The College Football season is less than three months away but I am already giddy with anticipation. The NCAA announced a 12 team football format that should officially eliminate selection controversy – for at least any rational fan.
The field will consist of the six highest-ranked conference champions and six at-large teams with the top four champions receiving byes. If your team is on the fringe for the playoffs, you really can’t consider yourself a contender. I am sure that it is possible for a two-loss Power Five team like Florida to go into the SEC championship game and lose, see their ranking drop below 12 and get eliminated from the playoffs. I seriously doubt that would happen to any one-loss Power Five team. And, if you have three defeats, is there really any room to complain? At some point, you have to win games.
Not to mention, but perhaps in future years there may actual be suspense to the selection. Currently, the selection process is as predictable as a Fast and Furious movie. Recall, that somanystadiums easily predicted the final bracket before any of the conference championships were played. Considering that we go only slightly above 500 picking games every year tells you how easy it is to determine what the committee is going to do.
Perhaps, even more importantly, the Notre Dame golden ticket has been eliminated. The Domers either need to join a conference or just plain win. The proposal gets it right as anyone who has witnessed the recent carnage of Irish college football playoff performances could testify to.
This also gives the Group of Five teams a legitimate shot at the playoffs. Do I expect to see Boise State, Coastal Carolina or UCF make a run to the National Title? Not at all, but I do see them scoring the occasional upset. Not unlike March Madness, “December Desperation” (yeah – I am still working on that), will sometimes result in the “best” team not winning it all. I am okay with that. It is far better to settle it on the field than to have someone decide who the best four teams are. Better to leave the judging to figure skating.
In other news, we are feverishly working on our full 2021 fall schedule going on faith that the games will be back to normal. Get your vaccines folks. I don’t want to see any partially full stadiums. Well, okay, even 100% vaccination rates are not going to guarantee the likes of Rice, UAB, or FIU having full stadiums. There are some things even science can’t solve.
It’s the first post, post my annual winter hibernation. Of course, the entire 2020 season felt like a hibernation. For the first time in years, I went to no football games. From the risk of covid, to reduced attendance, to tailgating bans, it was awfully hard to justify going to any stadium. I would have felt compelled to re-visit any of the sites that I visited in 2020 given all the restraints. I mean even the SEC wasn’t quite the same, except for ‘Bama winning again.
While I find Alabama’s dominance frustrating, I have come to realize that I should actually savor the experience. There may be another program that has similar success in the future, but for now, I am cherishing Saban’s success as one of those things I can tell my grandkids about. Like seeing Alabama struggle early with Ol Miss initially, only to simply press on the gas and end up sealing the win at the end of the first half. That was one of my big games from 2019 and one that will stand out for the sheer superiority of the Tide. Roll Damn Tide indeed.
As I look toward 2021, I am already in the early planning stages for the season. I am not the only one as I have received multiple texts from the Somanystadium crew as to what games we are going to hit. It is too soon to say for sure, but I have already claimed a pass from the boss (my wife that is) that Labor Day weekend is in the Great Lakes region. Hopefully, we will be heading to Minnesota to see Gophers host the Buckeyes. (Sorry Betsy, but I’d rather see the Gophers in a t-shirt than a parka, even if that is cheating). Then, it is over to Camp Randall to see the Badgers host the Nittany Lions. Yeah, you betcha. That’s a great opening weekend.
I have my eye on some other teams, mostly in the mid west and mountain west. Other places I like to get to include Oklahoma and SMU where I can do a full tailgate spread.
In the meantime, we’ll start adding more content and videos soon.
We are glad to see the end of the pandemic tunnel.
Sometimes, I hate being right. The playoff selection process is so laden with bias and status quo that here at Somanystadiums we were able to fully predict the playoff field with all the “championship games” yet to be played.
Some things we knew right off the bat:
Alabama was in, win or lose. Even if the Tide had lost by 35, they were in under the “We want the four best teams” sentiment. The premise is fine if you have an eight field team where you can give a Power Five team a break for the one-off loss. However, it makes conference championship games meaningless. Bama has looked great all year so they were automatically in, win or lose.
Notre Dame was in, win or lose. This is all about the national team / east coast bias for the Irish. They are a good team, and at times, a great team. I would have given this spot to Texas A&M. But, I have seen A&M play a few times this year and their case is only a little bit stronger. We are talking feet, not yards if you are looking for a football analogy. Nonetheless, I’d rather see the Aggies than the Irish. I think ND is going to get crushed by the Tide. Having already played them once, I give A&M a better shot.
Clemson had to win to get in. I think everyone knows they are heads and shoulders better than ND, but they had to prove it. They don’t get the old school, east-coast bias benefit that ND does today so a win was a must.
Ohio State was in the same boat, but only because they had played six games. To be fair, the Buckeyes have been winning with a lot of backups thanks to Covid-19 precautions. If Ohio State had rolled into the Big Ten championship 11-0, they would have gotten the east coast bias, beauty contest playoff bid. Of course, you could argue the Big Ten already gave them that gift when they changed the conference requirement rules. Like it or not, the Buckeyes did take care of business.
This left Texas A&M hoping for some upsets. None of which happened. Gig’ em next year.
As Bruce Hornsby sings, “Did you really think about it before you made the rules?” This is not the way it should be. The playoffs should be an eight team field team with the following fully transparent rules.
1) Power Five conference winners get an automatic bid.
2) Undefeated Group of Five conference winners get an automatic bid.
3) Remaining slots filled by Selection Committee ranking.
With that in mind, this is what it should look like.
Bama is still the number one seed and they get the Oregon Ducks, as PAC 12 champions. I hate that the Ducks get in over say a Florida or Coastal Carolina, but by virtue of winning their conference, they are in. If Florida had beaten Texas A&M, they would have been in a much different spot. Plus, this season is different and giving a PAC 12 team a shot would be a lot more inclusive. The PAC 12 winner would not be nearly as problematic if the USC Trojans had taken care of business in the first place.
Notre Dame still gets in with an at-large bid and the four seed based on the selection committee ranking (thank you very much east coast bias). Texas A&M gets the other at-large bid and comes in at five. Honestly, isn’t this the game you wanted to see anyway? It allows the arguments to be settled on the field instead of in a hotel conference room.
Clemson rightly gets the number two seed and would play the Bearcats of Cincinnati. The Bearcats are undefeated and won the American Athletic Conference. Congrats Group of Five, you wanted it, you got it.
Ohio State gets the third seed and will play Oklahoma, the Big 12 Champion. Is Florida better than Oklahoma? The selection committee didn’t think so, having put the Sooners one spot ahead of the Gators.
The big losers in my eight game scenario are the following:
Florida. The Gators looked awfully good on offense against Bama. It feels like they could keep up with anyone in a shoot-out. Again though, when a team loses three games, it is hard to feel too badly for them.
Coastal Carolina. Let me be clear, had the Chanticleers beaten Louisiana (Lafayette) in the now cancelled Sunbelt Championship, they would have rightfully knocked out Texas A&M, only because the committee rated ND ahead of them. However, since this is a purely hypothetical bracket. I would suggest the Committee put A&M above Notre Dame. This way, you would get some great regional games that feel very much like first round playoffs. Coastal would play Clemson, OU would take on Texas A&M, and Cincinnati would play the Buckeyes. Plus, college football fans get the added bonus of watching Irish fans go apoplectic and wail at the injustice of it all. My work here is done.
I am not alone in my assessment of the challenges facing the current system. You know there are problems when even the NCAA poster boys at ESPN’s Game Day are bad mouthing the college playoff system. As an aside, it was not exactly a great year for Game Day. From the forced and tenuous connection between The Masters and college football to backdrops with no audiences, the show really never caught its stride this year. The Bear’s Bank segments feel like they have run their course. When your picks are hitting only half the time, it’s the equivalent of a Christmas Club savings account – a feel good endeavor at best, and wasting away money at the worst.
But it wasn’t just ESPN that struggled. Some of the weekends, let alone games, were unwatchable this year. I am not sure that is the fault of anyone, it was just the way Covid-19 impacted the season. Thankfully, the precautions, by and large, kept most everyone safe. Sadly, though, there were some outliers. With that in mind, please celebrate the holidays with as much care and responsibility as possible. Let’s make 2021 a better year in every sense of the word.
It is championship weekend in college football. With the current playoff approach in the FBS, this weekend is at best, a slate with one or two big games and at worst, a weekend of frustration coupled with a false sense of importance. This year it is definitely the latter rather than the former. You might as well call this “Whoever is healthy enough to play weekend” with the Sunbelt game between Louisiana and Coastal Carolina being cancelled and Oregon being the substituted for Washington for the PAC 12 championship. The Cajuns against the Chanticleers was one of the games that actually had some appeal this weekend. As for the PAC 12, they, again, made the case for being the weakest of the Power 5 as USC managed to lose to the understudy Ducks of Oregon.
These examples are the appetizer to the real problem of championship weekend and that lies with the moronic approach to the college football playoffs. I will save my full diatribe for after selection Sunday, but suffice it to say, this is a beauty contest. Case in point, does anyone believe that Alabama won’t be in the playoff even if they lose the SEC Championship game? Likewise, if Notre Dame loses a close game to Clemson, do they still get in? And then what happens to Florida or A&M? I can tell you what won’t happen. Cincinnati could beat Tulsa by 50 and they still aren’t getting in.
Now, I get it. This year is so goofy it does not really matter. This year’s national championship is, well, asterisk worthy. Of course, this begs the question, “Then, why not expand to eight teams?” Hard to make a case about safety when most teams did not play a full slate and frankly, games were played during a pandemic anyway. It is also hard to argue that you can’t do it from a logistic perspective. One of the best games this season, BYU versus Coastal Carolina, was scheduled on a Wednesday and played three days later. I don’t know what is more unsettlingly, that Alabama could roll out their jayvees without about impacting their playoff spot, or that those jayvees would still roll Florida by 20.
In other notes, I tried to assemble the December SI Wall Calendar with only red and green covers for Christmas. As you can see, it was not exactly the effect I was looking for. Surprisingly, there were not enough solidly colored covers. By the end of the month, I was forced to go with silver and gold as well. This effort was a definite fail. I will add it to the list of 2020 disappointments. I can tell you what my early Christmas wish is. Florida thumps Bama, Notre Dame crushes Clemson, Tennessee upsets A&M and Northwestern upsets Ohio State. Let’s see what the selection committee does then.
Doubt that’s going to happen, so I will settle for a some good games.
If there was ever a year that you’d say a Hokie is a Turkey, it would be 2020. The only thing the Hokies have to be thankful for is that they don’t have to play Clemson until next week.
This week is normally one of the best weeks in college football. There’s nothing like rivalry week to bring out the best in teams. Alas, Covid-19 has claimed this weekend, with several traditional rivalry games not being played.
Typically, Thursday is for the NFL. Unfortunately, we’re getting the brussels sprouts (Houston versus Detroit) and lima bean casserole (Washington versus Dallas) of Thanksgiving games, with the stuffing (Ravens versus Steelers) relegated to Sunday leftovers. Thankfully, the NCAA has responded with University of New Mexico (0-4) versus Utah State University (0-4). Mmmm, creamed onions anyone?
Friday’s slate improves if you were looking for an excuse for not putting up the Christmas lights. ISU at Texas and ND at UNC should prove to be watchable. If you must get out of the house, there’s still tickets available for UMass at Liberty, although they are bit pricey.
Liberty is a dry campus but I hear that Falwell’s tailgate is jumping. Just ask for the signature drink, “The Pool Boy”.
ABC’s big game on noon EST is PSU at Michigan. Hmm, anyone up for Maryland versus Indiana? The Iron Bowl is still a thing this year, but does it count with Saban watching from his den? Well, maybe he can catch up on his Aflac paperwork. If your family Thanksgiving was cancelled, you still have a chance to get Covid-19 . There’s going to be a super spreader event at College Station this weekend as the Texas A&M hosts LSU. Wear those masks Aggie faithful.