Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
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The 2014 College Football Playoff has already left a bad taste in the mouths of a few groups in the college football world. Namely, Baylor fans, TCU fans, the Big 12 as a whole, and lastly, the Marshall Thundering Herd.
The Baylor Bears were spurned by the College Football Playoff Committee, despite going 11-1 with notable wins over TCU and Oklahoma. Likewise, the TCU Horned Frogs, who at one time climbed as high as third in the playoff rankings, also went 11-1 with notable wins over Texas and Kansas State and they found themselves on the outside looking in at the end of the season as well. Strong cases could be made for both of these teams to get in over Ohio State, but something about their resumes seemed to lack the firepower that the Buckeye resume had.
What was so lacking from these teams? One thing: A marquis win in their conference championship game…because the Big 12 doesn’t have a conference championship game. Both of these teams got to watch their playoff chances go away because their conference chairman thought that a round robin format was better than playing a conference championship game. (Even though the playoff committee plainly said, “conference championships will be given very serious consideration”. I’m paraphrasing of course, but you get my point. When the committee basically gives you instructions on how to get in, it behooves you to follow them. Essentially, Baylor and TCU forgot to put their names on their papers before turning them in.)
Supposedly, numbers were the reason for going with the round robin format, because apparently you can’t have the two divisions meet in the conference championship when you’ve only got ten teams. Man, getting screwed by your own commissioner’s ineptitude must really suck. At any rate, the Big 12 commissioner is now interested in adding teams in order to make the conference championship format a workable plan for his conference.
Meanwhile, the Marshall Thundering Herd just completed one of the greatest seasons they’ve had in quite some time. They went 11-1, blowing out a majority of their opponents, and finally claiming a conference championship victory over Louisiana Tech. They are even slated to take on the Northern Illinois Huskies in the Boca Raton Bowl (yeah, apparently that’s a thing). Marshall’s record was perfect until the last game of the regular season when they choked against Western Kentucky University, dropping a heart breaker to the Hilltoppers by a score of 67-66.
All season long, especially in the later parts of the season, many people (besides Curt Ashcraft and Matthew Ruskan) were arguing that Marshall should be getting a serious look from the playoff committee. The Thundering Herd was never really taken seriously by the committee, as they only broke into the Top 25 playoff rankings in week 14, despite being undefeated at the time. Marshall lacked strength of schedule this year, and ultimately, I believe that is why they didn’t get the respect they maybe deserved.
Marshall has two choices: They can either sit there and whine about their situation, or they can sack up and do something to change it (this is America by God, and nobody is stuck…but I digress). I vote that they take the latter option. Read on.
To me, their situation looks similar to that of Boise State and TCU a few years back. Both of those teams were openly complaining about how they weren’t getting a shot at the national title despite being undefeated, all the while playing in the dreadful Mountain West Conference. TCU got fed up, made a brief stop in the Big East, and then finally settled in the Big 12, where they have been playing big boy football and have remained in the national conversation. Boise State has remained in the Mountain West and has largely been forgotten as their program has regressed a little bit recently.
Hmmm…I see a pattern here. If you want your school to gain national recognition, then work your way into one of the power five conferences, keep winning, and things will work out (TCU’s story isn’t over yet, they’ll be in the conversation for a while).
I say all that to say this: Marshall needs to seriously think about leaving the good old Conference USA home they currently live in and consider relocating to the Big 12. The Big 12 needs to increase their numbers and Marshall needs to increase their recognition, so both parties would benefit. (Louisiana Tech should consider this as well, but that’s a conversation for another time.) Geographically, Marshall’s situation is pretty much identical to West Virginia, who managed to ruin Baylor’s season this year, and I think Marshall has the firepower to hang in that conference. It may be ugly at first (they’ll still be better than Iowa State), but after a couple of years things will even out and they could find themselves in the national conversation again. Only this time, they’d have a much better resume to present to the playoff committee.
So there you have it Marshall, if you want respect from the College Football Playoff Committee, then go out there and earn it. Nobody is stopping you, and the door seems to be wide open.