The thinking among collegiate administrators has changed from, “We must protect our noble student-athletes!” Today it’s: “Let’s make these semi-pros earn their NIL millions!”
The non-SEC Power 5 conferences – call them the Much-Less-Powerful 4 – want a playoff because the Pac-12 and Big 12 are tired of being left out and the ACC and Big Ten can’t bear to watch yet another SEC-versus-SEC final. Here’s where the unintended consequences kick in. Check the top 11 teams in the rankings announced Tuesday. Guess which league would comprise 41.7% of the field.
Old SEC slogan: It Just Means More. New SEC slogan: We Just Get More.
The new rankings have Georgia No. 1; Tennessee No. 5 and in prime position to make the field of four; LSU No. 7 with a chance to become the first two-loss team to be invited; Alabama No. 9 but with no chance to move unless LSU blows its next two games, and Ole Miss No. 11 with a Saturday date against Bama. How many of those five would beat Oregon? Five? How many would beat Clemson? Four, maybe five? How many would beat Michigan or Ohio State? At least three?
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss – only worse because the other four big leagues will lose so many games they’ll wonder if more money is worth more humiliation. (They won’t wonder for long. They’ll cringe all the way to the bank.)
Know what nobody ever says after watching a CFP semifinal? “Gee, I’d love to see those teams play again.” Only three of the 16 semis have been decided by single digits: Ohio State upsetting Alabama in the first CFP; Georgia over Oklahoma in overtime in the fourth; Clemson surviving Ohio State in the sixth. The 16 semis have been decided by an average of 21.1 points.
Know how often an SEC team has lost a semifinal? Once, that coming on the first night of the CFP’s existence. The SEC is 9-0 since. Average spread of those games: 20.7 points. Counting the final, SEC reps are 14-5 in the playoff The losses: one against the Big Ten, two against the ACC (meaning Clemson), two against the SEC (meaning itself.)
Book it now. This final will match Georgia against Tennessee, unless it’s Georgia against LSU. The last time Ohio State played an SEC team in a CFP game, the halftime score was 35-17. The only time Michigan played an SEC team in a CFP game, the halftime score was 27-3. As much as we try to convince ourselves that this year is different, it never is.
Expansion? Sounds great! Right up until the moment when you realize the only thing that’ll expand is SEC dominance, which is oppressive as is. Your four semifinalists in a 12-team tournament? SEC, SEC, SEC, SEC. Haven’t you folks heard that enough?
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