For the first time in several college football seasons, Championship Weekend is here and Alabama doesn’t have a dog in the hunt.
That doesn’t mean the Crimson Tide can’t be the cat in the tree, keeping an eye on the proceedings from various different perspectives. The way an Alabama fan watches may depend slightly on their point of view and especially their location — one who lives in Atlanta might very well have a different perspective on the SEC Championship Game than one who lives in New Orleans. So, allowing for individual differences, here is a quick viewer’s guide while the Crimson Tide sits idly by.
First, there is that championship game in Atlanta on Saturday. A rooting interest in Georgia vs. LSU, if you have one, might come down to where you stand in your devotion to the league logo and the “SEC” chanting and all the other trappings that just mean more — unless they don’t. LSU is an annual rival for Alabama and Georgia is an occasional one, although the Bulldogs do come to Tuscaloosa for a marquee September game in 2020. Affection for LSU around here runs thinner than a poor gumbo, given the fierce nature of the Alabama-LSU games of recent years.
The question, however, is whether Alabama wants to see one league recruiting rival make the College Football Playoff, or two. If your chest swells with pride when the SEC has two participants — or if you just want to see two SEC teams again because it annoys fans in the four other Power Five conferences so greatly — you’d prefer to see a Georgia win, which would put the Bulldogs in without knocking LSU out. On the other hand, if you think Georgia is just fine sitting on the outside — and that’s not irrational, from a strictly recruiting standpoint — you pull for LSU.
The outcome of that game could have some bearing on Alabama’s eventual bowl decision, if Georgia wins, but it seems unlikely at this point that UA will be propelled into the New Year’s Six stratum without some other unlikely outcomes as well. Nothing is official until the SEC says it is official when it comes to bowl pairings, but Alabama appears headed for a warm-weather destination like Tampa or Orlando and a probable Big Ten opponent, somewhat similar to the 2010 scenario.
There are some other items of interest, of course. There are former Alabama players in action, notably Jalen Hurts at Oklahoma. The Sooners, if they beat Baylor, could find themselves in a Selection Committee showdown with Utah but there is a chance, at least, that Hurts could finish his career at 4-for-4 in playoff appearances. At Oregon, Alabama transfer Dallas Warmack will be a part of the Ducks offensive line that will try to squelch Utah’s dream.
Four of the 20 participating coaches on Saturday had a spot on Nick Saban’s Alabama coaching tree: Mario Cristobal at Oregon, Billy Napier at Louisiana, Kirby Smart at Georgia and Lane Kiffin at Florida Atlantic (at least for now.) The Owls host UAB in the C-USA title game in Boca Raton, so a hat tip and a nice trip for the Blazers, who keep the state’s streak of championship game appearances alive for another year.
Nothing irks Alabama fans more than living vicariously through other teams. Few will waste much energy pulling against prohibitive favorites Ohio State and Clemson. Some may mow the lawn on Saturday instead of watching, even though it is December, and dream of 2020 instead.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt