THEY'LL BE BACK
Hard truths: CFP National Championship produces exciting game, harsh reality
I watched Georgia wear down and wallop Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship – that’s the full legal name of the title game – and thought, this is starting to feel like watching a Seinfeld rerun for the thousandth time. An SEC team winning the title game isn’t exactly a Festivus miracle.
The game should have a new name: “The SEC Invitational.” Or, “Who Gets to Play Alabama This Year?”
There’s no question that the Southeastern Conference dominates college football. And that’s exactly what is making the college game a predictable and, with each passing year (Bama quarterback Bryce Young threw 57 passes against the Bulldogs) a one-conference race to the top.
The current College Football Playoff system began in 2014, so there’ve been eight championship games. The SEC has sent a representative team every year except once, the first CFP title showdown when Ohio State faced Oregon. Since then, the championship game has been like an AM oldies station, all SEC all the time. Plus four appearances by Clemson and cameos by Ohio State (two) and Oregon (one). LSU from the SEC won the championship in 2019.
What Power 5 conferences? The Pac-12 hasn’t produced a serious contender for the title since Oregon was favored by 7 points, and got drubbed by Ohio State, 42-20. A Big 12 team has never appeared in a CFP championship game. And the Big 12’s chances aren’t improving with Texas and Oklahoma one foot out the door. The Big Ten really is the Big One – Ohio State. Same for the ACC where Clemson stands alone.
Eight championship games, with 16 opportunities to play, and the SEC owns nine of the slots, with Alabama practically the home team. Don’t worry about last night’s defeat, Alabama will be back. And back and back.
Alabama has played in the title game six times in eight years. You can’t say it’s unfair because there are 125 Division 1 college football programs and they all start the season at Square One. But really, Alabama starts its season first down on the opponent’s 5-yard line.
Alabama doesn’t have just one first-round draft pick of 5-star high school recruits. Bama, like all D1 schools, can offer 85 full ride scholarships. That means Alabama has 85 first-round selections. How many blue chip recruits are going to say no to Nick Saban, the most celebrated coach in college football history, when he makes the Alabama pitch to a teenager?
“You want to play in the NFL? Alabama has more players in the NFL than any other college and it’s not even close. Every one of our games is on national TV. We have a beautiful stadium, the finest facilities in college sports and we play in a warm climate. Six of our players will be drafted in the first-round this year. We’ve had four Heisman Trophy winners in the past 12 years, including the last two. We sent 14 players to the NFL last year. And our sophomore quarterback this year made nearly $1 million in endorsements before he ever took a snap for us. So what do you say, kid? I happen to have a pen with me.”
It’s just a coincidence, but Bama has 53 players currently on an NFL roster, and an NFL game day roster has 53 players. What if all the Crimson Tide guys were on the same team? Would that team make the playoffs? Make a run for the Super Bowl? It’s an intriguing hypothetical.
At quarterback, starters Jalen Hurts (Eagles) and Mac Jones (Patriots) led their teams into the playoffs this year. A third, Tua Tagovailoa (Miami), just missed the post-season.
At running back, Bama has produced playoff-bound bruisers Derrick Henry and Najee Harris.
Alabama has speed to burn at wide receiver: Amari Cooper, Julio Jones, Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith.
Last year a total of 64 Crimson Tide alums got into an NFL regular-season game. Actually Bama has 82 players in the NFL if you include offseason rosters. That includes: 11 linebackers, 10 receivers, 10 defensive linemen, 10 defensive backs, four quarterbacks, and even a long snapper and kicker.
I’d put the Vegas line at ex-Alabama (-8) over the Houston Texans.
By the way, the 2024 College Football Playoff Championship game will be played at NRG Stadium in Houston. Who do you think will be Alabama’s opponent?