Alabama and Georgia punched their ticket to the College Football Playoff National Championship game this coming Monday night in Atlanta, with semi final victories on New Year’s Day.
The Tide, ranked fourth in the committee’s rankings and 5th in The Book poll after the regular season, dispatched ACC champion and CFP #1/Book #2 Clemson, 24-6 in the Sugar Bowl, while the Dawgs (#3 CFP/#3 Book) beat Oklahoma (#2 CFP/#1 Book) in one of the greatest Rose Bowl games of all time, 54-48, in double overtime.
The Georgia - Alabama title game marks just the second time ever that two programs from the same conference have played for a title, the last being in the 2011 season when Alabama and LSU played in the Sugar Bowl. That game was a rematch of what was called “The Game of the Century”, a 9-6 LSU win in Tuscaloosa. When it “really counted” though, Alabama shut down and shut out LSU, 21-0 to win Nick Saban’s second championship at Alabama.
This time, The Book will take the Tide as well, favoring Alabama by 1.8 points to capture the 5th championship under Saban which will tie Bear Bryant for the most by any coach.
Now for the opinion and it goes back to the “really counts” comment.
I will preface it by saying that this has nothing to do with SEC fatigue and nothing to do with Alabama’s dominance. Dynasties and make no mistake about it, Alabama is a dynasty, are great for the sport. It gives identity, it provides a target, it creates a love/hate split, the way that the Patriots are now in the NFL on the national front. But...
College football has long touted itself as the most important regular season in all of sports. We are told that every game counts and then we have what happened in this season’s and last’s College Football Playoff.
Consider the following:
- College football is the only sport at any level in the entire world (so far as I know at least), where 1) a team which never loses a game is potentially unable to participate in the sport’s championship playoff (see UCF - 2017) or 2) where a non champion from a league/division/conference is provided access to that playoff and that same entity’s champion is excluded (see Penn State - 2016)
- Not only that, but the non champion actually benefits in the process by not needing to put itself through a demanding conference championship game, essentially being given a bye to the tournament as the last seed (see Alabama - 2017)
Imagine the 6th seed in the NFL playoffs being given a bye to the Conference title game while the 1 seed has to play extra games to get to the same spot.
I believe Alabama will win tonight, I believe they are the best team, but I also believe they benefited wildly from not having to play against Georgia in the SEC title game and spent that extra time getting healthy, which is what they needed to beat Clemson in the Sugar Bowl.
Alabama got a bye to the semi finals by NOT winning.
Both Miami/Clemson and Georgia/Auburn conference title games were played with the general knowledge that the winner was in the playoff, that made them defacto quarterfinal games.
I’ve said before, because of the nature of college football, there is no perfect answer, but I do believe that based on what we’ve seen the past two years, these areas need to be addressed.
What happens week after week needs to matter. Conference championships have to matter as the primary way to break deadlocks, not a secondary or tertiary. By taking Alabama this year and Ohio State a year ago, the CFP minimized the value of the conferences in particular.
Later this week, we will publish the final Book polls as well as revealing our final record straight up and against the spread and how that fared against the other computer polls.
Enjoy tonight’s title game and dream a bit about a day where the Eagles are there!