In a shocking development, the SEC will have a team in the national college football championship. Wait. Correction: make that two teams, Alabama and Georgia.
They’ll have a rematch of the SEC title game next Monday night in Indianapolis. Bama won the first showdown, 41-17. That was an upset, and a convincing beatdown by Alabama. But because of Georgia’s ruthless 34-11 smackdown of Michigan, the Bulldogs restored their superpower status for the 2021 season and as of now the Crimson Tide are listed as a 3-point underdog. Alabama’s 27-6 victory over Cincinnati was expected and methodical and not as flashy as Georgia’s comeback performance that made Michigan sad.
1) The CFB regular season is the best, a circus of thrills and stunners and ridiculous events that scramble our minds. But the college football postseason? Snore. And the national semifinals almost always fail to deliver excitement. In eight seasons of the four-team playoff, 12 of the 16 semifinal games have been decided by 17-plus points.
I figured Alabama would shove Cincinnati out of the way, and that’s precisely what happened with ‘Bama powering 300+ yards on the ground – 204 by big back Brian Robinson Jr. But in a glaring instance of wishful thinking, I thought Michigan would give Georgia a rumble – and give us a game with punches and counter punches that would carry the drama into the late rounds. Nope. Blowout. And my decision to take Michigan and the 7.5 points was stupid.
Memo to me: invest with your head, not your heart. The elite SEC teams just have better speed and strength and athleticism. Just follow the recruiting classes. The outcome of both games was determined by the offensive lines and defensive lines, and Cincinnati and Michigan couldn’t match up.
2) So it’ll be SEC vs. SEC again. The predictable “I won’t watch” diaper-baby whining is at full pitch, and I don’t blame anyone. But what do you want? The two best teams in the four-team bracket won. Both teams were favored to win. I would like to see a fresh challenger or two make it to a national championship game – but unless a few key players and game officials become part of a conspiracy to fix semifinal games, then what’s the solution? Choose the four teams based on sympathy, and turn this into an everybody gets a chance kiddie-sport exercise with the mommies and daddies making the lesser teams (and their fans) feel better about themselves?
But yeah, agreed, we have a problem. This four-team playoff structure has presented a series of no-contest routs – and damaged the value and appeal of the New Year’s Six games. That’s a poor result. I’m as disappointed as many of you are – but it’s because of how it has played out, and not because I’m an SEC hater and a sore loser. And there is a huge difference.
3) The CFP will be expanded, hopefully soon. And a 12-team format would be best. Just to give more teams a shot, and to attract and raise interest in all regions of the country with all five power conferences (and more reps from the Group of Five) being included. Having more teams would increase the possibility of upsets, but the real benefit is turning this into a national event instead of an SEC Invitational. Will a 12-team system mean fewer SEC teams in the final four? Eventually, I think that’s possible.
But for now, no. In an expanded playoff at least we’d see a greater level of involvement. And if early playoff games are held on home fields, on campus – even better. Much better. That’s a step forward – and that’s a victory over tedium. And with more teams in it, there’s more chance of having unexpected results. And by having a larger field, the New Year’s Six bowls would restore relevance by hosting playoff rounds instead of also-ran exhibitions with players sitting out games to protect their NFL draft status.
4) This much is certain: something must change, and the sooner the better. But the too-much-SEC complaints can’t be solved. As other writers have pointed out, this is about regional power – with the talent on the field. The Southeast region has more programs that mean EVERYTHING in their home states. The fan support is passionate and feverish. The recruiting pools are deep and everlasting. That’s one advantage. The Southeast schools have massive football budgets and more all-around resources and the best overall collection of head coaches and assistant coaches.
As The Athletic noted, teams from outside the SEC and ACC (read: Clemson) have gone 3-12 in CFP semifinals, and two of the three victories occurred in the first season (2014) of the current setup. And with Alabama and Georgia playing for the trophy next Monday, this much is assured: for the 15th time in 16 seasons, the national champion will hail from the SEC or ACC. And an SEC squad will claim the national championship for the 12th time in the last 16 years – and for the fifth time in the eight-season history of the CFP. Alabama has won it three times, and LSU did it one time, in the 2019 season.
5) Not to pile on, but … here are the conference records in the eight-year accounting of the four-team playoff:
Big Ten, 3-5
Big 12, 0-4
Pac 12, 1-2
* Independent (Notre Dame), 0-1.
American (Cincinnati), 0-1.
(* Notre Dame’s second CFP appearance came as a member of the ACC in the 2020 season. The Fighting Irish are 0-2 in the playoff.)
6) Or to put it another way, SEC teams are 13-4 in the CFP; the other conferences (and Notre Dame as an independent) are 10-19.
7) And if you want to bring the BCS into this: in 16 seasons of BCS national championship games, the SEC went 9-2. (Alabama 3-0, Florida 2-0, Tennessee 1-0, LSU 2-1, and Auburn 1-1.) While the SEC was going 9-2 in the BCS title game, programs outside the SEC went 7-14.
8) So if we combine the BCS (16 years) and the current CFP (eight years) and include this season’s champion, which will be an SEC team, here’s the scoreboard: 24 championships, 14 won by the SEC. The ACC is second with four national championships – two by Clemson, two by Florida State. The Big 10 has two (both by Ohio State) but has won only one national championship over the last 19 seasons including this one. That was Ohio State in the first CFP (2014 season.) Sincere question: why would anyone who loves or is affiliated with the Big Ten resent the SEC’s success. Surely the B1G can do better than having one team compete in a national title game over the last 19 seasons.
9) Combining the BCS and the CFP, teams from the SEC are 22-6, and teams from outside the SEC are 17-33.
Clemson has done very well. But the CFP and the BCS experiences have been fairly brutal, and empty, for other conferences.
As Saturday Down South wrote:
– The Big Ten hasn’t had a team other than Ohio State compete in a national title game during the 21st century.
– The Pac-12 has gone the last five seasons without a team in the playoff, and 17 straight seasons without a national champion.
– The Big 12 is winless in the playoff semifinals (0-4) with only one team, Oklahoma, making it that far. And the Big 12 hasn’t claimed a national over the last 16 seasons.
– Clemson is the only current ACC team to win a playoff game and national championship (two) over the eight seasons of CFP showdowns.
10) Don’t waste your time blasting the SEC or concocting absurd, borderline crazy theories about the SEC being overrated. (Mizzou lost that bowl game to Army without top player Tyler Badie, so this just proves the overrated SEC really SUCKS, and we all know that the media is on the ruse. Yeah. OK. That must be it.)
Frankly these anti-SEC fetishes make you look bitter and cuckoo. The focus should be solely on finding ways to make the national college football playoff into a true national event, and at least give more teams a crack at winning a postseason game or two and ruining an SEC team’s season. And that’s just for starters.
Thanks for reading …
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