Son of Montana Project

One last take from Stewart Mandel’s Kings/Barons Version 4.0 ($$):

One undeniable consequence of the now eight-year-old College Football Playoff is the consolidation of power among a small handful of programs. With only a few exceptions, a program’s national profile these days seems to go hand in hand with regular CFP contention.

Therefore, this year’s edition sees the Kings undergo their most significant contraction to date.

That echoes the third point I made in my email to him:

I really like the theme [i.e., exclusivity] for this edition of your list, but I don’t think your kings are exclusive enough. I’ve thought about this a little, and I think I’d propose a new version of your perception test: ask 100 college football fans to list the four teams most likely to make the CFP field in a generic season. I suspect after tallying the vote, your current list of 11 emperor/kings would shrink to about seven. In fact, after you post this year’s list, I think I’ll post an approval voting poll on the subject, just to see what turns up as a result.

(Before you ask, no, I hadn’t seen his column before I wrote that.)

Let’s skip helmets, coaches’ pictures and Song Girls, okay?  While we’re at it, let’s skip Mandel’s “only a few exceptions”, too.  If you’re a true national power, it’s ludicrous to suggest you’re not a program at least in the conversation for being a national playoff contender.

So, Peyton and I have devised another poll.  The link is here.  The topic is simple:  in a random, generic season, name the teams you would currently expect to make the CFP semi-finals.  The ballot contains the top fifty winning P5 teams this century, as Mandel doesn’t include G5 teams in his list and nobody’s casting a ballot for Vanderbilt.

It’s pure approval voting, so don’t feel that you’re obligated to pick four teams.  If you only feel confident with three choices, that’s fine.  If you’re feeling five, go for it.

We’re not under time constraints, so we’ll leave the voting open until midnight Thursday and post the results on Friday.  Have at it!


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football, GTP Stuff

53 responses to “Son of Montana Project

  1. silvercreekdawg

    I could only come up with 4- Bama, UGA, Clemson and Ohio State.

    I thought long and hard about Oklahoma and Notre Dame, but couldn’t pull the trigger because of turnover at HC. Yes, I know it’s based on a random, generic season, but that stability matters to me. A year ago, I likely include them.

    Liked by 3 people

    • SCD, I had your 4 plus Oklahoma for now. I thought about leaving them off due to their entry to the SEC when it’s going to get difficult for them. I kept them on the list because they are still probably the most talented team in the Big 12.

      Sorry, Colin Cowpatty, but the best practice of all time didn’t convince me to vote for USC, and Notre Dame has to finish unbeaten in today’s world to make it.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Dawgfan1995

      See, I went the other way on this and dropped Clemson for Oklahoma. Not sure why, and now I’m rethinking it. Frankly, I should have just listed the three teams of Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State since they are the only ones recruiting consistently at the high levels necessary for the playoffs.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Geezus

        This is actually what I did. Three teams only: UGA, Alabama, Ohio St.

        I believe Clemson and Oklahoma are on the decline because of coaching churn and Lincoln will take some time at USC.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Biggen

          I was going to put in Clemson but changed it for Oklahoma. Clemson seems to be on the decline in my eyes.

          Liked by 1 person

        • owensborodawg

          Same 3. Same reasons.


        • ASEF

          Same. I think Oklahoma hit Clemson below the water line when they got Venables plus some other key assistants. Dabo’s offense was an absolute mess last season. Yeah, it recovered somewhat down stretch, but even that “improvement” underperformed the recruited talent.

          And I can’t put Oklahoma into the mix until I see how Venables handles being a head coach.


          • I kept Oklahoma in purely on talent alone. Venables likely has the best roster in the Big 12 and knows the league from his prior experience. Win the league with 0 or 1 loss, and the Sooners are in.

            Clemson has the easiest path year in and year out in the Almost Competitive Conference. Once again, if they win the ACC with 1 loss, the Tiggers are likely in unless ND is undefeated (they play in South Bend).

            Liked by 2 people

      • Biggen

        Same for me.

        Liked by 1 person

    • whb209

      Same 4 as silvercreekdawg


  2. Casey Chestnut

    A “random, generic season” being the upcoming 2022 season with no big surprises, or a “random, generic season” from the past 8-10 years? Because that’s a different list for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “…in a random, generic season, name the teams you would currently expect to make the CFP semi-finals.”

      No need to overthink this. Right now, which teams do you think would make the semis in a typical season?


  3. Song girls matter to college football.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I added a lot of the SEC West, Big 12, Big ten and PAC 12 teams since any could make it to the CFP by winning their conference. 18 teams total that did NOT include Auburn or anyone else but us from the SEC East…but with a broader and historical perspective, I’d probably have to include FL and Auburn as anyone with a path to the SECCG has a shot. So, a list of 20 is about right. IMHO.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. pansythedawg

    I went off pure instinct: Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, LSU, and Clemson – in that order.


  5. I think my perception of Kings is different than ONLY who would be most likely to make the playoff right now. In addition to the current results, my thought process is – let’s say Urban Meyer (or whatever top name you wanna use) comes back and takes over a program. Of the programs who are struggling, which ones would you not in the least bit be surprised if he had them in the playoffs by the 2nd year? Or for that matter, what schools do you think Meyer would actually consider taking over?

    If he took over South Carolina, Purdue, Arkansas, etc, we know he’s not gonna get them in the playoffs in a hurry, if ever (plus, he wouldn’t go to one of those schools in the first place). But if he took over a Texas, USC, etc….you’d almost be surprised if he DIDN’T have them in the playoffs by the 2nd year. That perception is what makes me agree with schools like Texas and USC still being included. Current results matter, but if your current results suck, do you have the tradition, recruiting base, resources, etc to allow for a super quick turnaround? There’s only a handful of those schools out there where you would confidently wager money that they would be turned around that quickly. But if you are one of those schools, I think their inclusion as a King is justified.

    Obviously this is all a matter of opinion, but it’s a fun exercise. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    • dawgphan34

      Agreed. USC is a King of college football. Texas is a King.

      We know that there are 16 teams or so in the Blue Chip Ratio that have recruited well enough to be a playoff team. That seems like too many Kings.

      A typical playoff includes power 5 champions and maybe Notre Dame, picking Bama and UGA to make the playoffs doesn’t seem typical.


    • We’ll see about Corch. I’m not convinced he’ll be successful in a 3rd college run.


  6. Rameses II

    It’s Clemson, Ohio State, Notre Dame and either Bama or UGA. The first 2 because of their relative superiority over their respective conferences, ND because of their national profile and relatively easy schedule, and the winner of the SECCG for the last spot. I picked UGA, but it’s a coin flip. Something weird like last year could happen and none of the first 3 make it, but in any given year, that’s the top 4/5.


  7. fisheriesdawg

    I went with 6, but it’s honestly just a gut feeling kinda thing and I’m not sure it’s completely consistent.

    Georgia-also duh.
    Ohio State-playing in their own sandbox and recruiting at a high enough level that it’s a surprise if they don’t make it
    Texas A&M-yet to prove they can get there, but recruiting at such a high level now that it’s just a matter of time, and they’ve already shown they can slay the giant in their own division
    Oklahoma-they keep finding themselves in the playoff and I’m not sure the coaching change is going to cause too much drop-off, at least until they move to the SEC…then it’s time to revisit this one.
    USC-this one is way out on a limb, but all the ingredients are there and Riley obviously knows how to make it to the playoff. I’d kind of be surprised to see this experiment fail.

    If I’m limiting it to one, it’s Ohio State because of competition. They’re the most likely to make it in any given year. They’re the only team I’d feel confident betting on making it going into any generic season. I could limit it to them and Georgia/Alabama easily as well. I could also see adding LSU and Clemson; both have proven they have what it takes as a program. I’m just not sure LSU has the consistency to make this ballot, and I think Clemson is on the backside of their dynasty. I think of them as an equivalent to early 2000s Tennessee. Both built their titles off of Atlanta kids at the expense of Georgia, and when the spigot starts drying up it’s tough to stay at the highest level.

    After that, I think you’re looking at a huge pool of Texas, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Washington, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Florida State, Miami, and Florida-type schools that could easily catch lightning in a bottle and win it all with the right mix of veterans but you’d never put money on them in a generic season to make the playoff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • fisheriesdawg

      Oh, in going through conferences, I forgot to mention Notre Dame. I think they might go with LSU and Clemson, or the coaching change might send them down with the pool of others. We’ll know a lot more by October or so.


  8. Hobnail_Boot


    Would have considered LSU, Oklahoma, ND, Oregon, and USC but coaching turnover. Would have considered Texas, aTm, and Miami but talent squander.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Corch Irvin Meyers, Former Jags Corch (2021)

    Bama Roll Tears, Georgia Bulldogs, Tosu Suckeyes, and the Oregon Ducks.

    I forgot about how on his original list he thought people knew about or cared about the USC “Song Girls.” I thought they were just called cheerleaders. 🤷🏻‍♂️

    The douche has such a huge Big-We Can’t Count bias, including the things in their orbit which includes their little brother the Pac-12, that he can’t see anything else.


  10. Derek

    The answer to the question as stated is as follows:

    Notre Dame

    Any additions or subtractions are due to user error.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. godawgs1701

    Man, congratulations to Pat Fitzgerald for somehow getting Northwestern onto this ballot. Kudos also to whoever coaches Oregon State these days – Arizona and Vanderbilt couldn’t get on the list, so it’s not just because they’re in a big conference. If Northwestern is in the playoff in the next decade, four team, eight team, or 12, I’ll eat my hat.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I guess I thought about this a little differently than the rest in that I was thinking going forward in the future which teams would I think have the best chances of making the CFP. This caused me to drop Oklahoma because they will be entering the SEC and also lost Lincoln Riley. Riley going to USC made me add them to my list since I think he will have them winning the PAC 12 soon and that brand will be strong enough to get them in the CFP. I still think Clemson is a factor because of the conference they play in and ND’s brand is so strong if they go undefeated or just have a competitive loss to a big brand they can still make it in.

    My list was:
    Notre Dame
    Ohio State


  13. ZeroPOINTzero

    I went with 7 including teams I think are on a downward spiral (Clemson, possibly Oklahoma) and a couple that could make it with new coaching (LSU, USC). USC more from a combo of easy path and new coaching. I included ND because they’ve shown how easy it is to back door their way to #4 for the king of kings. They’re a solid ACC team just like Clemson typically is/was.


  14. uga97

    U used to strive for 1 or 2 in the national rankings to get to the dance. Now if u just strive for 3 4 5 or 6, with some luck & breaks you can back into the dance. And now tgey want to allow 7,8, 9, 10n 11, 12 in the party. That’s today’s program mindset…heading backwards & requesting entitlements.


  15. charlottedawg

    Since the question was who would I expect to make it to the CFP I just went with the 6 teams with multiple appearances: bama, Clemson, us, notre dame, Oklahoma, Ohio state.

    In that groups I’d tier up Bama, Ohio state and Clemson and us since they have all actually won playoff games then Oklahoma then notre dame because they’ve made it multiple times, haven’t won a game.

    Backwards looking not forward projecting but I think fairly assess state of programs today


  16. Russ

    Georgia, Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State

    That’s it.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. One of the posters known as Mark

    Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State. Others didn’t make the cut for me because coaching changes, lesser recruiting, blah blah blah.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. ALaBama, UGA, Clemson and Ohio State


  19. originaluglydawg

    I picked UGA, U of Gumps and anOSU.
    I was surprised that after I made my picks, I was offered the opportunity to vote again. I guess you can vote as many times as you want to (but I held it to one).


  20. scottg818

    I probably had a lot more schools than others did, because I just went with the Power 5 teams who in a “typical” season have a chance to win their conference. That means there are a lot of teams (Michigan State, Pitt) who could win their conference and then make the 4 team playoff due to weird stuff and attrition around them. So there are definitely teams on my list who could make the playoff and then get demolished in the semis.

    If the list is who do I think is likely to WIN the playoff, there would probably only be 3-4 teams. Dawgs/Bama//Ohio St/Clemson (though Clemson will likely drop from that list in coming years).


  21. mdcgtp

    I think most of us are guilty (myself included) is reading too much into Stew’s initial definition and even his updates. His basic definition is about awareness/TV audience.

    The challenge is, if you understand CFB history well, as I know most everyone who reads this blog does, that each and every “top tier/brand name” program has a different history as to how they gained relevance. To Bama’s credit, they hired the two best coaches in the history of the game. In our case, we ALWAYS knew what are capable of achieving, but until Kirby, we never had the right coach.
    People joke about Florida pre-1990, but FSU was a clown college prior to Bowden. Miami was nothing prior to the 1983 title. In some senses, they were the equivalent of G5 schools who won their way to the top. Penn State was a much slower version of such because they played such a crappy NE schedule in the early Paterno years. On the other end of the spectrum is Michigan, who has always had a bigger brand than trophy case. In his podcast following the column, Stew basically said due to its money/TV audience that Michigan would always be a king (unless they did a Nebraska!). Programs like USC, OSU, OU, etc. each have their own history.

    Ultimately, the question is what is really being debated is the definition of King? If the question is one of current “sustainable” on-field ability to compete to win it all consistently, the field is basically UGA, Bama, Clemson, and Ohio St. (sorry LSU fans). Notwithstanding the major personnel losses coming (Bresee, Murphy, etc.), I would argue that if Clemson doesn’t make the CFP in 2022, the pace of Clemson’s fall from this group will accelerate significantly.

    If the question is one of “if you hired the right coach with proper organizational alignment” which programs could theoretically win a title? that field is more board and would incorporate many of the lower Kings/upper Barrons. For example, however improbable it is likely to reoccur, we KNOW that Auburn, UT, UF, FSU, and Miami can win titles, but we also know that there is almost no circumstance that Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State or Nebraska could win a title in the current construct.


  22. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    Without saying who I actually voted for, I don’t think the goal is to predict the CFP for this next year. Who in their right mind would have predicted Cincinnati last year? And if you only pick 3 (I know, Bluto said that would be fine) are you saying you have no clue about a fourth? I expect we all agree that Bama, UGA and OSU have competent shots, but there is going to be a fourth team, and I think that there are probably 4-6 teams that are good enough to be in contention for that fourth spot.

    Thinking about it really points out that a playoff expansion is stupid and pointless, except for, you know, the $$$$$.


  23. Unrelated to this thread, but there is a bug with the Athletic’s site. If you don’t want to pay for access, you can hit select all and then copy and paste the content of the article into a Word document. An easy way for those of you who wanted to see the list but aren’t going to pay for access.


  24. Directly related to this thread, I see Bama, Georgia, Clemson and Ohio State. Those are the four that have reliably been in the conversation to win a championship, not just make the playoffs. Oklahoma falls into the next tier. If they aren’t in the Big12, they wouldn’t be in the Playoff consistently and they’ve never been a threat to win a title.

    Sidenote, but I also take issue with Stewie’s list – USC a king? Huh? They haven’t even consistently won the Pac12. You win one PAC12 championship in the last 12 years and you’re a King on par with a Georgia? Same with the Knights – Georgia Tech!? That is a peasant if there’s everyone been one. They are as proletariat as it gets, fighting over Waffle House flavored bread and circuses.


  25. charlottedawg

    Also unpopular opinion but I would not have included Georgia in the top tier prior to last season as we’d only been to the playoffs once, although we did win a playoff game in our, at the time, lone appearance.


  26. Hogbody Spradlin

    I said Bama, Georgia, OSU, Notre Dame. Three obvious. ND because ND. Forgot Climps’n.


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