Alabama football fans have no reason to engage in the looming national dismay of who gets left out of the College Football Playoff final four.
In the SEC Championship, only one team has a CFB Playoff play-in game. Alabama football is not that team. Georgia must win to advance. The Alabama Crimson Tide just has to not lose badly.
The are two reasons Alabama football sits in such an advantaged position. Mainly, the Crimson Tide has clearly been college football’s best team in the regular season. Anyone debating that point is delusional. Also, the Tide’s solid position is reinforced by the reality CFB has maybe four teams deserving of being in the Playoff field. If the favorite wins in the SEC Championship game, that number of deserving teams drops to three.
Our premise is very much a minority opinion. Most of CFB punditry mindlessly obsesses over Power Five conference champions missing a Playoff. This season, three of the Power Fives could be excluded. Eight-team Playoff bloviators spew invectives over such a result. Being wrong does nothing to diminish their frenzy for growing the Playoff field.
The abiding Committee purpose is defining the four best teams
Why they are wrong is quite simple. The purpose of the current Playoff system is to determine the four best teams. When the Playoff selections history shows the committee fails in picking the four best teams – maybe then there is a reason to modify. Most college football experts, unclouded by self-serving whining, will admit the committee has been very, very good at selecting the four best teams.
This season, the only legitimate accusation aimed at the Committee concerns Notre Dame. The Irish are probably well outside the four best teams but cannot be excluded because of a perfect regular season record. If Oklahoma or Ohio State fail to make the final four, there is an argument both teams are better than Notre Dame.
The soundest observation by anyone comes from Pat Forde and Yahoo Sports. Forde contends currently, CFB has three Playoff-deserving teams: Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame. He is prepared to include Georgia if the Bulldogs win on Saturday. Who Forde does not consider deserving are Oklahoma, Ohio State and UCF. We could not agree more.
If Alabama football wins Saturday, the Playoff field will have two clearly deserving teams in the Crimson Tide and Clemson. A third (Notre Dame) gets in by an undefeated default. If Georgia wins, there will be three deserving teams, plus the Irish.
Eight team field in 2018 would be a joke
Consider how a much coveted eight-team field would be filled in 2018. After Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and maybe Georgia (with a Saturday win), the next four are not close to any standard of being considered one of the nation’s four best teams. Throw in maybe Oklahoma, maybe Ohio State, UCF and another overrated team and the Playoff field is bigger, but not better.
At eight, the regular season is devalued. Even more so, some conference championships will be meaningless. At eight teams this season, Saturday’s SEC Championship becomes a tedious and risky (potential injuries) waste of time and effort. If there is such willingness to make CFB a tournament sport, eight is not enough. As Mike Leach has said, 16 would be better or even 32. At 32 Playoff teams, a 7-5 Auburn team probably makes the field. Talk about rewarding mediocrity.
If the Playoff field must expand, I hope it never goes past six teams. And please, in that format, don’t lock in slots for each Power Five conference champion. Do what the Committee does now. Pick the four best teams (or six) and exclude all the annual pretenders.
There will be a day when Alabama football fails to make the final four. When that happens, I intend to not succumb to the expand the Playoff foolishness.