Alabama football is No. 2 in CFP rankings, and a lot of people aren't happy about it | Hurt

Cecil Hurt

As everyone from Rece Davis, suave spokesman supreme of college football has said, it all comes out in the wash in the College Football Playoff picture for Alabama as a single specific team.

Win out and No. 2 Alabama – as it was rated in the committee's first 2021 rankings that were revealed Tuesday – is in the four-team playoff, simple as that. There’s nothing unfair about that, and nothing about the result against Texas A&M really would have changed that. The worry, if there is one, is that a run of the November table and an Alabama victory in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta after that would guarantee two SEC teams (again) – but that was inevitable as well. 

So if you really love Cincinnati, rail away. If you think Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame and enjoy cinnamon-laced chili atop spaghetti, howl at the Ohio River moon. No one, at least at the committee level, “hates” Cincinnati. It’s the system, the one that gives the playoff its contractual value, the one all the non-Power Five teams agreed to in the haggling tent as the price for a New Year’s Six bowl game and the accompanying fat check.

But all of that formula was carefully calibrated long ago, with strength of schedule and game control and so on, and Alabama at No. 2 wasn’t even particularly close.

Head coach Mel Tucker of the Michigan State Spartans is seen during the second half against the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium on Oct. 16, 2021 in Bloomington, Indiana.

 "There was a lot of consensus for Alabama to be No. 2,” CFP Selection Committee Selection Committee Chairman Gary Barta said Tuesday. Cincinnati has the charm of the shiny new toy, of course, and the power of that undefeated zero in its record (ask Wake Forest what that's worth) and might ultimately have a win over an 11-1 Notre Dame team in South Bend, if things ever come to head-to-head with the Fighting Irish. 

More Alabama football:Where does Alabama football stand in first College Football Playoff rankings?

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So the first CFP ranking has done what it always does, sparking some conversation and some speculation and not much else. So instead of explaining, yet again, how the wheel works, here are a couple of amazing facts.

Amazing Fact No. 1: Of the top four teams in the initial poll — Georgia, Alabama, Michigan State and Oregon — all four head coaches were on the 2015 Crimson Tide staff. That includes Saban, of course, as well as Kirby Smart, Mel Tucker and Mario Cristobal. 

Amazing Fact No. 2: The team that still has a winding, sinuous – but not entirely out of the realm of voodoo-tinged reality – is, strange as it sounds, Auburn. The Tigers won’t be favored in every game. Texas A&M could dissipate the creeping Jordan-Hare mist Saturday. But what if the AU close includes wins over the No. 12 Aggies, No. 17 Mississippi State, No. 2 Alabama and an improbable rematch win against No. 1 Georgia.

Now that would give any committee something to wrestle with.