Alabama Football: ‘Sporting News’ on track choosing 16 Playoff contenders

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

No Alabama Football fan believes it is ever too early to start talking College Football Playoff teams. Bill Bender writing for Sporting News agrees.

On Tuesday, Bender published his list of CFB Playoff contenders and created five tiers for grouping them. Current is a key word in the tier listings. As Bender noted, much will change as teams move in and out of his tiers. Credit the Sporting News for being bold. Technically they have not excluded any program from future consideration. But, they are basically telling the fanbases of 114 teams that those teams have little chance to reach the final four in 2021.

What Bender defines is the reality of FBS college football. Every season there are very few teams with the player talent, coaching and infrastructure to compete for a National Championship. Actually, Bender’s number of 16 teams is generous. The number is arguably closer to 12 and perhaps as few as 10.

Alabama Football fans will love Tier One

Alabama Football fans will love Bill Bender’s Tier One. It has only one team; the Alabama Crimson Tide. Tier Two has three teams, Georgia, Oregon and Oklahoma. Bender calls his Tier Three “Win out, and you’re probably in.” He lists only two Tier Three teams, Ohio State and Clemson.

Tier Four is defined as “teams in contention.” In week three of the season, Bender could have picked a larger group than the six he chose. The teams he chose were Iowa, Cincinnati, Texas A&M, Florida, Penn State and Notre Dame.

Bender defines his Tier Five teams, as being on the “fringe.” They are UCLA, Arizona State, Michigan and Auburn.

Bender’s 16 team list and his five tiers can and probably will be debated by legions of college football fans. Some will argue the creation of such a list proves how unfairly segmented college football is in the current Playoff era. Only one Group of Five team (Cincinnati) is included.

Fans of Iowa State, Virginia Tech, Ole Miss and Coastal Carolina will no doubt question the exclusion of their teams. All four are currently ranked in the Top 16 of either the AP or Coaches polls or in both.

By the time the first real CFB Playoff Rankings are released on Nov. 2, arguing about 16 teams will be moot. At that point, Playoff history shows the eventual four slots will go to teams inside the Top 10. Evaluating weekly rankings history going back to 2014, no team outside the mid-November Top 10 has ever made a Playoff field. The only teams ranked outside the Top Six in the last four weeks of rankings have been Oklahoma (No. 9 in 2019), Michigan State ( No. 9 in 2015), Oklahoma (No. 7 in 2015), Georgia (No. 7 in 2017) and Oklahoma (No. 9 in 2019).

Next. Week 2 College Football Power Rankings. dark

If history is repeated in 2021, only 10 teams will be in Playoff contention on Nov. 16, after the third of six, 2021 rankings.