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.