Alabama Crimson Tide: One more time into the Playoff breach

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

No team needs an expanded College Football Playoff less than the Alabama Crimson Tide. The expanded Playoff is coming and has the support of a large majority of football fans – including Alabama fans.

There is little to be gained for the Alabama Crimson Tide. There will be a boost of television dollars, the Tide and the other SEC schools will share. According to the Business of College Sports site, the SEC got $72M last year, plus another $8M for Florida making the Cotton Bowl and Georgia in the Peach Bowl. Another $4M plus was received in payments of $300,000 to each SEC team. In addition, the Alabama Crimson Tide (and Florida and Georgia) were reimbursed Playoff and bowl expenses totaling several more million.

That’s some pretty serious jack, but it will pale to the bonanza of dollars that will come with the expanded Playoff.  According to a report by USA Today, the projected value of media contracts for a 12-team Playoff would more than triple the current deals, and hit $2B dollars.

Despite all the talk about an expanded Playoff being necessary to achieve fairness, the money drives the train. That is why expanding the Playoff is a lock. The format is not a lock. At whatever number of teams, Alabama fans don’t want Power Five Conference Champions to get automatic bids.

As long as that risk of automatic bids is averted, the expanded Playoff will be great fun for fans. It will also make a blockbuster television series, that may include mismatches, but from time to time will likely include a big upset. Media sources will embellish those upsets for years. Many fans will like them as well. This past season, had the proposed expanded format been in place, Coastal Carolina would have made the field. Most fans would have loved for the Chanticleers to take down a college football whale.

For Alabama Crimson Tide fans, what is not to like?

So what is not to like? There will be an increased risk the two top teams will not play for the national title. An upset, a fluke game outcome, an injury to a key player in an early game – all these variables could knock one (or both) of college football’s best teams out of the National Championship game.

Looking carefully at the history of the CFB Playoff, and to an extent the BCS, a solid claim can be made the formats led to the two top teams playing for the title. Some fans claim going back to 1998 (first BCS game) some Champions have been lucky. There is luck and lack of it every football season. A different point is with the exception of the split title in 2003, it is quite hard to make a strong, unbiased argument that the best team did not become the National Champion.

That is, even more, the case for the seven CFB Playoff National Champions. There is the wrinkle of the Crimson Tide winning it all as a No. 4 seed, but that does not change the history that every year, the two best teams have played for the title and the best team has won.

Just as the Selection Committee has twice made a mistake putting Notre Dame into the final four, there will be more seeding errors when the field goes to 12 teams. Why this matters is not because lesser teams may cause unpredictable upsets. The potential problem for the Crimson Tide is, even with a first-round bye, Alabama could face and beat a lower seed in its first game and lose one or more key players to injuries. Imagine if that happened last season. Suddenly without a healthy Jaylen Waddle and Landon Dickerson, the Tide also loses Mac Jones and DeVonta Smith in a pointless, 12-team format Playoff game.

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In the above scenario, would the Crimson Tide have still won the title? Maybe so, but maybe not. If not, then Alabama Crimson Tide fans would hate Playoff expansion.