Roll Tide! Why Alabama Won the Inaugural College Football Playoff

It was a hard fought night in Fort Worth, but at the end of the evening it was clear who college football’s top dog was–and it was a familiar dog indeed. For the 3rd time in 4 seasons, the Alabama Crimson Tide reign over the FBS landscape.

“I was pretty nervous after we lost in the opening round of the playoff,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban, when I spoke to him over the phone “But I was glad that the voters and the committee saw fit to give us the title.”

Perhaps you’re confused. Perhaps you’re thinking you saw Alabama get eliminated back on New Year’s Day in a critical example of why college football’s playoff is such a marked improvement over the awful BCS. Allow me to demonstrate why you’re wrong.

I spoke with a member of the playoff committee and an AP voter on terms of anonymity, asking them to explain the somewhat controversial decision to crown Alabama: “It was critical to us to evaluate the teams’ overall record in determining the champion,” explained the committee member, “To that end, we looked at the losses carefully, and in the end Alabama’s losses were the least damaging.”

“Take Oregon, for instance,” the committee member continued. “They lost to Arizona in the regular season. Arizona, as you know, lost to Southern Cal. Southern Cal lost to Boston College, who lost to a Clemson team that was demolished by Georgia to open up the season. That very same Georgia team was defeated by South Carolina. South Carolina suffered losses to Texas A&M, Missouri, Tennessee, and Auburn–and all 4 of those teams lost to Alabama. Therefore, we considered Oregon’s one loss the same thing as losing to Alabama 4 times. Clearly they were an illegitimate contender.”

When asked about Ohio State, the AP voter giggled “Virginia Tech” and fell into convulsive laughter until he threw up on my shoes. I pressed for clarification on the Buckeyes. The committee member politely explained that Ohio State’s loss came to a Virginia Tech team that lost to Miami, who lost to South Carolina, thereby rendering their defeat to be the same as 4 Alabama losses as well.

When I politely pointed out that Ohio State had defeated Alabama on January 1st, the AP voter politely punched me in the throat and politely fled to the ESPN studio trailer parked nearby. The committee member followed suit. Politely.

In spite of the controversy, the city of Tuscaloosa is celebrating in style. Bubba “Bubs” Johnson, a lifelong Alabama fan since 2009, made the drive from Knoxville, Tennessee to celebrate. “Wooooo!” he shouted at me, his eyes flashing a combination of crystal meth and delusion excitement, “We won another ‘un!”

Even the leaders of the university joined in the revelry. “Roll Tide!” shouted university president Judy Bonner as she dumped a pile of UAB jerseys onto the communal bonfire that raged where the student union once stood. “I am so proud that we’ve done it again!”

Coach Saban was more conciliatory, “Ohio State was an excellent team,” he said without smiling. “Heck, some people would argue that they beat us in a structured playoff, rendering our title here meaningless. But I’m proud of the way my guys held firm this week, and I’m so excited to have another title. I cannot thank the committee or the sports media enough for their endless support of this team, and I look forward to our title defense in 2015-16.”

 

(PS to ESPN: I am available to write/say stuff like this for less than half of what your studio analysts probably cost. Give me a call!)

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