Alabama Snub Is Key To College Football Playoff Expansion

Nov 26, 2019, 1:24 PM | Updated: 3:38 pm
Nick Saban - Alabama Crimson Tide...
Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts before the game against the LSU Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – For years and years the SEC has been against expanding the College Football Playoff beyond the four teams. Why would they want to expand a system that has clearly benefited the conference?

The short answer is because the SEC is always in the field.

Alabama has appeared in all five playoffs to date and has also played for the title game in four straight years. In 2018, the championship game was an all-SEC showdown with Georgia taking on the Crimson Tide.

Just this year, only Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M and Gus Malzhan of Auburn were in favor of expanding the playoff. Plus, SEC commissioner Greg Sanky has said multiple times that he is against expanding and the four-team model is suitable.

“No. I think four works. We will be attentive to conversations. But fundamentally that’s my statement.” – SEC Commissioner Greg Sanky

However, the playoff this year may have a different look. The Crimson Tide are on the outside looking in and they are playing without star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa who is out for the year with a hip injury.

It should be noted that Alabama did not win its own division but that did not stop them from making the College Football Playoff back in 2017, yet the key difference is that the 2017 team did not lose its star quarterback late in the season.

Without Tagovailoa, and really just one game against a ranked Auburn team to prove they are good enough to be among the four best teams, it will be hard for a one-loss Alabama team using a backup quarterback to get in over either a one-loss Utah or Oklahoma league champion.

How Much Pull Does Nick Saban Have?

KSL Unrivaled discussed many times that Utah getting into the College Football Playoff as a non-blue blood program could produce a change to the system and expand it beyond the four teams.

This is where the power of Alabama head coach Nick Saban comes into play. The Crimson Tide head coach is considered one of the best coaches of all-time, so when he speaks people listen.

KSL Sport’s Scott Mitchell believes that a grumpy Saban not getting into playoff because the Utes do could be a catalyst for change.

“Utah is going to get in. This will be the first time that Alabama has not been in the playoffs,” Mitchell said. “Nick Saban is going to say, ‘this system is too restrictive. Utah may be a good team but my Alabama team is good too.’ Maybe this is a chance for six or eight teams to be in the playoff.”

KSL Sport’s Alex Kirry believes Alabama being left out will start up the politicking from Saban and the SEC honks who will champion Alabama in the playoff, especially if that team is Utah. Upon closer examination, the schedules between the Utes and Crimson Tide are fairly similar.

“Saban is going to start sounding like Barry Switzer from 1984. He is going to say, ‘they didn’t really play anybody.’ That is what you will start hearing from Nick Saban about Utah over the next couple of weeks,” Kirry said. “He will start slandering Utah and its schedule. By the way, they can’t slander anyone’s schedule they might beat Auburn this week but they will still have a garbage FBS Power 5 schedule, which is what they lined up.

“Everybody should be a Utah fan because Alabama complaining about it, makes people listen. Once the College Football Playoff committee starts to hear the most important coaches in the land complain about it, they are going to have to start making some switches.”

The SEC is the heavyweight in the room and once they start saying the playoff should add more teams look for the higher-ups in college football to start thinking about adjusting the system.

What Does Oregon’s Loss Mean For Utah?

This conversation about Utah, Alabama, and Oklahoma may not even exist had the Ducks taken care of business against Arizona State. Oregon fell 31-28.

Had the Ducks won, then the Pac-12 championship game would have been a matchup between a likely No. 5 and No. 6 and be treated as a play-in game to the College Football Playoff. For the Utes, this really hurts their chances of having an elite win on their schedule. Now, it will be a good but not amazing win if they top the Ducks who are hovering just outside the top 10.

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