Well, gosh darn it, who among us could have seen this coming?
C’mon, man, what about pride? You gotta give the Gus Bus some kind of fuel to run on.
Actually this was coming a week ago, as everywhere you turned in the media — including Finebaum’s employer, by the way — you heard the Georgia-Auburn game described not as the next installment of the South’s Oldest Rivalry, but as Auburn’s next stepping stone in its march towards making the CFP. That narrative worked out well. Who needs regional rivalries when you’ve got a selection committee bringing the excitement?
The bigger picture isn’t any more attractive. Just ask Stewart Mandel.
I’ve long believed, and still do, that an eight-team playoff would severely harm the regular season. But four teams was such a relatively modest change I figured it would have only a minimal negative effect, if any. And the first two years bore that out. If anything, it made those regular seasons more compelling.
But the muted impact of last weekend’s upsets was definitely vindication for the old BCS proponents/playoff opponents. I’ve found myself thinking back this week to Nov. 17, 2012, when No. 1 Kansas State (against Baylor) and No. 2 Oregon (against Stanford) both lost on the same night, turning the BCS title race on its head. No. 3 Notre Dame went from possible championship game snub to lone remaining undefeated team. K-State and Oregon were essentially done.
Compare that level of upheaval to the much quieter aftermath of Nov. 12, 2016, when No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Washington all lost, and only the Huskies suffered even mild consequences.
But this is the trade-off we accepted by expanding the field to four. Were this the BCS, the No. 5 and 6 teams from last week, Ohio State and Louisville, would move up to Nos. 2 and 3, no questions asked. And if Alabama and Ohio State won out, they would meet in the BCS championship game, albeit with no shortage of hand wringing if the Buckeyes don’t win their division.
But also under that scenario, the only remaining games with national title implications would be the Iron Bowl, the SEC title game and Michigan-Ohio State. As it is, we’ll also be paying close attention to any games involving Clemson, Washington, Louisville, Wisconsin and Penn State, including likely all four conference title games.
If anything, the field widened, not narrowed last weekend.
And we all know there’s only one way to fix a widened field. Brackets, baby!
Make college football great again.
I, for one, welcome our new Cinderella stories overlords.