There’s nothing like having a little brother.
They wear your clothes, cry when you take privilege over the remote, and succumb to an overall lack of respect as they run to tell on you to your parents. The same holds true in the college football world.
The little brothers of college football never seem to get the respect they actually deserve. Think of UCF in 2017, and Cincinnati and Coastal Carolina this year. No matter the accolades or overall record, these teams will always get the short end of the stick.
Not Strong Enough
Since the conception of the College Football Playoff format in 2014, no school from a non-Power Five conference has earned a seat at the table in the final four. In fact, despite undefeated records in all three cases, none of these little brother teams have even landed a spot in the top six in the CFP committee’s final rankings.
You would think a 13-0 season, a conference title, and wins over three ranked opponents to end the season for UCF in 2017 would have warranted a little more notice. Instead, the Knights were left running to their parents (social media) with tears rolling down their cheeks as they proclaimed the rankings to be totally unfair.
The UCF athletic director even went as far as naming the team National Champions himself. He even fit the entire roster and coaching staff for their very own rings.
The response from the CFP committee? Suck it up.
Just when we thought Coastal Carolina or Cincinnati would break the streak and make a Cinderella run into the Playoff after their undefeated seasons this year, it was much of the same. Have they really played anyone? Do they really have a shot at making it?
Can they really hang with the older brothers of the Power Five for 60 minutes?
With both Cincinnati and Coastal being undefeated and holding conference titles, you might actually think they could make the Playoff. For the sixth year in the row, you would be wrong.
The eighth ranked Bearcats earned the college football equivalent to a hand-me-down as they were placed in a New Year’s Six Bowl against Georgia. The twelfth ranked Chanticleers were left with the equivalent of thinking they’re really playing video games with their older sibling even though their controller is unplugged.
Sorry, I’m having a little bit of PTSD from my childhood. Either way, they’ll be featured in the infamous Cure Bowl on the day after Christmas. Have you ever heard someone say, “I really can’t wait to watch the Cure Bowl this year!”
Liberty will meet No. 12 Coastal Carolina in the Cure Bowl 🙌— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) December 20, 2020
The Chanticleers finished the regular season 11-0. pic.twitter.com/hAqmH15osO
I didn’t think so.
So, the ultimate question remains: What will it take for one of these non-Power Five teams to break into the Playoff? An undefeated season with wins against other ranked opponents won’t suffice. A conference title seems like it doesn’t hold much weight. The only viable option left is a cluster of a two or three loss teams across the country leaving the committee no choice but to look further on down the line.
Living in the Shadows
Even then, is it enough? Oklahoma and Florida have two and three losses respectively, but still sit a few spots ahead of Cincinnati in the latest rankings. Georgia has two losses and Iowa State has three, but they’re both ranked higher than Coastal Carolina.
With a sample like that, it’s near impossible to think of a scenario where the little brothers make their debut in the Playoff. For now, these teams can hold off on shopping for themselves and stick to the hand-me-downs. They may just have to hold off until the big brother moves out of the house to get their chance.
That is, until he comes back home for the holidays, taking the remote and unplugging the controller just like old times. After all, there really isn’t anything like being a little brother.