Ten years ago, the SEC had a 4-hour recruiting commercial during the biggest game of the college football season.
That game led to a revolutionary change in the way the sport structured its postseason.
The obvious question: What happens now, a decade later, after the same thing happens for the second time in 5 years when Alabama and Georgia play for the national championship next Monday night in Indianapolis?
“Watch how fast they cave,” one industry source, intimately involved in the current negotiations for a potential College Football Playoff expansion, told me this weekend.
But this isn’t a story about those blocking potential Playoff expansion. The 12-team format is inevitable.
This is a story about the very existence of teams and conferences, and the health of college football. A story about chasing and catching.
Or more to the point: chasing and catching Alabama and Georgia.
“Those (semifinal) games showed everyone what we’re dealing with every single year,” one SEC coach told me. “(Alabama and Georgia) have a clear and distinct advantage right now. The only way they fail is from within. And it doesn’t look like that’s happening any time soon.”
That, everyone, is a football problem. That’s 128 teams vs. 2, and 2 have the advantage.
Michigan had its best team in nearly three decades, a group with the motivation and team chemistry coaches dream about. They were physical and athletic, and had just disposed of bitter rival Ohio State for the first time in 9 years. They were coming off a 39-point win in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Eight minutes into the Orange Bowl CFP semifinal against Georgia, the Wolverines were down 14-0. With 3 minutes to play in the first half, they were down 27-3 and the game was over.
Michigan averaged 223.8 yards rushing per game this season, and had more rushing touchdowns (39) than any non-service academy FBS team. It had 27 carries for 91 measly yards against Georgia.
Michigan’s star defensive ends – Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo – had 25 combined sacks, and didn’t get one against Georgia. Ojabo didn’t even register a tackle.
Cincinnati had the best non-Power 5 team in years, maybe the most talented ever. It had the confidence from the 2020 season, when it played Georgia deep into the fourth quarter of the Peach Bowl.
Alabama was without its No. 1A receiver and two starting cornerbacks, and lost its best run-blocking guard in the first quarter. Cincinnati, which averaged 40 points a game and was a legitimate threat to beat any team not named Alabama and Georgia (just like Michigan), scored 6 points.
The Bearcats had 218 total yards, and converted 2-of-15 3rd- and 4th-down opportunities.
“Welcome to our world,” an SEC coach texted me in the middle of the Cotton Bowl.
I want to be very clear about something: This isn’t a Big Ten problem, or a Pac-12 problem, or an ACC or Big 12 or Group of 5 problem.
This is a college football problem.
Florida in 2020 had its best team since the Tim Tebow years, a collection of offensive talent so good it could overwhelm anyone on the other sideline. The Gators got by one goliath (Georgia) but couldn’t get by the other.
A year later, coach Dan Mullen was fired – in part, because his team wasn’t built to sustain and battle the beasts that are Alabama and Georgia.
LSU had a once-in-a-program team in 2019, a season where there was so much talent on the field, no coach could possibly screw it up. Two years later, the coach who didn’t screw it up (Ed Orgeron) was fired because he did in the following 2 years — when the team wasn’t built to sustain and battle the beasts.
Ohio State took a step back this season, so did Notre Dame. Oklahoma looked normal, benched a Heisman Trophy candidate and then lost its coach.
Clemson didn’t participate in the Playoff for the first time since 2014 and lost both of its coordinators after the season.
All around the college football landscape, there is change. Deep, undeniable change.
Except, that is, at Alabama and Georgia. One of them will win a national championship next Monday night.
The other will reload, get back to the Playoff and take another shot at it.
More than likely, against a very familiar face on the other sideline.
2. The next step
So how is this fixed? Two ways, and one relies on the other.
Step 1: Expand the Playoff to 12 teams, as soon as possible. More teams participating in the Playoff means more chances for those teams to sell that participation to elite recruits.
Step 2: Recruit your butt off.
Look, there’s a reason elite 5-star recruits gravitate toward Alabama and Georgia. They want to play where they can win championships, and where they can be developed to play in the NFL.
We can complain or bemoan the lack of loyalty or connection – or whatever you want to call it – with young players these days. It doesn’t matter.
Source : https://www.saturdaydownsouth.com/sec-football/first-and-10-theres-only-1-way-to-stop-alabama-and-georgia-and-it-cant-happen-fast-enough-to-save-college-football/894