College Football National Championship
Before everyone congratulates Alabama Crimson Tide, which team is really the 2017 college football national champion? The answer may not be as simple as many might think. There has been some animosity this season toward the College Football Playoff Selection Committee (CFPSC); Wisconsin, Central Florida, Ohio State and their advocates have a case for why they should have been selected as one of the four teams to go to the playoffs. Perhaps, if chosen, one of those teams would have won their playoff game and then the national championship. Although the committee is supposed to simply place the top four ranked teams into the playoffs, the process is still somewhat subjective because the CFPSC ranks the teams. How does Alabama’s resume stack up against the slighted teams? First, a look at Wisconsin, Central Florida and Ohio State.
Wisconsin is a Big 10 team that was only one of two teams to maintain a perfect season before losing to Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship. Accomplishing a perfect season in any Power 5 conference is a feat; however, Wisconsin’s particular division (Big 10 West) is weak with teams like Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern and Purdue. Wisconsin could not penetrate the top 4 until after the final game of regular season play. The CFPSC had little respect for Wisconsin’s strength of schedule; therefore, when their lone loss came against Ohio State, in their conference championship game, Wisconsin was out of the playoff picture. They went on to handily defeat Miami in the Orange Bowl. Perhaps they would have performed well in the playoffs, but their weak schedule and losing their conference championship was too much to overcome.
Central Florida is the only team to completely finish their season undefeated; they are 14-0, having won all of their regular season games, conference championship and defeated Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. Each of the four playoff teams (Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama) suffered a loss this season, and Alabama did not even make it to their conference championship. Central Florida’s pedigree is further enhanced in their Sugar Bowl win; Auburn is the third best SEC team that beat both Georgia and Alabama. Unfortunately for Central Florida, it is not a member of a Power 5 conference. If Wisconsin’s strength of schedule is bad, Central Florida’s is terrible. Before the season finale against Auburn, the only now-ranked opponent they faced was Memphis (ranked at 20). Central Florida’s administration and players declared themselves national champions: equipped with banners and a parade. Maybe congratulations are in order for them, but the playoff committee struggled to put their schedule against any team ranked in the top 15.
While many in the media were content with Wisconsin and Central Florida missing the playoffs, and most media pundits were satisfied with Clemson, Oklahoma and Georgia making it, they still believe that Ohio State was unjustly stiff-armed for Alabama. Ohio State plays on the strong East side of the Big 10. They defeated Wisconsin (At the time the only undefeated team in a Power 5 conference) in the Big 10 championship game. Ohio State played a grueling schedule facing several ranked opponents on the road and at home. After the conference championship game, the Buckeyes believed their resume was complete, but there was one glaring blemish that they could not overcome: a two-loss season, including a 31-point loss to an un-ranked Iowa team. Next time Ohio State desires to play for all of the marbles they should refrain from laying an egg to a team like Iowa. The playoff committee simply does not overlook these details.
Anyone sick of hearing, “Roll Tide”? It looks like the same song but a different verse because Alabama rolled over some Georgia Bulldogs during the national championship. Should they be recognized as this year’s national champion? The doubters will say that they lost a game, had an easy strength of schedule and did not play in the SEC championship; however, they play in arguably the toughest division in college football, their single loss came amidst many injuries, and they just defeated Georgia (The crowned SEC champs). Additionally, they beat Clemson, the number one team in college football, last week in the playoffs. They have proven all they need to prove. While many may be tired of seeing the same old same old, Alabama Crimson Tide is, again, national champions. They showed the nation that the College Football Playoff Selection Committee chose the correct fourth team for the playoffs. Ohio State fans can whine, and Central Florida fans can have a parade, but the rest of the country is saying, “Roll Tide”.