LAS VEGAS — What if the people who make their living rating teams every day were in charge of seeding the college football playoffs? What if the inaugural playoff season wasn’t decided by a group of people with different agendas that might factor into their judgment?
There would be a lot more happy people in Texas, that’s for sure.
“My personal opinion is I thought it would be Alabama, Oregon, TCU and Florida State,” said Jay Kornegay, who runs the sports book at the Westgate Las Vegas. “I’m very disappointed they let Ohio State in there over TCU and Baylor.”
Yes, TCU and Baylor. In his book’s power ratings, Kornegay has them both listed as better teams than Ohio State.
And it’s not even close. Put them on a neutral field and Kornegay says TCU would be favored by a touchdown against the Buckeyes. Baylor would be about a 6-point pick if the Bears were playing Ohio State.
But that’s not all. Kornegay says there are more teams that would be favored against the Buckeyes should they have met in a bowl game.
Mississippi State, Mississippi and Auburn. If the sole criteria for selection were picking the best team at the moment, they would all be in before the Buckeyes were given a shot.
“What this is saying, I don’t know,” Kornegay said. “Is it back to a popularity and money issue? I certainly hope not, but I think they set a very poor precedent with their selection.”
Oddsmakers aren’t always right, of course, or no one would make money betting sports. One they got wrong was Ohio State’s wipeout of Wisconsin, where the Buckeyes went from 4-point favorites to 4-point underdogs when J.T. Barrett got hurt and there wasn’t a lot of confidence in replacement Cardale Jones.
But they post their lines every day, inviting the sharpest and biggest gamblers to try and beat them. So when they say that there are other teams better than Ohio State that didn’t get in, they do it after putting lines up on all the top teams throughout the college season.
Beating a Wisconsin team that seemed to give up by halftime simply wasn’t enough to change a lot of minds in this gambling town. Not even with a 59-0 final in the Big Ten title game.
“They had one good game is all and they ran the score up on Wisconsin to get style points,” said Johnny Avello, who runs the sports book at the Wynn resort. “The whole system is just flawed.”
Avello in particular didn’t like that the selection committee released six weekly rankings, with the final one dropping TCU from the No. 3 spot to sixth, despite a 55-3 thrashing of Iowa State.
“Don’t even put up the top 25 at all, just put them up when you’ve made your final decision,” Avello said. “We don’t need to see your opinions. We’re bookmakers, we know what the right teams are so there’s no need for you to tell us who they are.”
The irony of moving to a four-team playoff from the BCS system where just two teams were picked wasn’t lost on the bookies. With Alabama (a 9.5 point favorite over Ohio State) and Oregon (minus 9 against Florida State) having separated themselves there would have been little outcry among the Vegas experts — although Florida State fans would have complained loudly — had they been picked to play for the national title.
They would like to see playoffs expanded to eight teams, and not just because it would give more teams a chance to prove themselves on the field.
There would be money to be made in an event that could rival the Super Bowl for betting.
“The interest in this with four teams is going to be through the roof. It’s going to be huge,” Kornegay said. “But we always said that if the playoff is expanded to eight teams it could be the most popular event we post on our board.”