Mountain West lucky SDSU is hosting championship game, but composite rankings shouldn’t be used to determine that

by Kris Keehl, Senior Staff Columnist

When the San Diego State football team put the finishing touches on a 31-14 victory over University of Nevada on Saturday night, it was the first time since 1974 that SDSU finished conference play undefeated.

The game had more meaning, though. The Aztecs needed the win and also needed Air Force Academy to lose to University to New Mexico.

An SDSU win and an Air Force loss would most likely move SDSU ahead of Air Force in composite rankings, which would make SDSU the host of the 2015 Mountain West Championship game.

But there was always this “what if?” factor.

What if SDSU, an undefeated team, would have to travel to Air Force, a two-loss team, to play a championship game because that’s what four computers decided?

The “what if?” factor dissipated on Sunday morning when the MW announced SDSU was ahead of Air Force in composite rankings after its win and Air Force’s 47-35 loss to New Mexico, and would therefore host the conference championship game.

This is what most people call failing forward.

The MW failed to have a legitimate means to determine the host of the conference championship game when it decided computers were better than traditional methods.

Time-tested traditional methods include: overall record, head-to-head record, conference record, record versus like-opponents, points scored and points against.

The Aztecs held the edge in overall record, conference record, record versus like-opponents and points against. Neither team played each other and Air Force held a 2.6 points-per-game average over the Aztecs.

The MW was fortunate that New Mexico beat Air Force 47-35, which caused the Falcons to drop dramatically in the composite rankings.

The team that should be hosting the MW championship game will host the championship game, but all of this is in spite of the MW.

The purpose of using composite rankings is pure. The MW wanted to ensure that any team ranked by the College Football Playoff committee would host the conference championship, and if neither division winner was ranked in CFP top 25, the next highest ranked team would host.

It just seems so nonsensical that somewhere along the line the league never accounted for a team going undefeated and holding a lesser composite ranking in polls where no one, except the creators of the polls, is entirely sure how they are determined.

This whole controversy could have never existed, though.

In a world where the have-nots — Group of Five conferences — want everything the Power Five conferences have, it would make sense for Group of Five conferences to try their best to emulate the way Power Five conferences conducted conference championships.

Power Five conferences don’t allow home-field advantage in a conference championship. All conference championships are played at a neutral site that’s determined long before the last week of the season, and in a city that’s not home to a conference team.

The challenge with finding a neutral site for the MW Championship is trying to find a venue that’s not too big while also finding a destination that would attract those fans that are on the fence about going to the game.

Unsurprisingly, MW fan bases aren’t known to travel in large masses to follow their team.

Natural suggestions would be Hawaii or California as a destination, but only four of the 12 MW teams come from this geographic area.

One suggestion for future championship games would be holding the game at Folsom Field, the home field for University of Colorado. The field is located in Boulder, Colorado, which is approximately 45 minutes from Denver. The field holds 50,183 fans and also has luxury boxes, which could earn more money for the MW.

Another potential site for the championship is LaVell Edwards Stadium on the campus of BYU in Provo, Utah. Like Folsom Field, LaVell Edwards Stadium has luxury boxes and is only 45 minutes away from Salt Lake City, Utah. This stadium is holds 63,725 fans.

The MW needs to count its blessings that a catastrophe didn’t take place as a result of its policies.

It’s time to put this conversation to bed and take positive steps toward a neutral site.