Any questions regarding how the new playoff committee would address one conference’s dominance against the landscape of college football were answered Tuesday night as the committee placed three teams from the SEC in its initial four team playoff scenario.
And not only from the SEC, but the SEC West.
Of course, some of it may have been window dressing. Top ranked Mississippi State still must play #6 Alabama and #4 Ole Miss. #3 Auburn plays #4 Ole Miss this Saturday, then of course closes the season with a loss at #6 Alabama. Meanwhile #2 FSU is sitting pretty, with more cupcakes than a GiGi’s sampler box just ahead. The Criminole’s only real test comes Thursday night at (yawn) Louisville.
Meanwhile, the four teams mentioned in the SEC West will most assuredly cannibalize themselves in the final weeks of the season. However, with the poll’s release, there is a good shot that a second team from the West could make it in.
If you think about it, that is pretty hilarious, because that’s where this all started. Cries of desperation for change came in 2011 when Alabama was the best team in the country, yet toted a loss to LSU. The BCS system got it right, and Bama went on to win the National Championship with a 21-0 drubbing of the corn dogs in the rematch.
There was nothing wrong with the old system. In my opinion, if you wanted a playoff, it should’ve been kept with the top four teams in the BCS being gathered for competition. And we all know it’s only a matter of time before the “top 4” becomes the “top 8.” It’s human nature to believe there’s something better out there. Contentedness isn’t exactly a common human trait.
From an Alabama perspective, Alabama is in the best possible position heading into the final stretch. I totally agreed with Alabama analyst and Reese’s Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage prior to yesterday’s release of the first poll:
“For my @AlabamaFTBL followers, sort of hoping #Tide will be 5-6-7 in inaugural #CFP ranking. Earn rather than maintain top 4 status in Nov.”
Bama has rarely been given the privilege of playing the part of the hunter in recent years, or in its storied history for that matter. Rather, the Tide has had to bear the burden of being the hunted, an entirely different animal. Teams playing that role currently are those that haven’t exactly displayed the fortitude to keep it up. It’s one thing to lurk in the shadows. It’s another to stand up in the spotlight and perform.
One of those teams will go down this Saturday in Oxford, being wiped from the 2014 mix with the setting Mississippi sun. Either outcome is a win-win for Alabama.
For at least two of the top 3 SEC teams in the initial poll, a premature celebration will be all they’ll be able to claim in 2014. But given the fan bases we’re talking about, hardware at seasons’ end is hardly ever the goal. Rather, a toe-dipping in the college football pool of success is usually more than enough. And for Mississippi State, Auburn and/or Ole Miss, with this first poll, consider it mission accomplished.