Per your request, some final thoughts on the college football season

A few readers have asked my thoughts lately on the national title game, a proverbial mail bag in space if you will.  It was almost as if the prospects of another Alabama championship left them feeling all empty inside.  Understandably so.  They wanted to know what I thought of two SEC schools (once again) playing for a title and whether the current system determined a true national champion.

Since they asked so nicely, I thought I’d chime in with some final thoughts on the college season that was and do my best to answer their questions in an objective fashion considering I attended a school in the Southeastern Conference.

So here goes nothing.

This year’s annual, national title game pitted college football’s “best two teams” against one another, both once again from the South and both representing the conference which most believe is pound for pound, the best in the country.

Most college football fans probably wouldn’t argue with that last statement.  After all, SEC schools have won nine of the last twelve national titles.  On the flipside, however, one could make the argument that they’ve been in the best position to do so.  Pollsters have granted these schools the most opportunity to showcase their talent.  For example, if Alabama or Auburn or Georgia begins the season ranked number one and they run the table, it’s hard to keep them out of the playoffs, even if they don’t win their division or play in their conference championship game which I should remind you, Alabama did not.

Meanwhile, schools from non-power conferences, like UCF, can go undefeated and continue to get the cold shoulder.  No one in their right mind is questioning which program is better.  Alabama’s five national championships in the last nine years far outshine what UCF has done on the college landscape of late, if not ever.  That being said, the University of Central Florida is doing their darnedest to show they belong with the big boys, including hoisting national championship banners and publicly challenging the University of Alabama to a home and away.  It’s not that Alabama wouldn’t have waxed Central Florida; it’s that we’ll never know.

Alabama proved yet again just as Ohio State did a few years ago, that you have to be in it to win it.  After that, anything is possible, including a national title that would have done immeasurable good for a fledgling program like UCF and the rest of college football in general.  The last team invited was the last team standing.  Who’s to say it couldn’t have been anyone else?  You can’t dance if you don’t have a ticket.  The fact that UCF beat the team that beat both teams in the national title game has to leave at least a few logical thinkers (pollsters excluded) feeling uneasy and might just kick start (fingers crossed) the push to allow eight teams into the playoffs.

SEC schools were invited in by virtue of being ranked higher all season.  Had UCF, for example, started the season ranked in the top ten, it would have been harder for voters to justify their absence.  The system is rigged to reward the traditional powerhouses.  That’s the way it has always been and at least for the time being, the way it shall remain.  The system is exclusionary and despite annual efforts to make it more equitable or at least accurate, it remains far from perfect.

We currently celebrate Alabama as our national champion and very possibly, deservedly so.  The game was pretty damn riveting too.  Alabama head coach Nick Saban had to do some quick thinking mid-game, replacing his more experienced quarterback with a 19-year old, clearly not wet behind the ears Tua Tagovailoa, who overnight became a household name, if only we could properly pronounce it.  The shift in quarterbacks made Saban appear more genius than many of us already give him credit for.

But there were a few moments in that game, for example an incorrectly whistled offsides call, that would have given Georgia the ball back after a blocked punt with some pretty good field position, giving them the opportunity to go up by three scores and more importantly, put them one giant step closer to their first national title in forty years.  This brings into question whether Alabama was in fact the best program in the nation when for thirty minutes, they were being manhandled by Georgia.  If that call gets made correctly, we might be calling another team the best in the nation.

I’m not suggesting Alabama wasn’t a deserving champion.  Nor am I suggesting that changing things to an eight-team playoff would suddenly create normalcy out of chaos.  But hey, you guys asked.

In the end, I suppose I’m okay with Alabama winning another national title.  It’s what they do.  But just like the end of any other sports season, we can’t help but wonder if the team that won is the best team overall.  The system tells us that’s the case by virtue of their 13-1 record and nothing short of miraculous overtime win.

So, we accept the outcome until we tinker with the system once again, which will happen in time.  In my mind, it just can’t happen soon enough.

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16 Replies to “Per your request, some final thoughts on the college football season”

  1. 1) I had the solution for this problem five years ago with my re-conferenced 16-team play-off. True solution spring from the garden not encumbered with turf-war non-sense. I’m pretty sure Confucius said that.

    2) Point-Counterpoint: The SEC is the bet conference in the country. Pick whichever side you want. And yeah, I’m going to keep bugging you until you do one of these with me.

  2. It’s not the format that’s the problem it is the insistence idiot fans who believe a program from lower tier is simply good enough. If UCF were to play Alabama as part of their schedule or let’s just four other SEC programs, I can guarantee you they’d lose those contests. Until schools really be go out and test themselves against the best during the regular season . Then we’ll just have to make do with what there is.

    Once again poor officiating during an NFL Playoff game. The Patriots won through but it seems the referees were there for Tom Brady and his teammates. Get the feeling Roger Goodell is looking to get back into the good books of Robert Kraft courtesy of the officials ?

  3. Thx for the Bama nod. I was in OH on NC night wearing UA gear and OSU fans were not happy!!! I got told FU just for wearing ALA hoodie in restaurant. How about them Vikings?

  4. Alabama’s freshman AN looks like Ruffio from the movie Hook. I vote we chant that during the games.

  5. After defeating Auburn I thought UCF had a legitimate argument for being invited to the dance. My only problem with that is strength of schedule. Could they stand up to the bruising SEC teams all season? I believe that they deserved a shot at the title, but only after they beat Auburn. If they want to get to the show the program has to schedule highly ranked teams.

  6. Dubs…

    He he, 16 teams might be a bit much.

    I used to side with the whole “more teams in the playoffs diminishes the meaning of the regular season” argument. Now I’m not so sure.

    I’d rather they get it right and there’s nothing wrong with them giving a team that had a season like UCF’s a chance.

    And yes, I’m still toying with the whole Jameis debate so stay tuned.

  7. Al…

    But how are programs like UCF supposed to get any better until they add teams like that to their regular schedule?

    And who wants to play them?

    From what I saw out of the SEC East this season, I’m pretty sure they could have managed.

    Are we okay with Alabama continuing to line up championships because as the system is now comprised, expect more of the same.

  8. Speaking of that, Moose, did you see the video of the Jags fan parading around a Pittsburgh mall talking trash after a game?

    I’d like to see him try that shit in Philadelphia.

  9. Deac…

    With their conference schedule, how many legit out-of-conference teams would be deemed acceptable?

    I agree with the whole strength of schedule argument but who’s gonna play ’em?

    Florida? Not in their right mind, not til they at least pick up the state of their program?

    Miami? Maybe. FSU, perhaps?

    I get the argument. Both sides of it actually. It’s just that the college football’s sample size of a season is too small.

    Let me ask you this. Had UCF played Auburn in the regular season… and beat them, would they have been put into the Final Four over Alabama?

    Riddle me that.

  10. Let’s put it this way Chris , how many teams do you believe that UCF could go head to head with , not only provide them with a competitive game but also beat an opponent from that conference ?

    How many women are willing to become a part of the #MeeTooMovement as it relates to Jameis Winston? Apparently the Buccaneers as well as the NFL are conducting an investigation as to allegations of another sexual assault case against the player ?

    If you’re Mike Mularkey (formerly of) of the Tennessee Titans what was it that he said , that pi$sed off the front office which led to his firing ?

    Instead of upgrading Aaron Rodgers is downgrading in terms of his arm-candy ? He leaves Olivia Munn (actress and former Maxim Cover Girl) in his rear view mirror for former NASCAR driver Danica Patrick ? Say it ain’t so !!!!! LOL,LOL !!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  11. If they had beaten Auburn late in the season I think it would have left the Tide on the beach.
    Can Mullen turn things around in Gainesville? I for one am cautiously optimistic.

  12. It really is all about scheduling. UCF did have a game with Ga tech that was cancelled, so that is not on them. That said, the conference they play in is total trash. If they don’t GO ON THE ROAD and play quality teams then I have no sympathy for them. FSU did it in the 70/80’s when they were in the metro conference. UCF can as well. Great year for them. Also imagine after playing Auburn they had to play LSU, Bama and Texas A & M among others. Injuries and wear and tear are different with the big boys week in and week out.

    Also when Boise St, Utah, etc… did this a few years ago there was not parades thrown, self declared national championships. If anything, UCF looks like a petulant child throwing a tantrum. One last thing, the power 5 conferences have built college football over the years and more than deserve the reap the benefits and UCF doesn’t deserve to swoop in and grab the glory with sub-par scheduling, sorry.

  13. Al…

    As riveting as the college season is, it’s still as flawed as can be.

    UCF shouldn’t have to load up its schedule with non-stop heavyweights. Alabama doesn’t. Look at their schedule this year and tell me who was tough in the regular season.

    I’m not sure what needs to be done but I can tell you this.

    When the NCAA realizes how much money they can make on an extra four playoff games, I’m pretty sure they’ll be all in.

    Let’s just hope they don’t fuck it up like they do everything else.

  14. Me too, Deac.

    He’s already hard on the recruiting trail.

    He’s gonna have his hands full though. UGA looks like they’re gonna be relevant for quite some time.

  15. So let me ask you something, D.

    If you were a top notch high school athlete, perhaps looking to make it to the next level, why in the world would you ever want to attend one of the smaller conference schools?

    I guess the short answer is… you wouldn’t.

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