The Alabama-LSU national championship game in 2012 was a major catalyst in the creation of a College Football Playoff. A rematch pitting conference foes against each other was unappealing both on a gut and ratings level. Six years later we are now back in a similar position with the Crimson Tide poised to battle Georgia for the whole enchilada.
This situation leaves a large faction nonplussed. On an emotional plane, I understand the disappointment. The SEC, great as it is, carries the baggage of annoying, chest-thumping fans always willing to claim superiority.
But on a logical level, the complaints feel hollow. The goal of the playoff was to make college football more of a meritocracy and give more teams control of their destiny. Alabama and Georgia have earned the right to play for the crown. The honor was not bestowed upon them from on high.
The Tide were, of course, awarded the fourth and final spot over Ohio State. Both of these teams were equally impressive in their bowl games. Alabama’s came against a higher quality opponent.
An all-SEC final was always a possibility, and a likely one considering both victors were favored yesterday. So to is an all-Big Ten, all-Big 12, all-ACC, or all-Pac 12 finale. At a certain point, the final deciders become the teams on the field and outside desire is rendered meaningless.
An Alabama-Georgia matchup is also not a signal that the playoff field should be expanded. A six- or eight-team playoff, depending on year and seeding, could end in the same conference-on-conference crime.
Alabama and Georiga were given the agency and capitalized. They jumped through the required hoops to get where they are now. This is what the playoff aimed to do: pit the two most deserving teams against each other.
It’s amusing to see those who wanted a four-team playoff and those who want more bemoan the ultimate product. A tree can be planted but it occasionally bears to require the desired fruit. It’s odd that the same type of discontent isn’t as voracious in professional leagues, where the lusted-after final is not always the one that materializes.
Next Monday will be an SEC-only affair in the heart of SEC country. It is what it is. Blame the universe for positioning the two teams able to get to this point in such near proximity.