Alabama Football: History shows Tide to be 12-team Playoff lock

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Alabama Football fans are pleased with the sudden direction the College Football Playoffs appear to be taking. Though not yet a done deal, the momentum of a 12-team Playoff field is strong and growing.

There are a few Alabama Crimson Tide fans who would be happier with no change in the Playoffs. No matter how many of us are content with the status quo, the format will be expanded. For anyone wanting to review why expanding the Playoffs is a bad idea, read this well-presented argument. As we discussed a few weeks ago, even returning to a two-team format can be soundly argued, as Tom Fornelli did.

The Playoff problem needing to be resolved is not that it has not been successful. Just the opposite, the huge success of the Playoffs has driven a frenzy from the excluded programs. They will get their wish with an expanded field. How well it will or will not work for most teams cannot be predicted. There are two conditions of which college football fans can be sure. The first is the eventual, expanded format will have some unintended consequences. The second condition will thrill Alabama Crimson Tide fans, while further agitating other college football fans. The reason why is Alabama Football will do very well in the new format.

The soundness and boldness of the 12-team format. light. Related Story

How can Crimson Tide fans be sure? Just take some history and apply it to a future 12-team field.

Alabama Football and 12-Team Playoff Probabilities

Three sets of numbers are reviewed below. They include 63 seasons of Alabama Football going back to Paul Bryant’s first in 1958 and going through 2020; 46 seasons combining Bryant, Gene Stallings and Nick Saban’s total seasons. The third tracks just the Nick Saban years of Alabama Football.

The final details of the new Playoff plan may get massaged, but at this point, the easiest summary is to expect the Top 12 teams in the Playoff rankings will be the field. Making a ranking comparison requires using the AP Poll as the ranking source prior to the Playoff era.

Note: The AP Poll and the CFB Playoff rankings are usually quite similar, but there are small deviations. This review takes that gray area of matching and differing rankings and uses the top 13 teams in the AP Poll each year as being Playoff-probable.

The Results (based on AP and CFB Playoff rankings)

  • From 1958 through 2020, Alabama Football would have made a 12-team Playoff field 66.7 percent of the time.
  • Using the 46 Crimson Tide seasons led by Bryant, Stallings and Saban, Alabama Football would have made a 12-team field 80.4 percent of the time.
  • Using the 14 Nick Saban seasons, Alabama Football would have made a 12-team Playoff 92.9 percent of the time.

The AP Poll ranking source used is the always dependable site –

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Based on the probability tracked above, Tide fans can love the new (proposed) Playoff format. Maybe after Saban, the Tide’s Playoff chances may dip – but that time is far in the future.