If Alabama Gets College Football Playoff Bid Over Texas, Why Even Play The Games Anymore?
It took a decade, but the four-team College Football Playoff has succumbed to the inevitability of the sport's inexplicable proclivity for deciding in superfluous meetings things that have already been decided on the football field.
Alabama's SEC championship game upset over two-time-defending-national-champion and No. 1 Georgia, which had won 29 consecutive games, messed everything up. That, coupled with Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis' leg exploding, has derailed this Playoff from what should have been a ho-hum, mundane path toward an uneventful Selection Sunday into a scenario where the CFP committee has to make some actual decisions.
Translation: This is all going to shit.
Two teams have practically clinched bids already. There's zero doubt that undefeated conference champions Washington, who held on after racing out to a huge lead early in the last-ever Pac-12 title game against Oregon, and Michigan, who successfully beat
Iowa its December bye week in the Big Ten championship game, are locked in. At which seeds? That's a different story.
That leaves the committee with just two spots for Bama, Georgia,undefeated ACC champion Florida State, and Texas, who got to 12-1 Saturday with a blowout of Oklahoma State in the Big 12 title game. In a world predicated on common sense, this is a no-brainer: Georgia's the odd one out because the Bulldogs didn't win their conference, something the other three accomplished.
Next, you have to eliminate the Seminoles. I understand that an undefeated Power Five champion has never been left out of the Playoff. Ultimately, though, the committee's job is to select the four best teams, and the truth is FSU isn't even close to being a Top 10 squad without Travis, let alone one of the top four.
So there you have it! The CFP field is Michigan, Washington, Texas, and Alabama, in some order or another. What was so hard about that? Common sense made it pretty simple to figure out.
But this is college football, and common sense is anything but common here. (Kinda how student-athletes are anything but students anymore!)
Florida State Doesn't Belong
The first compounding factor at work is that the committee seems to be worried about hurting Florida State's feelings. The 'Noles likely wouldn't belong in this field even with a healthy Travis at QB. To wit: Their unimpressive 16-6 win over Louisville in Saturday's ACC title game was the Seminoles' first victory over a ranked opponent in six weeks, and just their third this whole season (each of the other teams we're discussing has more).
And don't forget that the ACC is obviously the worst Power Five conference this year. Just three of the league's 14 teams cracked the final regular-season rankings, the worst mark among Power Five conferences.
Imagine a Travis-less Florida State taking on Michigan, Washington, Texas, Bama, or Georgia. FSU couldn't move the ball against Louisville on Saturday night, putting up just 55 passing yards against a Cardinals defense that barely ranked in the top half of the nation's pass defenses. All of the other five teams we've mentioned would chase the 'Noles out of the Playoff in the semis, and anyone who's even barely paying attention knows it.
It Just Means More (Bullshit)
But the dilemma FSU represents is nothing compared to the elephant (and/or bulldog) in the room.
The CFP committee believes we simply must revere the almighty SEC. According to the Bible (probably), it's punishable by death to even consider a College Football Playoff field that doesn't feature at least one team from the Southeastern Conference. But there's a case to be made that neither Bama nor Georgia belong in this year's national championship mini-tournament. Neither went undefeated, and there are three unbeaten conference champions ahead of them.
"But that's just three teams in front of Bama and Georgia," you may think. "That means there's still a spot for one of them!"
Yeeeeeeeeeeeeah... about that.
There's the little, teensy-tiny problem of Texas.
The Longhorns won their conference, which by rights ought to put them ahead of UGA. As for Alabama, Texas is even more problematic.
"How can you say that?!" every ESPN talking head will shout.
"Bama and Texas are both 12-1 conference champions, which is a wash, but the Tide plays in the SEC, and that makes all the difference here!" the legions of Paul Finebaum acolytes will indignantly lecture us, in between gulps of peanut-infused Coca-Cola.
My reasoning is remarkably uncomplicated. I get that this is a novel concept in college football, but when it comes to figuring out who's better or more deserving between Bama and Texas, we don't have to decide it on paper or in some opulent hotel conference room.
Because it was already decided on the field.
Texas went into Tuscaloosa back in Week 2 and laid a historic ass-whoopin' on Alabama. The Longhorns did it under the lights, too, dispatching of the Tide by double digits, 34-24. Bama led for just one minute and nine seconds over the course of the entire night as Texas handed Nick Saban his first-ever double-digit home loss in 17 seasons at Alabama.
It was the Tide's worst home loss in 19 years.
Saban wasted no time Saturday after winning the SEC title game, immediately leveraging his postgame interviews and press conference to minimize the gravity of Texas' dominant win in Tuscaloosa.
"We're not the same team we were when we played Texas," he said, predictably.
The guy's the GOAT, and that's undeniable. But just because he has more crystal footballs than most coaches have winning seasons doesn't mean he gets to redact from the record events that are inconvenient to him. Texas came into Tuscaloosa, under the lights, hung a half-thousand yards on Saban's defense, and won convincingly. It happened in September, but it still happened.
It would be remarkably on brand if the CFP committee selects Alabama over Texas. After all, this is a sport that was played for 145 years before the people in charge finally decided that it's better to determine a champion on the field as opposed to within the imaginations of the writers.
But if it does happen, there's no reason to play the games anymore. Just have a poll the last week of August and crown the champion then. The actual, empirical, observable, demonstrable results and facts clearly don't matter.