NOTES: I am so pleasantly surprised that Utah ended up No. 2 in the AP's final poll, mirroring my own ballot. I hope voters didn't put the Utes there for the symbolism, but for the earnest belief -- like mine -- that they are indeed the 2nd-best team in the country.
I said this yesterday: Utah would give Florida a tougher game than any other team in the country -- including USC -- specifically because Kyle Whittingham is an Urban Meyer protege. (That's also the reason that Meyer would ultimately prevail -- he knows Whittingham's tendencies better than anyone.)
NOW: Playoff proponents, please note that based on the penultimate AP or Coaches polls:
*In a 4-team model, Utah would have been left out (including a model based on AP votes).
*In an 8-team model, TCU would have been left out (perhaps even for Boise State, a team they ultimately beat head-to-head).
*In a 16-team model, Ole Miss would have been left out (and Texas Tech been included), despite the Rebels obviously being one of the Top 16 teams in the country -- if they could beat Florida at the Swamp, they could have presumably won it all in a playoff format.
Obviously, that is with the benefit of hindsight, but it shows you just how sticky the issue is in trying to pick a playoff field. This isn't like the NCAA basketball tournament, where there are 31 at-large bids that cover 98 percent of all reasonably worthy teams -- very very competitive teams would be left out of a football playoff.
UPDATE: As for 2009? If Tebow returns, Florida is a lock for No. 1. If not, it's probably Texas. Although check out Schlabach's list -- everyone has massive holes...except Florida. (People will think I'm insane, but Tebow backup John Brantley -- while not the runner Tebow is -- is a substantially bettery passer; if the D keeps the team in every game and the home-run hitters like Demps do what they do best, Brantley will be good enough -- if not spectacular.)
Here is my final ballot. Let me know what you think:
Dropped Out: Brigham Young (#19), Ball State (#21), Michigan State (#22), Northwestern (#23), Pittsburgh (#24), Boston College (#25).