College Football Playoff: How Alabama Remains in the Top 4


While the BCS Era had plenty of drama and detractors during it’s time as the top ranking service in college football, many people still understood its rankings better than the ones produced by the College Football Playoff.

Rewind to two seasons ago.  And then look all the way back through 1992.  Find a season where a program with the prestige of an undefeated, defending National Champion Ohio State sat behind anyone this late in the season.  Find anything?

Sure maybe an instance or two.

Now rewind again.  Use the same criteria and find a place where a team that was not also undefeated ranked ahead of the program like Ohio State.  You simply won’t find it.  That is what the College Football Playoff Committee has done this year.  We can’t say it is unexpected, however.  They did the exact same thing to Florida State, twice dropping them down the polls in 2014 behind teams that had already experienced a loss.

How exactly does that work?  How has Alabama risen to #2 in the polls despite Ohio State, Iowa, Oklahoma State and Houston all having unblemished records?  OK OK, forget Houston.  They would have never been ranked in the Top 4 this season under any poll.

But really, what is the criteria for ranking these teams?

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Quality wins?  Alabama has beaten a plethora of ranked teams.  Except most of those teams (Mississippi State, LSU, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Georgia) have continued to lose and plummet down the rankings.  That can’t be it.

Quality losses?  Alabama’s sole loss this season is to Ole Miss.  While Ole Miss is ranked 22 in the CFP Poll and has experienced an insane amount of injuries, they have also lost three games (Memphis, Florida and Arkansas).  While Florida with Will Grier was a playoff contender, the other losses are baffling.  Ole Miss also beat Alabama at home.  I don’t want to hear about 5 turnovers.  It was a home game.

A further detriment to the quality loss argument is that Notre Dame sits behind Alabama at #4 with a “better” loss, having lost to #1 Clemson by 2 AT Death Valley.

There simply isn’t a logical reason that Alabama should be ranked ahead of so many schools.  You can’t use logic or a computer logarithm to justify their ranking.

What the College Football Playoff Committee is telling us, above anything, is that history and the eye test matter more than anything else.

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  • Alabama gets a pass for losing by only 6 despite committing 5 turnovers.  They also get a pass because Nick Saban has won at least 10 games every year at Alabama since 2008.  Add in the fact that he has surpassed 10 wins in each of those seasons but one, and you have a program the committee feels it can trust with a lofty ranking.

    The Alabama Crimson Tide also get a bump for beating so many teams that were thought to be great at the time they played.  Sure those teams I mentioned earlier have all experienced at least one additional loss this season.  But Crimson Tide supporters credit Alabama for “beating them up” as the reason they have lost more.

    I’m not saying I don’t think Alabama deserves a spot in the College Football Playoff Top 4.  I firmly believe they do.  What I am saying, however, is the College Football Playoff Committee is just like the rest of us.  They don’t use any type of metrics to determine the rankings.  They use the “eye test” and their naturally pre-formulated opinions of programs to throw rankings at us and see what sticks.

    They can talk about quality wins, strength of schedule, accomplishments thus far and whatever else they can come up with.

    I’ll still be calling them on the B.S.

    Next: SEC Football: Best and Worst Performances from Week 11

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