Alabama Football: Big Ten, Pac-12 and College Football Playoff

Alabama Football not looking for a shortcut to the CFB Playoff. Can the same be said for other programs?

Alabama football coach, Nick Saban does not believe in shortcuts. For the Crimson Tide, gifts are not sought. Rewards are to be earned. The Alabama football program is focused on reaching the College Football Playoff and playing for another championship – using no shortcuts in the process.

At least another twenty or so programs have exactly the same goal. It might be more than twenty. It is precisely every SEC, ACC and Big 12 program that believes it can contend for a championship. Those coaches, no doubt, agree with Nick Saban that no shortcut to a championship is acceptable.

Theoretically, Big Ten and Pac-12 coaches are also not seeking a championship shortcut. They want to compete, as soon in the fall as possible. The Athletic Directors and Presidents from the two conferences have been in no rush to commence a fall season, even with the increasingly obvious reality that a spring season does not make sense. A new fall season has commenced with no concrete plans from the two conferences.

A few days ago, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney was clear he does not believe the CFB Playoff should be delayed. He expressed a strong preference for the Big Ten and Pac-12 playing fall football, but with a “traditional” season. Dabo was not asked to elaborate on what qualifies this season as traditional. He said he is not in favor of pushing the Playoffs back.

An effort to push the Playoffs back may be on the minds of some Big Ten and Pac-12 programs. There is no fairness in Ohio State and Oregon (or other future conference champions) missing the CFB Playoff. There is also no fairness in some schools playing fewer games and making the Playoff field. No one can claim that any FBS team has a guaranteed win against ten opponents this fall. The ACC and Big 12 schools get some ‘breather’ games. Alabama football does not and neither do other SEC schools. It is highly unlikely Vanderbilt can beat Georgia or Arkansas can beat the Crimson Tide – but it is not impossible.

If the B1G and the PAC continue to dawdle and play only eight regular-season games, their schools get an unfair advantage. Mathematically, the chances of going undefeated are less with a ten-game schedule, compared to eight games.

Let’s say Oregon finishes a shortened Pac-12 season, 9-0. Let’s also say, Florida wins the SEC East with a 10-0 record, then loses to the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship to finish 10-1. The Selection Committee would likely pick the undefeated Pac 12 Champion over the Gators. Would that be fair to Florida, who had two more opportunities to lose?

In the above scenario and other similar end-of-season, team comparisons, raging debate will ensue. Schedule shortcuts will be a key point of contention. More than just pride and football reputation will be at risk. Making the Playoff pays big dollars to conferences and teams. In the 2020 season, with so many dollars lost or at risk, the financial consequences are significant. As we wrote several days ago, whatever the season scenario, the big dogs will eat.

There is another problem. It is the Rose Bowl. If the B1G and the PAC cannot compete for a CFB Playoff berth, their Champions will want to play in a Rose Bowl. Only the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2021 is a CFB Playoff Game. Can there be an alternative Rose Bowl before or after?