About Travis Normand

Attorney, Husband, and Father. - Interests: College Football, Cigars, Freemasonry, History, Research, Writing, LOAC / IHL, Law, and much more.

College Football Playoff History (and Precedent)

Travis Normand
Originally Posted on November 7, 2017
Updated on November 13, 2017
Updated on November 14, 2017 (Post rankings)

This post has not yet been edited, however due to the information it contains, I have to post it now in order to make sure it is relevant and timely. I will update as necessary.

This post reviews what has happened in prior CFP decisions, tries to digest those decisions into some kind of logical explanation, and then considers possible scenarios for the upcoming CFP. While I don’t believe the CFP committee wants there to be a “precedent” which would dictate how a particular CFP decision should go, it is fascinating to watch the decision making process as it plays out. Also, whether they like it or not, if the committee takes a particular course of action over and over, or makes the same type of decision based on the same criteria, they are effectively setting some kind of precedent. It may not be precedent that they are required to follow, but reversing course and making decisions that are completely contrary to their own prior decisions (with no logical explanation) will have potential negative effects on the CFP.



  1. Alabama (SEC Champion) (12-2 Overall, 7-1 Conference, 12-1 Pre-CFP)
  2. Oregon* (Pac 12 Champion) (13-2 Overall, 8-1 Conference, 12-1 Pre-CFP)
  3. Florida State (ACC Champion) (13-1 Overall, 8-0 Conference, 13-0 Pre-CFP)
  4. Ohio State (Big 10 Champion) (14-1 Overall, 8-0 Conference, 12-1 Pre-CFP)
  • 2014-2015 Notes:
  • Power Five Conference Champ Left Out: Baylor (11-1, 8-1) & TCU (11-1, 8-1) Big 12 Conference Co-Champions.
  • Controversy involving Baylor and TCU:  No. 9 TCU (12-1, 8-1, 11-1 Pre-Bowl) had lost at No. 5 Baylor (11-2, 8-1, 11-1 Pre-Cotton Bowl) during the regular season (by a score of 58-61). Further, the day before the final CFP rankings were released, No. 3 TCU defeated NR Iowa State by a score of 55-3 (expecting such a win to be good enough to maintain their spot in the top four). One week after Baylor defeated TCU, No. 4 Baylor lost at NR WVU by a score of 27-41 (a loss that presumably kept Baylor ranked behind TCU for almost the rest of the season). Then, the day before the final CFP rankings were released, No. 6 Baylor defeated No. 9 Kansas State (at home) by a score of 38-27 (a win that they were hoping would propel them into the top 4 and ahead of TCU, who they defeated earlier in the season). One would think that these final wins by Baylor and TCU would at least allow them hold their current positions ahead other teams, leaving only the issue of whether head-to-head would come into play as to whether TCU or Baylor should be among the top 4 teams and thus included in the CFP. Therefore, controversy that existed before the final rankings were released was that Baylor and TCU were both 11-1 overall and 8-1 in the Big 12, however, despite Baylor having defeated TCU in the regular season, TCU was still ranked in the Top 4 and Baylor was not. However, the controversy increased after the final rankings were released and TCU fell from No. 3 to No. 6 (and out of the Top 4), while Baylor moved from No. 6 to No. 5 (thus jumping TCU due to their head-to-head win), and yet both were left out of the CFP as Ohio State moved from No. 5 to No. 4 after defeating No. 13 Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship game.
  • The Vault: Ohio State moved from No. 5 to No. 4 in the final CFP rankings by defeating No. 13 Wisconsin (11-3, 7-1) 59-0 in the Big 10 Championship game. This solidified the idea that conference titles are extremely important when won in a conference championship game (and neither Baylor nor TCU had that luxury).
  • Questions we were left with were: (1) did the lack of a conference title game hurt TCU and/or Baylor, while it helped Ohio State?, and (2) why did the head-to-head between TCU and Baylor suddenly matter when it had not in all the previous CFP rankings?
  • Impressions: Conference championships (via a conference championship game) is considered more important than a regular conference title (i.e. Big 12, no title game). Also, head-to-head is not important to the committee until the final rankings are released, however, at that point in time, head-to-head will be trumped by a conference champion who won a conference championship game.
  • Strength of Schedule: While the conference championship was the focal point of the argument between Ohio State and TCU/Baylor; the underpinning of the argument was that Ohio State also had a harder/tougher strength of schedule.
  • FCS Teams: FSU played the Citadel, Oregon played South Dakota, Alabama played Western Carolina, Baylor played Northwestern State, and TCU played Samford. The only team that did not play an FCS school was Ohio State.
  • The Aftermath: No. 5 Baylor then lost the Cotton Bowl to No. 8 Michigan State (Big 10 East Division Champion) 42-41; while No. 6 TCU defeated No. 9 Ole Miss 42-3 in the Peach Bowl. Some pointed to these games as proof that Baylor should have been left out while maybe TCU should have gotten in. However, most of this discussion was dropped when Ohio State, who took the No. 4 spot, when on to win the fist CFP National Championship, and arguably proving that Ohio State was the proper choice for the fourth spot.
  • Who did they lose to?: Ohio State lost to Virginia Tech (7-6, 3-5), Oregon lost to Arizona (10-4, 7-2), and Alabama lost to Ole Miss (9-4, 5-3).


  1. Clemson* (ACC Champion) (14-1 Overall, 8-0 Conference, 13-0 Pre-CFP)
  2. Alabama (SEC Champion) (14-1 Overall, 7-1 Conference, 12-1 Pre-CFP)
  3. Michigan State (Big 10 Champion) (12-2 Overall, 7-1 Conference, 12-1 Pre-CFP)
  4. Oklahoma# (Big 12 Champion) (11-2 Overall, 8-1 Conference, 11-1 Pre-CFP)
  • 2015-2016 Notes:
  • Power Five Conference Champ Left Out: Stanford (12-2, 8-1, 11-2 Pre-Rose Bowl). Allegedly the loss to Northwestern in first game of season is what kept them out, as they loss to Oregon as well and had two regular season losses. To date, no team had made the CFP with more than one loss.
  • The Aftermath: No. 6 Stanford played No. 5 Iowa (Big 10 West Division Champion) in the Rose Bowl and won 45-16 (arguably confirming the idea that Stanford should have been allowed into the No. 4 spot instead of Oklahoma, as Oklahoma was crushed by Clemson 37-17). This Rose Bowl loss also confirmed that Iowa was rightfully removed from the No. 4 spot after their loss to Michigan State in the Big 10 Championship game, even though the loss to Michigan State was Iowa’s first loss of the season.
  • Conference Championship vs. More Losses: While Stanford was a Conference Champion, and won their title via a conference championship game, they were left out of the CFP in lieu of the Big 12 Champion (Oklahoma). The prior season told us that winning a conference championship via a championship game would be considered more valuable than a conference title won without a championship game, however, that “rule” would have applied (possibly) to Stanford/Oklahoma, however, Stanford had two-losses while Oklahoma had only one. However, one could argue (and Stanford proponents did) that Stanford had made up for this extra loss by playing one more game (a conference title game) than Oklahoma did (just like last season when Ohio State played one more game, in the conference championship, than TCU or Baylor did). This argument did not carry the day for Stanford and thus playing an extra game in the form of a conference championship did not help vault them into the CFP above Oklahoma due primarily to the fact that Stanford had two losses instead of one. Again, this is somewhat confusing as last season it was the extra conference championship game that allowed Ohio State to pass over both Baylor and TCU in order to land in the CFP at No. 4.  However, the impression we were left with was that while all three were conference champions, and all three had only one loss on the season, Ohio State pulled ahead due to picking up an extra win via its conference title game and moving to 12-1. In other words, all three had one loss, but Ohio State had 12 wins, while Baylor and TCU had only 11. (Further, Ohio State won its Big 10 championship game over a good Wisconsin team in very convincing fashion). The rule we thought that could be taken from this season was that if two teams had the same number of losses (one or less), but one team had an extra win via a conference title game, that extra win would be the deciding factor for who gets into the CFP. However, the extra win in a conference title game would not be enough if the other team had fewer losses.
  • The Vault: Michigan State moved from No. 5 to No. 3 in the final CFP rankings, jumping over Iowa (who fell from No. 4 to No. 5) and Oklahoma (who fell from No. 3 to No. 4). Michigan State was vaulted two spots partly due to their win over No. 4 Iowa (12-2, 8-0) in the Big 10 Championship game, by a score of 16-13. They presumably jumped over Oklahoma as well, due to the fact that Oklahoma didn’t play anyone on that same weekend due to the lack of Big 12 Championship game. This again solidified the idea that conference titles are extremely important when won in a conference championship game.
  • Strength of Schedule: Again, the underpinning of this argument of number of losses versus conference championship games is the idea that strength of schedule is fairly important.
  • FCS Teams: Clemson played Wofford (5-6, 3-4) and Alabama played Charleston Southern (10-3, 6-0). However, Michigan State, Oklahoma, and Stanford did not play any FCS teams.
  • Who did they lose to?: Alabama’s one loss was to Ole Miss (10-3, 6-2), Oklahoma’s one loss was to the University of Texas (5-7, 4-5), and Michigan State’s one loss was to Nebraska (6-7, 3-5).


  1. Alabama* (SEC Champion) (14-1 Overall, 8-0 Conference, 13-0 Pre-CFP)
  2. Clemson (ACC Champion) (14-1 Overall, 7-1 Conference, 12-1 Pre-CFP)
  3. Ohio State& (Big 10 East Division Co-Champion) (11-2 Overall, 8-1 Conference, 11-1 Pre-CFP)
  4. Washington (Pac 12 Champion) (12-2 Overall, 8-1 Conference, 12-1 Pre-CFP)
  • 2016-2017 Notes:
  • Non-Conference Champion: Ohio State is the first non-conference champion to make CFP. Penn State (11-3 Overall, 8-1 Conference, 11-2 Pre-Rose Bowl) was the Big 10 Champion (and Big 10 East Division Co-Champion, due to having defeated Ohio State during the regular season).
  • Power Five Conference Champ Left Out: Big 10 Champion Penn State (11-3, 8-1, 11-2) and Big 12 Champion Oklahoma (11-2, 9-0, 10-2). Oklahoma was No. 7 in the final CFP rankings, and defeated No. 14 Auburn in the Sugar Bowl.
  • The Vault: There was no vault this season, as No. 1 through No. 4 were the same four teams when the final CFP rankings were released. The only difference is that when the final rankings were released, the teams had been slightly reshuffled (as No. 2 Ohio State fell to No. 3, and No. 3 Clemson moved up to No. 2). Clemson’s move was arguably due to their 42-35 win over No. 23 Virginia Tech (10-4, 6-2) in the ACC Championship game, while Ohio State did not play that weekend (as they were not in the Big 10 Championship game). However, the move that everyone was curious about was whether No. 5 Michigan (10-3, 7-2, defeated Penn State in regular season, but lost to Ohio State), No. 6 Wisconsin (11-3, 7-2, Big 10 West Division Champion, lost to Penn State in Conference Championship game, and lost to both Michigan and Ohio State in regular season), or No. 7 Penn State (Big 10 Conference Champions, but lost to Michigan yet defeated Ohio State in regular season) would jump into the No. 4 spot (thus pushing Washington out of the top four). This potential vault, and the lack their of, caused the following analysis regarding SOS vs. Conference Championships, etc.
  • Strength of Schedule vs. Conference Championship: Up until this season, everyone was under the impression that (1) conference championships and (2) strength of schedule were extremely important considerations for which teams would be selected for the CFP. However, the decision to take Washington over Penn State called this method of thinking into question. While the first CFP told us that conference titles were more important than anything else, this season told us something different. Not only did Ohio State get into the CFP without winning a conference title of any kind, but Washington got into the CFP over Penn State. Penn State was a two-loss conference champion while Washington was a one-loss champion (both teams won their title via a championship game). However, Penn State’s two losses were against unranked Pitt (8-5, 5-3) and No. 6 Michigan (10-3, 7-2), and thus the thought was that the extra-loss kept Penn State out. However, Washington had played a weaker schedule than Penn State (which included a win over an FCS team), and thus the CFP committee effectively said that they would “punish” Penn State for playing a harder schedule and reward Washington for having played an FCS team.
  • Strength of Schedule: While the first two seasons told us that SOS was fairly important to the determination of who got into the CFP, this season almost completely removed that rule. Some have argued that the Washington vs. Penn State discussion is no different than the Stanford vs. Oklahoma debate from the previous year. However, there are major differences between the two in that Oklahoma did not have as many wins as Stanford due to the fact that Oklahoma did not play a conference title game (while both Washington and Penn State played in conference title games). Another difference is that the decision this season was not between Washington and Penn State, as much as it was Washington and Ohio State (a non-conference champion).  In other words, you had a non-conference champion (Ohio State) with one-loss getting into the CFP, as well as a 12-1 conference champion (Washington), both over a Conference Champion who had defeated the non-conference champion (Ohio State) and had a stronger SOS than Washington. However, what won the day was the second loss that Penn State had due to their more difficult SOS (compared to Washington). However, at this point, one thing is clear, two-losses will keep you out of the CFP regardless of SOS or Conference Championship.
  • Washington and Penn State’s shared loss: Washington’s regular season loss was to USC, who also defeated Penn State in the Rose Bowl.
  • The Aftermath: While Penn State did lose a close game to USC in the Rose Bowl, Washington was crushed by Alabama in its first CPF game, 24-7.
  • FCS Teams: Washington played Portland State (3-8, 2-6), Clemson played South Carolina State (5-6, 5-3), and Alabama played Chattanooga (9-4, 6-2). Ohio State, Penn State, and Oklahoma did not play an FCS team, and Ohio State defeated Oklahoma during the regular season (the win over Big 12 Champion Oklahoma was very helpful in getting Ohio State into the CFP; showing that it might be better to beat a conference champion than be one). However, at this point, it doesn’t appear to hurt anyone to play an FCS team.
  • Who did they lose to?: Washington lost to USC (10-3, 7-2), Ohio State lost to Penn State (11-3, 8-1), Clemson lost to Pitt (8-5, 5-3), and Penn State lost to Pitt (8-5, 5-3) and Michigan (10-3, 7-2).


(4) 2017-2018: 

  1. TBD
  2. TBD
  3. TBD
  4. TBD
  • 2017-2018 What to watch for: Points 4 & 5 are most interesting, while 7 & 8 are also going to be fun to watch.
  • (1) Will two teams from the same conference make the CFP this season (for the first time)? SEC: Alabama, Georgia, Auburn; ACC: Miami, Clemson
  • (2) Will Notre Dame make the CFP, thus potentially forcing two power five conferences to be left out of the CFP? Every season prior, four of the five power five conferences were represented in the CFP, but Notre Dame could make it so that only three of the five are represented. (After Notre Dame’s loss to Miami on November 11th, they are unlikely to make the CFP).
  • (3) If you are looking for real chaos and for the fastest way to an expanded eight-team playoff, start rooting for: (1) Alabama, Auburn, and Notre Dame to all make it in to the CFP, as that will leave room for only one representative from the remaining four power conferences – ACC, Big 10, Big 12, and Pac 12), or (2) two SEC teams and two ACC teams to make the CFP, leaving out three of the power five conferences (which is more likely than option number one now that Notre Dame has lost to Miami).
  • (4) On Wisconsin: Will Wisconsin finish the season undefeated as Big 10 Champions, and become the first undefeated power five conference champion to be left out of the CFP? It is looking less likely that they will be left out, but they are not guaranteed to make it yet. Remember, in 2014, Ohio State’s win over Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship game is what helped Ohio State vault into the number 4 spot. Then, in 2015, Michigan State also moved up in the CFP rankings by defeating Iowa in the Big 10 Championship game. However, in 2016, Penn State defeated Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship game but still did not make the CFP (partly due to PSU having two losses, while 2014 Ohio State and 2015 Michigan State both only had one loss during the season). However, if UNDEFEATED Wisconsin is able to turn the tables and defeat a one-loss Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship game; leaving them out of the CFP would be a totally unprecedented move by the CFP committee based on their previous decisions regarding the Big 10.
  • (4a) Note on Wisconsin: With the release of the third CFP rankings, it appears as if Wisconsin has positioned itself to vault into the top 4 with a win in the Big 10 Conference championship game (of course this also assumes that Wisconsin will win out and stay undefeated). As of today (Nov. 14) Wisconsin is No. 5, while Ohio State (there likely opponent in the Big 10 Championship game) is sitting at No. 9. Further, if Wisconsin wins out, they will have wins over currently-ranked No. 24 Michigan, No. 23 Northwestern, and No. 9 Ohio State. While their schedule is not “amazing” in terms of SOS, they will have played and defeated several ranked teams, while also having gone undefeated (something no other CFP Big 10 team has done), and that “0” in the loss column could make-up for what they lack in terms of SOS.
  • (5) 2016 All Over Again: If Auburn wins out and makes the CFP (with two losses) as the SEC Champion (over one-loss Alabama, who would be left out of the CFP), we would have a result that is exactly opposite of last season when Ohio State made the CFP and Penn State (two-loss Big 10 Champion) did not. ‬The only explanation for this would be 2017 Auburn’s SOS vs. 2016 Penn State’s SOS. Arguably, Auburn has a better SOS as their two losses were to Clemson and LSU, while Penn State lost to Pitt and Michigan in 2016 (however, Clemson also lost to Pitt in 2016).
  • (6) If Miami wins out (after defeating then No. 4 Notre Dame), but then losses to Clemson in the ACC Championship game (making both Miami and Clemson 11-1), could the CFP include two SEC schools (Alabama, Georgia, Auburn) and two ACC schools (Miami and Clemson)?
  • (7) Big 12 Trouble Brewing: Oklahoma could win out and potentially be 8-1 in the Big 12 Conference, however, they will then be forced to play a “conference championship game” against the runner-up in the Big 12 standings (I call them the runner-up because unlike a conference with divisions, Oklahoma will not be playing a division champion, but a runner-up, in order to officially claim the conference crown). As of right now, there appears to be two teams which could realistically qualify for runner-up to OU: TCU 5-2 and Oklahoma State 5-2 (however, TCU defeated Oklahoma State in the regular season, so I am assuming there is a tie-breaker that would allow TCU to play OU in the “championship game”). If this is how it plays out, 8-1 OU will be forced to play, and defeat, 7-2 TCU AGAIN in order to advance to the CFP. If TCU pulls the upset, OU and TCU will both be 8-2, and TCU will be the Conference Champion; however, TCU will most likely NOT make the CFP (despite the Big 12 having brought back their conference title game in direct response to what happened in 2014-2015; only now they are still left out of the CFP and probably would have gotten in if they had not held a “championship game”).
  • (8) Big 12 Trouble Brewing (Part 2): On the other hand, West Virginia is also currently 5-2 and has yet to play Oklahoma. If TCU, Oklahoma State, and WVU all win out, we will have a four-way-tie for first place in the Big 12 Conference as WVU, OU, TCU, and OSU would all be 7-2. In the regular season, OU defeated TCU, TCU defeated OSU, OSU defeated WVU, and WVU defeated OU.  However, OU also defeated OSU, and TCU defeated WVU. My guess is that the four-way-tie will be broken so that 7-2 OU will face 7-2 TCU in the “championship game.” Regardless of who wins this game, I would think it is not likely that they make the CFP. However, watching the Big 12 play out, and whether they manage to make the CFP, will be an interesting side-show.
  • (9) Shared Losses: At this point in time, it appears that Clemson may be the common denominator on a lot of teams’ schedules. As of right now, Clemson has defeated Auburn, and will play Miami in the ACC Championship game.
  • (10) Precedent: SOS vs. Conference Championship: As of the third CFP rankings, Clemson (9-1) is No. 2 (with their one loss coming against NR Syracuse (4-6)), while Miami (9-0) is undefeated and is No. 3. In other words, the loss has less to do with the rankings of the teams than their current SOS.  What will be interesting is to see what happens after the ACC Championship game and whether or not that causes the teams to trade places. It will tell us a lot in terms of what is more important; SOS or Conference Championship (via a conference championship game).
  • (10a) Precedent: SOS vs. Conference Championship: Oklahoma (9-1) is currently No. 4 in the third set of CFP rankings, and they are ahead of undefeated No. 5 Wisconsin (10-0). In other words, despite the one loss that Oklahoma has to NR Iowa State (6-4), Oklahoma still has a better SOS than Wisconsin in the eyes of the CFP committee. While the Clemson vs. Miami situation (referenced above) will be telling, what will be even more telling is whether Wisconsin is able to jump Oklahoma due to the fact that Wisconsin plays in a Conference Championship game that is composed of division champions (which the Big 12 does not have).
  • (10b) Precedent: SOS vs. Conference Championship: If Auburn wins out and is SEC Champion, will that Conference Championship (via a conference championship game) be enough to overcome two-losses, and jump over teams like Wisconsin and/or Oklahoma?
  • (10c) Precedent: SOS vs. Conference Championship: Some people have said that if Alabama losses to Auburn, and finishes the season 11-1 (and is not the SEC Champion or West Division Champion), that Alabama will not have the SOS to make the CFP. However, while that may be true, Alabama is currently No. 1, while one-loss teams are ranked No. 2 and No. 4, and other undefeated teams (like Alabama) are ranked No. 3 and No. 5. After the third week of CFP rankings there are no conference championships being considered, which tells me that at this point in the process one of the major ranking considerations MUST be SOS; and that therefore (according to the committee) Alabama must have a strong SOS. Otherwise, if they do not have a strong SOS, why are they No. 1?
  • (11) Precedent: SOS: With 9-1 Clemson ranked ahead of 9-1 Oklahoma, it is clear that the CFP committee’s formula for SOS is based more on a team’s wins than their losses. After all, right now Clemson’s loss to Syracuse doesn’t look as nice as Oklahoma’s loss to Iowa State. In other words, the committee must not be nearly as concerned with who a team loses to, but is more concerned with who a team defeats; and Clemson has a nice resume in that regard (several teams with above .500 records who were ranked when they played Clemson). The teams that Oklahoma has defeated are nice, but not quite as impressive as Clemson’s opponents, or at least, that is how the CFP committee is viewing it (if they are not viewing it this way, then I don’t understand how Clemson is so far ahead of OU). Click here to read Kirby Hocutt’s answers regarding Clemson and Oklahoma as this is great insight into the mind of the CFP committee (however, as we have seen before, just because they vote/think this way now, doesn’t mean they will vote this way in the final rankings).


  • CFP = College Football Playoff.
  • SOS = Strength of Schedule
  • Bold = CFP National Champion.
  • *  = Runner-up / Lost National Championship Game.
  • # = Conference Champion, but not via a Conference Championship Game.
  • & = Non-Conference Champion.

General Notes for all years:

  • There has never been two teams from the same conference to make the CFP in the same year.
  • Alabama is the only school to make all three of the CFP.
  • There has not been a team with more than one loss make the CFP (every team in the CFP has had one or zero losses).
  • Every season there has been at least one undefeated team in the CFP, but no undefeated team has won the CFP.
  • A No. 1 or No. 3 seeded team has never won the CFP.
  • The No. 2 seeded team has won the CFP two times.
  • The No. 4 seeded team has won the CFP one time (the first one).
  • A Non-Conference Champion has never won the CFP (all winners of the CFP have been Conference Champions via a Conference Championship game).
  • There has not yet been a school from the “Group of Five” in the CFP (all CFP teams have been Power Five conference schools).
  • There has never been an undefeated Power Five conference champion left out of the CFP (all undefeated Power Five champions have made the CFP). 2017’s Wisconsin Badgers may be the first to break this trend.

Lombardi Award Canceled

Logo courtesy of the Rotary Club of Houston

Travis Normand
October 31, 2017

I have been a college football award voter since at least 2009 (and possibly as far back as 2006 from what I can remember, although at this time, I can’t find proof that I voted in anything earlier than 2009). I love the individual college football awards; I have always taken pride in my status as a voter and always give my votes serious consideration.

In 2011, I was honored to be selected as a voter in the Lombardi Award which was given out by the Rotary Club of Houston. As you probably already know, the Lombardi Award was historically given to the best college football lineman or linebacker, however, before the 2016 season, the award was changed and any college football player was eligible for consideration.

However, a couple of weeks ago I was notified that the Rotary Lombardi Award will not be given out this 2017 season for reasons that are not entirely clear. The purpose of this post is not to speculate as to the reasons, but to simply inform readers of this decision. As far as I know, in July of 2017 the award was still scheduled to be awarded after the 2017 season, as a pre-season watch list was announced on July 31, 2017.

The following is the press release from the Houston Rotary Club that was released in late September 2017, explaining the current situation:

Media Contact:
Laura M. Pennino, Senior PR Consultant for the Rotary Club of Houston
281 286 9398 office
713 419 1776 mobile

The Rotary Club of Houston Will Not Present the 48th Annual Rotary Lombardi Award in 2018 as Previously Announced

HOUSTON, Texas (Sept. 29, 2017) – Representatives of the Lombardi family have elected to end the historic and long-standing relationship with the Rotary Club of Houston. Consequently, the Rotary Club of Houston will not present the 48th Annual Rotary Lombardi Award for the 2017-2018 College Football Season as previously announced. The Club is very proud of its history in promoting, managing and presenting the Rotary Lombardi Award for 47 years.

The Rotary Club of Houston is a non-profit volunteer organization that established the Rotary Lombardi Award to honor legendary coach Vince Lombardi and to raise funds to fight the deadly disease that claimed his life—Cancer. Since 1970, the Rotary Club of Houston has presented this prestigious award to a talented college football player who not only demonstrates outstanding athletic performance and skill, but exemplifies the type of discipline, courage and wisdom that define Coach Lombardi’s exceptional brand of leadership. Proceeds from the Rotary Lombardi Award have benefitted three designated charities—the American Cancer Society, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and Texas Children’s Hospital Cancer Center.

“The Rotary Club of Houston applauds the numerous volunteers who have provided countless hours of service to support the mission of the Rotary Lombardi Award. Our members remain committed to the Rotary motto of ‘Service Above Self’ and will continue to raise funds and awareness to battle Cancer,” commented Rick Olsen, President of the Rotary Club of Houston for the 2017-2018 calendar year.

In the immediate aftermath of “Hurricane Harvey” thousands of people remain displaced and face a challenging recovery. The Rotary Club of Houston will continue to provide assistance to those in need during this crisis. Rotarians, like the city they serve, are “Houston Strong!”

About The Rotary Club of Houston

The Rotary Club of Houston, founded in 1912, is the oldest and largest Rotary club in the greater Houston area. As a charter representative of Rotary International, a worldwide service organization with over 1.2 million members in more than 200 countries, the Rotary Club of Houston continues to provide assistance to various local and global community service campaigns. Notwithstanding Rotary’s international pledge to eradicate Polio, the Rotary Club of Houston sponsors several programs that address literacy, child welfare, veteran assistance, and public health. The Rotary Club of Houston is also credited with helping to establish Goodwill Industries and Little League Baseball in Houston, and actively participated in scholarship programs sponsored by the Houston Endowment and Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

For more information, please visit www.rotaryhouston.org.

I am not sure if, or when, the Lombardi Award will ever be back. However, my hope is that it returns soon, as it is one of the great college football awards.


Travis Normand
October 4, 2017

I found this online the other day and contacted the author, Sue Owen, about reposting/sharing it here on OPS. If you haven’t seen this, you should check it out. She does a great job researching the origin of the phrase “Hullabaloo, caneck, caneck” (from Texas A&M’s fight song), and discovers where it might have come from.

Hullabaloo: Ancient Greek and a play by Aristophanes could help decode a famous Aggie phrase
by Sue Owen ’94
Found at: https://www.aggienetwork.com/traditionsthroughtime/hullabaloo.aspx


Greatest Comebacks in College Football History

Travis Normand
October 4, 2017

Some of the following information was originally incorporated within another post that I had made back in September of 2017. However, I have added to these lists and consider the information worthy of its own post. So, having said that, here are the greatest comebacks in college football history:

List 1: The winning team trailed by at least 30 points
before overcoming the deficit:

[1] 2006: Michigan State 41, Northwestern 38 – Deficit overcome: 35 points
[2] 2017: UCLA 45, Texas A&M 44 – Deficit overcome: 34 points
[3] 1984: Maryland 42, Miami 40 – Deficit overcome: 31 points
[3] 1989: Ohio State 41, Minnesota 37 – Deficit overcome: 31 points
[3] 2006 Insight Bowl: Texas Tech 44, Minnesota 41 – Deficit overcome: 31 points
[3] 2016: Tulsa 48, Fresno State 41 – Deficit overcome: 31 points
[3] 2015: TCU 47, Oregon 41 – Deficit overcome: 31 points
[8] 1993: California 42, Oregon 41 – Deficit overcome: 30 points
[8] 2001 GMAC Bowl: Marshall 64, East Carolina 61 – Deficit overcome: 30 points

(The above list of games is courtesy of Matt Brown at SportsOnEarth.com)

List 2: The winning team trailed by at least 20 points
before overcoming the deficit:

[1] 2010: Kansas 52, Colorado 45 – Deficit overcome: 28 points
[1] 1994: Florida 31, Florida State 31 – Deficit overcome: 28 points
[1] 1992: Clemson 29, Virginia 28 – Deficit overcome: 28 points
[2] 2000 Outback Bowl: Georgia 28, Purdue 25 – Deficit overcome: 25 points
[3] 1979 Cotton Bowl: Notre Dame 35, Houston 34 – Deficit overcome 22 points
[4] 2010: Auburn 28, Alabama 27 – Deficit overcome: 21 points
[5] 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl: Texas A&M 52, Duke 48 – Deficit overcome: 21 points
[6] 1980 Holiday Bowl: BYU 46, SMU 45 – Deficit overcome: 20 points

I am still adding to these lists. If you know of a game that should be included, please let me know by posting in the comments below. I am sure there are some games from the 1800’s that have been entirely overlooked, but as I find them, I will include them. Also, all of the above-listed games are Division 1/FBS games. I have not yet researched the other divisions, but I am willing to include them. Again, if you know of a game from another division that should be included, just post it below in the comments and I will add it.

Completing the journey

by Travis Normand
September 2, 2017
Updated: September 4, 2017

Today (September 2, 2017) I start the final leg of a journey I started almost 20 years ago. This grand slam, or superfecta, which can no longer be accomplished due to the loss of the Orange Bowl stadium and the non-use of the Cotton Bowl stadium, will be completed tomorrow when I attend the UCLA vs. Texas A&M football game in the original Rose Bowl stadium.

As many of you know, college football has four major bowl games which are traditionally the Sugar, Cotton, Orange, and Rose. Not only are these bowl games, but at one point in time they were all played in stadiums built for that purpose (or in stadiums that were named after the bowl game itself). In other words, the Cotton Bowl game was played in the Cotton Bowl stadium (as was the Orange and Rose Bowl).

The one exception to this rule is the Sugar Bowl game, as that was originally played in Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Sugar Bowl game has never had its own stadium (or otherwise stated, there has never been a stadium that was merely built for the purpose of hosting the Sugar Bowl game; and while Tulane Stadium was referred to as the Sugar Bowl, it was never officially named that).

However, when the sun rises over the San Gabriel Mountains on Monday morning, I will finally be able to say that I have seen A&M play in all three original historic bowl venues, as well as in the Sugar Bowl game.

Now, before you get too much further into what I have written, please take note (if you have not done so already), the distinction between the bowl game and the bowl stadium, as they are entirely two separate things. A perfect example is the Cotton Bowl. As you will read, I have seen the Aggies play in the Cotton Bowl game in the original Cotton Bowl stadium. However, for the purposes of this article, what is most important is having seen them play in the original historic stadium. I make this distinction because, for example, I may someday get a chance to see A&M play in an Orange Bowl game, however it will not be played in the original historic stadium as that is gone forever.

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1908 Missouri State Normal School

by Travis Normand
Originally Published: June 8, 2017
Updated: August 24, 2017

The original photo that I found and began researching.

A couple of years ago I found an old black and white photograph of what appeared to be a college, or maybe high school, football team. While finding an old football photo is nothing special, this photo had my maternal great-grandfather in it (James P. Fitch). I instantly recognized him but I had no idea what team or school the photo was of.

The only identifying information that was ascertainable from the photo itself was the word “Normals ’08,” that someone had written across the bottom of the photo. There was also the coach, who was standing behind his players, wearing a white sweater with a logo that I couldn’t quite make out. The logo appeared to include a “T”, a triangle, and an “S”, although I wasn’t entirely sure. It wasn’t a lot of information to go off of, but with that, I began my search for the source of this photo.

I knew a lot about my great-grandfather but for some reason I didn’t know where he had attended college. I started searching for Normal schools in states where he had lived as a young man. As you can imagine, this didn’t narrow my search very much as there were a lot of Normal schools in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

I also tried searching for the logo, but that didn’t yield any results either. This wasn’t too disappointing as I knew that even if I found the logo, it might not be for the same school that my great-grandfather had attended. After all, it is not like schools during this time period had Nike contracts for their athletic apparel, and the coach’s sweater could have been from another school (or anywhere else for that matter). In other words, there was a very real possibility that the logo had nothing to do with this particular school or team.

I continued searching and put in an inquiry with a college football historical research group that I am a member of, but that turned up very little information. Everywhere I looked, I found another dead-end, and I was having a difficult time figuring out what school this photo was of. After a lot of searching, the only information I had was that my great-grandfather was in the photo, it was a “Normal” school, and the year was 1908. I started to think that I would never figure out what school my great-grandfather had attended. My biggest fear was that the school was a small college, located in the middle of nowhere, that had long since demised without a trace, and thus there was little chance that I would ever learn of its existence.

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Need-to-Know Rule Changes for 2017 College Football Season

For Immediate Release: August 23, 2017

Need-to-Know Rule Changes for 2017 College Football Season
CFO and NFF team up to highlight the changes designed
to protect players and increase safety

The NFF has partnered with College Football Officiating national coordinator Rogers Redding to highlight the key rule changes that will take effect during the 2017 college football season.

For a copy of this release in PDF format, click HERE, or view it at FootballFoundation.org.

IRVING, Texas (Aug. 23, 2017) – As the season draws near, the month of August provides the perfect time for the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame to highlight the key rule changes that will take effect during the 2017 college football season.

Since 2011, the NFF has partnered with Rogers Redding, the national coordinator of College Football Officiating (CFO), to help generate awareness for the rule changes in college football through a series of regular columns distributed by the NFF. The CFO functions as the national professional organization for all football officials who work games at the collegiate level, and the organization held its annual winter meeting of conference coordinators for football officials in late January for the fifth consecutive year at the NFF headquarters in Irving, Texas.

Having officiated football for more than three decades, Redding started his career working high school football in Texas. He later officiated in the Southwest Conference from 1988-93, served as a referee in the Southeastern Conference for nearly a decade and worked three national championship games. He received his bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech and later obtained a masters and PhD in physical chemistry from Vanderbilt. Redding was honored with the NFF’s Outstanding Football Official Award in 2010.

The NCAA football rules committee recommended a very small number of changes for the 2017 season, and these were approved earlier this year by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP).  Because 2017 is the “off year” for changes, the committee was limited to making rules that directly impact the safety of the players. Here are the 2017 major rule changes as summarized by Rogers Redding:

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