hunter fordDoes Alabama really need the SEC championship to make the playoffs and win the national championship? Maybe not.

Would it matter to Tide fans if Alabama took a bye on the trip to Atlanta, but was still able to participate in the College Football Playoff?

When Ole Miss lost to LSU, it gave Alabama new hope for an SEC championship, which is usually one of the most coveted trophies for the Tide and its fans.  In the BCS days, it was often a springboard to the national championship.

The SEC West has become so top-heavy with great teams (that cannibalize each other during the regular season), that the second place team in that division can still be considered one of the elite teams in the country.

Alabama has already set a precedent for winning a national championship without even winning its conference division.

Consider this; if Alabama and Ole Miss both win out, Ole Miss wins the tie-breaker and represents the SEC West in Atlanta. Alabama would likely still be ranked high enough to be in contention for a playoff berth.

Not playing in Atlanta could actually benefit Alabama in a quest for the national championship. It would be one less game that could have negative consequences.  Alabama would be at less risk of having key players injured.  Also, Alabama can’t lose if it doesn’t play.

If Ole Miss were to represent the SEC West and lose to an East team with two losses, could it be possible that the SEC representative to the CFP would be Alabama, instead of either team that participated in the SEC Championship Game?

Of course, Ole Miss could win the SEC with one loss and open up the possibility of two SEC teams in the four-team playoff. That depends on whether the selection committee would be willing to throw more than one SEC team into the mix.  Another scenario is that no SEC team makes the CFP, because they can’t be restrained from beating each other.

As a fan, I want to see Alabama win the SEC title again. If I had to sacrifice a national championship for a conference title, however, that would be fine.

One strange consequence of the new playoff system may be that the SEC Championship Game has been devalued to some degree… at least this season.

If Alabama wins out, it could be in the College Football Playoff, but may miss the SEC Championship game.
If Alabama wins out, it could be in the College Football Playoff, but may miss the SEC Championship game.





7 thoughts on “Does Alabama need conference championship to win bigger prize?”

  1. I see it like this; there are two playoffs, one is for the conference title and the other is for the national title.

    The criteria for each is different, and it’s as simple as that. They share similar characteristics, but not similar goals.

    I’ll also first say Alabama has to get past LSU first. I don’t see that happening this year. Alabama has won the last four in a row over LSU including a national title game shut-out and a season-defining late victory the last time they were in Baton Rouge.

    And against Ole Miss? LSU turned the ball over 5 times. Five. Fournette turned it over 3 times on his own.

    But LSU kept playing him, and he’s a true freshman. He’s part of the reason why LSU won, but also part of the reason why LSU didn’t win by 20+ points. Clemson benched their best runner for the rest of their game Saturday after he dropped a single pitch. But LSU knows more about who LSU really is than anyone else in the nation would like to believe. LSU, as young as they are, has quietly become one of the best teams in the country, believe it or not. They’re only getting better, and now they have a bye-week before their most hated rival comes to town for a night game after the biggest win of LSU’s season?

    I digress; if Alabama wins against LSU and beats MSU at home but Ole Miss beats Auburn and wins the Egg Bowl, Alabama will almost certainly be in the playoff even if the playoff committee completely disregards all currently-existing, meaningless polls to date.

    At this point, and after seeing UK against MSU in Lexington this past weekend, I think Alabama has a better chance of beating MSU at home than beating LSU on the road in spite of the bye-week, although now Alabama has even more injury after losing Cam Robinson in Knoxville. Injury has been a defining characteristic of Alabama’s 2014 season.

    If Alabama can beat both MSU and LSU it will be epic and most people will have little doubt about Alabama’s position in terms of playoff eligibility. The LSU win will likely be under-valued due to the way they beat Ole Miss and the nation’s perspective on the rivalry in recent years, but something tells me most football fans don’t know or respect the defensive side of the ball half as well as the playoff committee.

    Of course, that’s also assuming Alabama can get past Auburn at home. The Ol’ ball coach, Steve Spurrier, used high school tactics against Auburn on Saturday and it nearly resulted in a loss for the Tigers on their own turf despite coming fresh off a bye-week and the Gamecocks being relatively bad this season. I don’t expect Alabama to use the same tactics as Carolina in the Iron Bowl this year (and I wouldn’t be surprised if Malzahn picks those tactics right up off the floor from Spurrier), but the bottom line is any conference loss for Alabama immediatly ends the conversation for any possible title hopes.

  2. Bama will win out. Watch it and see. This team grew up from the Ole Miss loss. Their toughest games are at home and the LSU game will be tough but we will prevail. Gonna be a great rest of the year.

    1. November will be brutal. If Alabama survives November without a loss, then I’ll agree they deserve to be in the top four.

      Until then, Hunter, I’m curious what you think about the first historic playoff committee ballots.

      I think Alabama has lost too many players to injury and performed to inconsistently by comparison to be ranked in the top four…for now.

      However, I’m not sure if the committee will say the same thing. I put Alabama at 6 or 7 (and some of that will play out this weekend while Alabama is on a bye-week), but I wonder, will the committee put Alabama as high as 3 or 4 tonight? So many experts are, albeit with a caveat that there is still a lot of football to be played and the fact that they have to give their picks every week (and before the season, for crying out loud).

      We know one team from the SEC will be in the top four. If there’s more than that, people will cry, and I mean like a newborn in the rain.

      I say let them cry. After all, there is simply nothing anyone can do to stop them from being upset and no result that will make everyone happy…in spite of the season being totally incomplete.

      Again, I don’t agree Alabama is there (yet?), but never forget the playoff wasn’t created to keep Alabama out in 2011, but rather to keep Oklahoma State in. I don’t expect most fans to know the difference, especially outside of the SEC, but, well, here we are.

      It’s another day in history, gentlemen. Enjoy it, and don’t let it get you down no matter what. It’s silly to think all it really means is we get two extra and incredible football games out of it (then again, the BCS wasn’t exactly broken in the first place). Roll Tide.

  3. Nope,

    I don’t know why they bother releasing poll the committee….yeah I do..publicity … TV ratings food for talking heads.

    If Alabama and Miss State play as #1 and #4 in a couple of weeks, that’s almost an in-season playoff game.

    I can’t decide if this new system is more exciting, or if it is going to be bad for an SEC (especially SEC West) that is too good for it’s own good.

    I kinda miss the old days when you played a conference schedule, some non-conference, and then, if you were really good, you played a top-four bowl game with a chance to stake a claim for No 1 in at least one of two polls.

    It never bothered me there could be a split decision in polls. We’ll see, this new playoff will be interesting stuff

    1. I say the system is more exciting because we get two extra football games from at least arguably some of the best teams in the country, it’s the middle-of-the-season stuff that I don’t know is any more exciting.

      Then again, the BCS stuff came out on Sundays, so we wanted to talk about it on Mondays….but it ended up being mostly NFL talk regardless. At least with Tuesday ranking releases we’ll have nothing else to talk about on Wednesday radio and TV than college football.

  4. Back in the old days before BCS made every other bowl irrelevant, you could go into the New Years bowls with several possible outcomes for No 1

    That was exciting

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