Alabama Football: Playing a game on Dec. 12 makes no sense

(Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /

Alabama Football: Neither the Crimson Tide nor the Florida Gators should have to play a game on Dec. 12.

It became official on Friday, Alabama football will travel to Fayetteville and face Arkansas on Dec. 12. The Southeastern Conference announced a full slate of games on Dec. 12 and Dec. 19.

Other conferences have not been as insistent that teams play as many games as possible. In the Big Ten, Ohio State will be lucky to get to eight games and that would include the B1G Championship. At best, Wisconsin will play five regular-season games. In the Pac-12, Washington will have to get to the Conference Championship game to play six games.

Then there is the ACC who appear strongly motivated to help Notre Dame and Clemson both make the College Football Playoff. With the cancellation of a Dec. 12 game between the Fighting Irish and Wake Forest, Notre Dame and Clemson will finish a regular season of nine games. Another benefit to the pair of ACC teams is both having an open date the Saturday before the ACC Championship.

SEC Commissioner, Greg Sankey took exception.

"We committed to playing a 10-game schedule, which is certainly unique to see some other decisions this week."

Speaking specifically about the ACC schedule change, Sankey said,

"It begs one question: If their two most highly ranked teams were, for instance, (ranked) five and six in the CFP Rankings, would this decision have been made?"

Sankey makes a valid point, though he riled some folks associated with the ACC. Sankey is suggesting teams with fewer data points (games) should not be viewed by the Selection Committee as teams with more games. Sankey reminded others the Committee has said “every data point is important.”

Assuming the number of games played might become a deciding data point for the final Selection Committee decision, conferences whose Champions play fewer than eight games might be excluded from the final four. Based on that reasoning, neither Notre Dame nor Clemson needs to play an eleventh game.

The same is true for the Alabama football path to the Playoff. The Crimson Tide does not need a Dec. 12 date with Arkansas. The only strong argument for the Crimson Tide playing that game is Florida has to play on that date. The Crimson Tide having a bye week, while its Championship opponent plays, would be unfair to the Gators.

Greg Sankey will not do it, but the best solution for the Crimson Tide and the Gators is for neither team to play on that date. Florida must win the SEC Championship to make the Playoff. Beating LSU is of no value to them. The Crimson Tide could make the Playoffs with a loss to Florida, and in that scenario, a win over Arkansas will not matter.

Why then, in a COVID-impacted world, would the SEC not allow the Tide and the Gators to ‘bubble’ themselves on Dec. 6, until the Championship game? Added value would be reduced injury risk from one less game. Greg Sankey may well own the higher ground for the SEC taking every possible step to play a full 10-game, regular season. That distinction will not matter if a key Florida Gator or Alabama football player, gets infected or has a major injury during a game on Dec. 12.

Top 5 Games in LSU Rivalry. dark. Next

With an always tough task, it is harder for the Selection Committee this season. With chatter about ‘data points,’ it is worthwhile to remember their job is to select the four best teams. Even a one-loss Alabama Crimson Tide will be one of the best four.