over the last three days has been one of the greatest first 54 holes of a major golf championship in history.

The biggest story of the tournament hasn’t been Tiger Woods missing the cut. The biggest story isn’t the difficulty and physical demands of the Chambers Bay golf course, where the tournament is being held this year. The biggest story isn’t Jordan Spieth trying to win the second leg of golf’s grand slam (winning The Masters, the U.S. Open, the (British) Open Championship, and the PGA Championship, the four major men’s golf tournaments, in the same year). The biggest story isn’t FOX covering a major golf tournament for the first time.

All of those stories I listed in the above paragraph are big stories of this tournament, but the biggest story of the tournament has been Jason Day, an Australian who is 10th-ranked professional golfer in the world, collapsing from benign positional vertigo on his final hole of the second round of the tournament, then coming back in the third round and shooting a round of 68 (2 under par) to tie Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and Brendan Grace for the championship lead at 4 under par after 54 holes. Day’s third round performance was absolutely phenomenal, especially when one considers that Day was not physically well throughout his third round.

Tomorrow’s final round of the U.S. Open golf championship is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing final rounds of a major golf championship in a very long time. Should two or more players tie for the lead after all players are finished with their final round, an 18-hole playoff would be played by those tied for the lead on Monday.