'The past system was flawed in my mind because you got points based on how many weeks you were in the rankings,' MSU coach Mark Dantonio says of the BCS. (Dale G. Young / Detroit News)
East Lansing — The first coaches’ poll was released on Thursday and Michigan State finds itself in a far different position than it was a season ago.
Heading into 2013, the Spartans were unranked before winning 13 games and finishing No. 3 in both the coaches poll and the Associated Press poll. It was the highest the Spartans were ranked at the end of season since 1966.
Now, heading into 2014, the defending Big Ten champions are No. 8 in the preseason rankings. What does that guarantee for Michigan State? Nothing, but coach Mark Dantonio is glad none of those rankings will be used in a formula to determine the national title game, as it was in the Bowl Championship Series era.
This season, a selection committee will determine the four teams in the inaugural College Football Playoff by ranking them from 1-25. The key with the committee’s rankings is they won’t come out until the ninth week of the season, unlike the coaches’ poll that was part of the BCS formula.
“The past system was flawed in my mind because you got points based on how many weeks you were in the rankings,” Dantonio said. “So you could start the season right now and we would be getting points whereas last year we got no points. We didn’t enter the top 25 (last year) until week No. 10. And so all of a sudden we end up No. 3. So just imagine if we entered the season No. 25 and climbed to No. 15 or something.”
Dantonio believes the new playoff setup will be good for college football, even if he wishes it was in place last season when he said his team was playing so well it would have had a shot to win the national title. He also understands there will always be criticisms.
“I like the playoff system,” he said. “I think it enhances the game. I think it’s gonna be exciting, the final four situation. Somebody is always gonna feel left out I think, the No. 5 team will feel left out. But I think the margin between No. 1 and 10 is very, very slim.
“The fact they are starting Week (9), developing their own poll is a positive as well. … Somebody is gonna have some negative feelings about things, but I think it’s a step in the right direction. My belief is they are trying to do the best they can to formulate a great plan to crown a champion and enhance the experience.”
Until the committee’s rankings come out, however, the traditional rankings will still be around, even if they simply provide content for debate. The preseason Associated Press poll will be released Aug. 17. It, too, has no bearing on the teams selected for the playoff.