Nick Saban has what he likes to call a 24-hour rule — celebrate (or anguish) over an outcome for a day, then move on to the next business at hand.
Apparently, that doesn’t apply for media when it comes to a committee decision. People may be wishing for a 24-day rule before some commentators come to terms with the fact that the College Football Playoff Committee made the correct decision to put Alabama in the field of four teams that will compete for the national championship. The BCS computer, presumably a Commodore 64 now in a landfill somewhere but still apolitical, would have come up with the same quarter of participants. So would the AP Poll, and the coaches’ poll and virtually every other metric that measures a broad range of data.
Still, the war of words raged on through much of Monday. Some of the most virulent comments were to be expected, coming from noted pot-stirrers either trying to cling to fast-fading relevance or others seeking a relevance they’ve never hard. Few descended to the level of the hard-shilling Fox broadcast crew that were even more embarrassing during the Big 10 Championship than the play of the two teams on the field. (That’s saying a lot.) When former Ohio State player Robert Smith opened that broadcast by dismissing Alabama’s chances out of hand (“they’re not even in the conversation”), the border was crossed from Opinion into Ignorance. Having crossed that border, the rest of the Fox crew never came back. Instead, they bought some property in Ignorance, built homes and established residence.
Some of the other arguments were simply verbal expressions of Alabama fatigue. Some made valid points about the subjectivity of the whole process, but these are the rules that have been chosen by the ruling powers of college football (and the ones that were warmly embraced by BCS-weary fans.) Ultimately, the forces of logic won in a rout.
A day will come when the system won’t work for Alabama. A different day will favor Ohio State. This is a disappointment for the Buckeyes, but no one is dissolving the program. (OSU will almost certainly take Alabama’s perennial No. 1 spot in the upcoming recruiting rankings, if that’s a consolation prize.) Auburn will make it one day, and Stanford and maybe even Michigan, although we’d never hear the end of it. That’s the nature of the sport. Lose a game and you need a little luck. If Wisconsin had completed a fourth-and-20 Hail Mary on its final offensive play, there would have been no debate at all this season, even though Alabama (and the entire upper tier of the SEC) is “better” than the Badgers.
This year, it’s time for the debate to end. Having violated the 24-hour rule, this column will go forth and sin no more, at least in that department. What we have ahead may actually be the first truly compelling semifinal round of playoff games ever. Most of the semifinals have been blowouts. The 2014 game between Alabama and Ohio State is probably the best of the bunch and while it was a compelling story for the Buckeyes and a major upset, it wasn’t a “classic” game. And the less said about what Clemson and Alabama have done to their semifinal opponents over the past two years, the better. Some of those matchups looked intriguing, too. Maybe this is the year that the performance equals the hype.
Even if it doesn’t, the right four teams are playing. End of debate.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.