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College football’s Alabama problem

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Was there ever any doubt which team the College Football Playoff Committee would choose for the fourth and final playoff spot?

Any college football fan of the past 10 years knew that Alabama would be chosen.

Sure enough, Alabama was selected as the fourth team to make the Playoff, and the decision exposes the biggest problem with college football.

College football rankings has always been a subjective process, and it continues to be in a way that favors Alabama. The rules have continued to shift in favor of Alabama.

The first argument analysts use to justify Alabama’s placement in the playoff is they are the “best” team among the fringe candidates.

Well, why are the games being played then? Why is the season not just determined by recruiting class? Do teams no longer need to prove themselves worthy?

This argument is absurd, and has never been used before until this year, when it suddenly favors Alabama.

Related image

Coach Nick Saban and Alabama Crimson tide take the field. Photo Getty images.

Also, Alabama’s schedule was incredibly weak this season.

“Experts”, especially on ESPN, have always lambasted teams for playing “easy” schedules, such as Washington last season, and Florida State in their National Championship season. Alabama has always been praised for playing through the rigorous SEC schedule.

And then all of a sudden, this season, strength of schedule does not matter. Ohio State’s schedule was clearly more difficult.

Teams have always been criticized for playing weak, out-of-conference games, until the Crimson Tide this season.

Florida State (6-6), Fresno State (non-power 5), Colorado State (non-power 5), and Mercer (FCS) were Alabama’s out of conference opponents. Somehow, there was hardly any criticism of this schedule.

ESPN described Washington’s out of conference schedule as cupcakes on a broadcast, even though both teams played Fresno State, and Alabama played one extra out of conference game.

In conference, the SEC was the weakest it has been for a long time. Alabama’s best wins are versus LSU, who lost to Troy at home, and Mississippi State (4 total losses), who they beat on a final minute touchdown.

The best team they faced all season, Auburn, beat Alabama by double digits.

To summarize, Alabama did not even win its own division in a very weak SEC, and yet was still named one of the 4 best teams.

People compare this year’s Alabama to last year’s Ohio State because neither won their conference championship, but that comparison is well off-base.

Ohio State beat number 5 Oklahoma by 21 points at Oklahoma last season. Alabama has no such signature win.

Look at 2015 Ohio State, that had no signature win and lost the game it needed to win, Michigan State, and ultimately failed to make the Playoff. This is the accurate comparison.

Then, look at this year’s Ohio State who was 3-1 vs top 15 teams (Alabama 0-1). They also played Oklahoma out of conference. Yet they get penalized for losing to Oklahoma when Alabama gets rewarded for playing Mercer in the second to last week of the regular season.

Alabama moved up from 5 to 4 in the final rankings, without playing a game. Auburn got penalized for beating Alabama because they had to play in the SEC Championship (and lost). Alabama benefited from losing to Auburn. The logic is here is significantly skewed.

ESPN has been campaigning hard that the committee made the right decision in choosing Alabama. Don’t let yourself believe the propaganda ESPN feeds you about Alabama and the SEC.  Don’t forget ESPN owns the SEC Network.

In fact, on Sunday when the Playoff teams were announced, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit was on-board with Alabama being chosen. “Alabama plays by a different set of rules… and it’s deserved,” Herbstreit said.

He is right that Alabama does not play by the same rules as all other college football teams. He is wrong that it is “deserved.”

If college football teams are going to make the Playoff based off of brand and reputation, and analysts will proclaim it as justified, then college football is turning into a corrupt sport.

Suddenly, all of the qualifications that have been talked about for the past five years have gone out the window. Apparently, this season out-of-conference opponents, strength of schedule, conference championship, and quality wins no longer matter.

Being Alabama does matter.

It is clear. The rules will continue to change to favor Alabama. The Committee did not have the guts to leave Nick Saban and Alabama out of the Playoff. And it’s an absolute shame.

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College football’s Alabama problem