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  • In this week's mailbag, Big 12 fans are dealing in wild hypotheticals after Oklahoma came in at No. 4 in the new playoff rankings. And speaking of wild hypotheticals, let's talk about Jon Gruden and Tennessee.
By Andy Staples
November 15, 2017

The College Football Playoff selection committee’s rankings always inspire angst, but that’s especially true after a big shakeup. This time, that angst seems to be emanating from Big 12 country…

From @P1Hood86: If OU wins out there will be hell to pay if they don’t make it. Best offense in the country along with a soon-to-be Heisman winner. This is coming from a Texas fan too.

I understand the dismay over Oklahoma being ranked No. 4 by the College Football Playoff selection committee. The Sooners have an excellent résumé, and logical arguments can be made as to why Oklahoma should be ranked ahead of Clemson. (Logical arguments also can be made in the other direction.) What I don’t understand is the concern that a 12–1 Oklahoma holding a Big 12 title trophy will get left out of the playoff. That simply isn’t happening. If Oklahoma wins the rest of its games, Oklahoma is in.

Heck, I can even envision a scenario in which Oklahoma loses to West Virginia on Nov. 25 and still makes the playoff. Let’s say Auburn beats Alabama and then goes on to win the SEC by beating Georgia. Then let’s say Clemson loses at South Carolina. (It’s unlikely, but stranger things have happened. See Clemson losing to Syracuse.) Clemson goes on to beat Miami for the ACC title. Then let’s say Ohio State beats Wisconsin for the Big Ten title. Ohio State can’t possibly rise above Oklahoma in that scenario because the Buckeyes and Sooners would have the same record and the Sooners thrashed Ohio State head-to-head in Columbus. There might be arguments for Alabama and Miami to make the playoff as one-loss, non-conference champs, but the committee could struggle putting in teams that lost to two-loss conference champs. Oklahoma would likely be in.

So quit worrying, Sooners. If Oklahoma wins out, nothing will keep it out of the playoff.

From David: Doesn't it seem to you that the CFP is laying the groundwork to keep a 12–1 Big 12 champ OU out of the playoff? [Answer linked here, and in the video atop this post.]

From @errxn: #DearAndy, is there ANYTHING on the planet that’s dumber than #Grumors right now? Please help before my eyes roll permanently into the back of my head!

In the video answer to the question below, I’m pretty sure I promise to eat a hat if Jon Gruden becomes Tennessee’s next coach. (I’m not entirely sure, because like Will Ferrell’s character in Old School, I tend to black out when I answer questions under pressure.) Nothing about the Grumors makes logical sense. Why would Gruden leave a very cushy, high paying job to take a demanding, high-pressure job that pays about the same?

If your answer to that is “the coaching bug is a powerful thing,” I understand the sentiment. But consider this: The life of an NFL coach and the life of a major college head coach are very different. An NFL coach worries about ball. A major college head coach—especially at an SEC school with title aspirations—must worry about recruiting more than he worries about ball. Gruden may want to coach again, but it’s difficult to imagine him wanting to talk to high schoolers for hours every day. (Though Gruden’s natural charisma does suggest he’d be an excellent recruiter.) Plus, after so many reports over the years of Gruden looking at houses in Knoxville and not buying, I’m not sure there is a Realtor in town who will work with him. I could be hilariously wrong here, but common sense would also be wrong if Gruden wound up coaching at Tennessee.

From @gmannvols: Gruden? [Answer linked here, and in the video below.]

From @VanGogh_0: Should the committee treat Kelly Bryant’s injury against Syracuse the same as Nick Bosa’s ejection against Iowa? Both are somewhat random. Both are somewhat the fault of Clemson/Ohio State. Clemson shouldn’t have exposed Bryant as much. Bosa should not have put anything in the ref’s hands.

I understand the logic here, but the situations are pretty different. Clemson lost 27–24 at Syracuse, and it’s not a logical stretch to believe that the Tigers would have won with a healthy Kelly Bryant. It’s difficult to make an argument that the ejection of a player from the Buckeyes’ deepest, most talented position group cost Ohio State a game that it lost 55–24. Bosa’s ejection did not make J.T. Barrett throw four interceptions. Perhaps Bosa’s presence in the second half might have kept Iowa from averaging 6.4 yards a carry, but Ohio State’s defense still would have been placed in some horrible field position situations. Plus, there is the not-insignificant matter of that second loss on the Buckeyes’ résumé. Unless Clemson loses again, there isn’t much reason to compare the two teams.

From @HistoryOfMatt: I know people are saying UGA getting spanked by Auburn is The Most Georgia Thing, but The Most Georgia Thing would be Richt winning a title this year, or any year before Kirby Smart. THAT is The Most Georgia Thing. [Answer linked here, and in the video below.]

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