Short of Alabama football going undefeated, a CFB Playoff berth is not a lock for the Crimson Tide. Let’s consider what makes 2019 different.
The first CFB Selection Committee rankings will be released Tuesday night, Nov. 5. With a bye week, Alabama football fans don’t have anything to sweat the first committee rankings. Any debate over strength of schedule does not affect an undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide.
As we have been doing for the last few weeks, the Bama Hammer staff will publish our rankings after this weekend’s games. In addition to what we believe the rankings should be, we will also present how we think the Selection Committee will vote in the first of their six rankings leading to the 2019, final four.
Speaking for the Bama Hammer staff, I can say we admit our rankings are subjective. So are the rankings of the Selection Committee. Selecting the four best teams can be a challenge when it gets to No. 4 and No. 5, perhaps even No. 6. The Committee takes heat for the flexibility designed into their deliberative process.
Each season, fans debate what matters or should matter most to the rankings. Power Five conference championships matter, but failing to win one does not disqualify a team. Head-to-head matchups can be decisive – or not. Strength of schedule is one of multiple factors. The old ‘eye-ball’ test brings much debate, but the committee needs to include such judgment.
Before we publish our staff rankings, taking a look at another opinion has value. A couple of days ago, Jerry Palm gave his expert opinion on how he thinks the first rankings will look. Palm is basing his prediction on game results through week nine of the CFB season.
Palm’s top four are Ohio State, LSU, Alabama and Penn State, ranked in that order. Yes, he left Clemson out of his Playoff-bound prediction. Dabo’s Tigers are at No. 5. The next five in order are Florida, Auburn, Oregon, Baylor and Oklahoma.
Palm finally concedes a dollop or respect for the Georgia Bulldogs at No. 11. The rest of Palm’s Top 25 are only consequential in the minds of fans of each team. That includes possible Pac 12 champion, Utah.
Fans shocked by Palm’s rankings can make some legitimate challenges. As all Alabama football fans know, the Auburn Tigers already have two losses. The Tigers can only play spoilers this season. Plenty of arguments can ensue over the Playoff merits of Florida, Oregon, Baylor, Oklahoma and Georgia.
There is much football to be played. It is likely more teams will fade than rise. An early guess is 2019 is not the season to argue why an eight-team Playoff is better. More important is finding the four best teams. The Committee failed to achieve that last season with the inclusion of Notre Dame.
The Playoff and the weekly run-up of rankings by the Selection Committee have been good for college football. ESPN also benefits from what it does best, which is creating sizzle. Often lost in consternation over the final rankings is the Committee has a most difficult task.