We got chaos, but does Alabama have a Playoff path? No way. Here's why
I feared that we’d hear it discussed at some point during the Iron Bowl. And don’t you know it, that’s exactly what happened with 10 minutes left.
That is, the Alabama Playoff path.
Didn’t see it? Don’t worry. I took notes.
According to CBS, the Alabama Playoff path is:
- TCU loses the Big 12 Championship
- LSU loses either at A&M or in SEC Championship
- USC loses vs. Notre Dame or in Pac-12 Championship
- Beat Auburn in Iron Bowl … then wait
But wait! There’s more stupidity from CBS!
Gary Danielson, totally unaware that Jahmyr Gibbs’ garbage time touchdown helped out anyone who bet Alabama -21.5, said this little gem:
“When they look at these games maybe 3 weeks from now when they’re deciding, 2 weeks from now, the committee, the score will pop up and this last touchdown will mean something when they start discussing Alabama.”
Goodness. Where should I start?
Well, first of all, maybe we should only listen to Playoff thoughts from someone who has a clue when the Playoff is announced. It’s not in 3 weeks. It’s not in 2 weeks. It’s a week from Sunday, which was 8 days away from the time that Danielson actually said that on public airwaves.
The other part? Oh, that’s right. Alabama ain’t getting into the Playoff without a ticket.
“But what about the chaos?! The Clemson loss, Connor! And Ohio State got crushed! That helped Bama!”
Nope. You know what would’ve helped Alabama? Not losing a second game.
And if you tell me “well, Alabama lost to 2 top-10 teams on last-second plays and could easily be 12-0,” I’d roll my eyes, clear my throat and then say, “Cool. Now let’s talk about Alabama getting a game-winning field goal with 10 seconds left at Texas. While we’re at it, let’s talk about Alabama’s goal-line stand to survive 4-win A&M and the red-zone stand to survive 4-loss Ole Miss.”
Alabama could have 5 losses, too. But yes, that’s too glass half-empty of me.
Let’s just stick with the facts. The facts are that a 2-loss team has never made the Playoff. We’re in Year 9 of this thing. Maybe LSU will beat Georgia and change that.
So in this fantasy world of Alabama having a Playoff path, do we really think the selection committee is going to sit down next week (not in 2 or 3 weeks) and decide that the first ever 2-loss team to make the field will be a non-divisional champ who didn’t have a single win against a team with fewer than 4 losses? I sure as heck don’t.
Besides the fact that Alabama has a thin 2-loss résumé, which might not have a single win against a top-15 team, let’s look around.
Georgia is in, even with a first loss. That spot is locked up. Same with Michigan.
So let’s say 2 spots are up for grabs. USC, Ohio State and TCU are all in the running. USC, at the time of this writing, is about to take on Notre Dame. A 2-loss USC team who wins the Pac-12 Championship? Still more worthy than Alabama. I’d argue a 2-loss USC team who beats Notre Dame and loses in the Pac-12 Championship is still more worthy.
But that’s not my point. My point is that a 1-loss Ohio State team will be more worthy, as will TCU, who will have 1 loss at most because it’ll go into the Big 12 Championship undefeated.
We’ve got 3 unbeatens from 3 different Power 5 conferences heading into their championships, and an Ohio State team who has been ranked no worse than No. 2 by the selection committee, will have a maximum of 1 loss. Plus, the Buckeyes won at 2-loss and top-10 bound Penn State. That win is better than any Alabama had.
If Alabama had been vintage Alabama? Sure. Let’s at least discuss. But this team played 9 games against Power 5 competition, and 6 of them were 1-score games in the 4th quarter (even Arkansas was a 1-score game until that Jalen Milroe score).
See what I’m getting at?
Even Nick Saban sounded surprised when Jenny Dell asked him in the post-Iron Bowl victory interview if he thought his team was worthy of the Playoff. Like the rest of us who think clearly, I’m sure he dismissed that weeks ago.
I will say this. It’s clear that the selection committee valued Alabama’s résumé more than I did. Ranking the Tide at No. 7 ahead of a 1-loss Clemson team was … debatable.
Personally, I’m not high on 2-loss teams with just 3 wins against Power 5 teams with winning records (TCU had 6 entering Saturday). Perhaps the Tide have a shot at earning that No. 6 or even that No. 5 spot in the final rankings. But a 2-loss, non-division champ doesn’t have the advantage over 1-loss Ohio State or 1-loss TCU, and that’s what this comes down to.
The good news for Alabama? The only other instances during the Playoff era in which it failed to reach a national championship were followed by titles a year later. Maybe the Tide will bounce back better than ever and show that the dynasty isn’t dead. There’s still time for that.
But the Playoff argument for Alabama died in Baton Rouge, whether Danielson and Co. realize it or not.