The latest rankings could show something is afoot for the playoff selection

Big 12 Report: Did the Big 12 get set up by the selection committee?

The latest college football playoff rankings have me thinking the committee might have a scheme for the Big 12. There are a few elements to this scheme, so let's see what all the elements are to my conspiracy theory.

The Baylor Jump

A victory at home against a disappointing Texas team got Baylor a five spot jump? FIVE SPOTS?

That is crazy! A few weeks ago Oklahoma barely budged when they beat Baylor in Waco but somehow this week the Bears jump five spots because of a victory over the Longhorns? This is one of the wildest moments by this version of the committee so far.

Oklahoma holding steady

The Sooners jumped up two spots with the losses of the Oregon Ducks and Penn State. They trail only the undefeated teams, Georgia, Alabama, and Utah.

It is important to note that while the Sooners moved up, it wasn't on their own virtue, it was two teams losing in front of them. Oklahoma though, has a leg up on Alabama and Utah down the stretch.

They have two ranked opponents left on their schedule with a rivalry game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater and a Big 12 Championship showdown with Baylor. Neither Utah nor Alabama can face a team ranked as high as Baylor or a second ranked team.

Now, obviously if Baylor slips up against Kansas the Big 12 is screwed.

A top ten victory over the Bears would be a great data point that Alabama nor Utah would possess. The committee added the best win among the contenders for the fourth spot to the equation with how they ranked Baylor.

Rewarding attempted tough scheduling

Here are the non-conference games for Oklahoma, Utah, and Alabama.

Oklahoma

vs Houston

vs South Dakota

at UCLA

Utah

@ BYU

vs Northern Illinois

vs Idaho State

Alabama

vs Duke (neutral site)

vs New Mexico State

vs Southern Mississippi

vs Western Carolina

At some point, the committee needs to reward someone who isn't undefeated but scheduled harder than their opponents. Oklahoma scheduled a team that was supposed to compete for the best Group of 5 team mantle in the Houston Cougars. UCLA was supposed to be solid this year under Chip Kelly.

Utah has a built in rivalry game with BYU which isn't a bad team but isn't a good team. The other two games aren't on UCLA or Houston's level. Alabama's non-conference was a joke this season. They didn't leave the South and didn't play a true road game.

The selection committee needs to eventually reward scheduling when records are equal and the conference's are unbalanced.

Oklahoma's case is solid, but they might need help

An easy victory over Oklahoma State and Baylor would go a long way towards the ​Sooners making the playoff yet again.

They need help though. Oregon beating Utah would go a long way to keeping the discussion limited to Alabama or Oklahoma for the final spot in the playoff. Auburn slowing down Alabama and playing them close might help the Sooners too. If backup quarterback Mac Jones struggles, the Crimson Tide could be losing support as one of the top four teams. Also, a Georgia upset of LSU in the SEC championship likely voids Utah, Alabama, and Oklahoma's chances.

Of course, should Auburn upset Alabama, the Sooners would be near locks to make the playoffs.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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