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Stat’s Corner: Bias? Is there Bias in the CFP Polls?

Looking at team ranker higher and lower by the CFP committee

NCAA FOOTBALL: JAN 09 CFP National Championship - Clemson v Alabama Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bias could be defined as a showing favor for or against something. In the science fields, bias is known has a systematic error. When it comes to college football there are several polls, but only one that really matters is the College Football Playoff Selection Committee (CFP). The CFB has the job of selecting the match-ups that bring in the most revenue, I mean selecting the four best teams in the nation. Some people have argued there is a bias against non-Power 5 conference, for example the 2008 Utah Utes that was undefeated winning at Michigan, against Oregon State, and a bowl victory over Alabama. They were ranked 2nd in the final poll behind 13-1 Florida, who had lost at home to Ole Miss. This week on Stat’s Corner we are going to compare the CFB, AP, and Coaches poll for week 10 and week 15. There are other polls, but for sake of space we are just looking at first CFP and last CFP.

Week 10

Teams ranked lower by Selection Committee

Navy AP 25th, Coaches 25th, CFB not ranked. Despite being ranked in both the AP and Coaches polls, the Midshipman were left out.

San Diego State AP 24th, Coaches 24th, not ranked. Even worse than Navy, the Aztecs were ranked higher in both polls, but were also left off the list.

SMU AP 23rd, Coaches 23rd, CFB 25th. While the Mustangs did squeeze into CFP, it was lower than both their rankings in the AP and Coaches polls.

Memphis AP 19th, Coaches 19th, CFP 21st. The committee ranked the Tigers two places lower than either AP or the CFP.

Boise State AP 21st, Coaches 21st, CFP 22nd. You would think that after Boise’s success the committee would at least keep them consistent, but nope, down they go.

Cincinnati AP 17th, Coaches 17th, CFP 20th. Cincinnati had some close loses, but 3 spots lower by the committee seems a little harsh for a team that was undefeated at the time.

Minnesota AP 13th, Coaches 13th, CFP 17th. The biggest drop belongs to Minnesota. The Golden Gophers were just not respected by the committee.

Teams ranked higher by Selection Committee

Oklahoma State CFP 23rd other unranked. The surprise of the first CFP poll was Oklahoma State making the list ahead of Navy, San Diego State, and SMU despite not being ranked in either the AP or Coaches Poll.

Wake Forest 22nd AP, 20th Coaches, CFP 19th. Maybe the committee took the win over Utah State as a high quality win, or maybe they were trying to prop up the ACC.

Wisconsin AP 16th, Coaches 16th, CFP 13th. The badgers get a nice 3 spot bump because…. Why not?

Kansas State AP 20th, Coaches 22nd, CFP 16th. The biggest bump goes to Kansas State, a 4 and 6 place bump to get over-ranked in the CFP.

There were 7 schools who were ranked lower by the Selection Committee, 6 of them were from the Mountain West Conference or American Athletic Conference. On the flip side, all of the 4 teams which were ranked higher by the committee came from Power conference: ACC, Big 12, and Big 10. Some people will argue that it is just random some schools will be ranked higher and other lower, and that is true. However, if it was random then you would see AAC and MWC schools being ranked lower and higher, the fact that it is only going one way indicates there is a Selection Committee bias against now-Power schools.

Week 15

Teams ranked lower by Selection Committee

Memphis 15th AP, 15th Coaches, 17th CFP. Two different weeks, and the Tigers are still being ranked 2 spots lower by the CFP.

Boise State 18th AP, 18th Coaches, 19th CFP. First week one spot lower, last week one spot lower. That seems weird.

Navy 21st AP, 21st Coaches, 23rd CFP. At least they were ranked this week, but by the mandatory AAC 2 less ranking.

Minnesota 16th AP, 16th Coaches, 18th CFP. The token Power school that is ranked lower, the Golden Gophers have decreased their loss, instead of losing 4 spots they only lost 2.

Florida AP 6th, Coaches 7th, CFP 9th. The CFP didn’t believe in the Gators this week.

Teams ranked higher by Selection Committee

Wisconsin AP 11th, Coaches 11th, CFP 8th. Still ranked higher by 3 spots, nothing to see here, move along.

Penn State AP 13th, Coaches 12th, CFP 10th. “It’s Penn State, must be a top 10 team” said the CFP and no one else.

Michigan 17th AP, Coaches 17th, 14th CFP. It’s almost like the committee is trying to boost the Big Ten East Division to justify Ohio State.

Iowa 19th AP, 19th Coaches, 16th CFP. Another Big Ten team getting a 3 place bump, maybe the committee is trying to prop up the entire Big 10 conference.

Virginia AP unranked, 25th coaches, 24th CFP. Can’t have just one school from the AAC in the ranking.

Oklahoma State 25th AP, unranked coaches, 25th CFP. A one loss school from a conference with only 2 ranked teams gets in, can’t have that need another Big 12 school in the ranking.

Another ranking, another case of not a single AAC or MWC school getting ranked higher by the committee. Just once would show that it can happen and would at least give some evidence to non-bias. Four schools from the Big Ten were bumped up, along with the conferences with teams in the playoffs. Coincidence? I think not.

The strange thing is the lack of SEC teams on the list. Just one, Florida, being ranked lower. It’s almost like the committee was trying to prevent 2 SEC teams from getting into the playoff.