There will be enough scrutiny on them next season -- more than the teams in contention will face. According to ESPN's Stats & Info, if the playoff were in place right now, the four most deserving teams based on résumé alone are Stanford, Florida State, Auburn and Michigan State.
That's right. Stanford.
Assuming the committee would favor Alabama the way much of the rest of the country does right now, how it might distinguish between Michigan State and Stanford would probably be one of its biggest challenges this year. The Spartans got a boost at the end from an upset of what was then the No. 2 team in the country, but Stanford beat No. 3 Oregon -- and six other ranked opponents. Michigan State also lost to Notre Dame -- a team that Stanford beat 27-20.
"We'll throw everything out there, strength of schedule, players injured early in season, late in the season, conferences, conference champions," said committee member Archie Manning, who also said he purposely didn't try and rank the top four teams this year because he knew he'd be doing it next season. ""We know No. 5 and No. 6 [teams in the rankings] are going to be mad."
They're not doing their jobs if somebody isn't.
Like, say, Auburn.
Is Auburn really the No. 2 team in the country because it beat Alabama on a jaw-dropping 109-yard field goal return? Or is Alabama, the two-time defending national champs, the better team in spite of the head-to-head result against the SEC champs?
"Yes, there would be debate, absolutely," said one person involved in the playoff who declined to be named. "You bet there'd be debate."
Maybe it's not as easy as 1, 2, 3 … 4.