News broke this week that the College Football Playoff Committee intends on moving forward with this season’s playoff despite the Big Ten and Pac-12 electing to not participate in football this fall.
While that eliminates a serious contender in Ohio State, it also shoots down dark horse contenders in Penn State, Oregon and Wisconsin. Those teams were ranked Nos. 2, 7, 9 & 12 in the the AP Top 25 preseason poll which was released on Monday. Clemson claimed the top spot and Alabama was third.
Yes, that is very significant.
However, I would have to disagree with ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit who said this year’s national championship will come with an asterisk.
According to a report from 247 sports, Herbstreit joined ‘3HL’ on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville on Monday and was asked about the legitimacy of a national title in a highly unusual season. The College GameDay analyst pointed out that Ohio State, Penn State, and Oregon may very well have been in some preseason playoff predictions. Because of that, it will ultimately hurt the perception of whichever program does win it all.
“I’ve thought about that, and I think there will be an asterisk no matter what,” Herbstreit said. “I just heard you guys before I came on talking about the AP Top 25. I think Ohio State was No. 2. Penn State was up there. Oregon was up there. All up in the top 10. If we just threw them in, for argument’s sake, and we asked the entire nation of analysts, ‘Who is going to be in your playoff?’ The consensus is probably going to be an Alabama or Georgia type of team, an Ohio State, a Clemson, and then an argument about is there a second SEC team or Big Ten team? Does Oregon make it? Does Oklahoma make it? That would be the discussion, so you’re really eliminating Ohio State, Oregon, and Penn State from the potential playoff.”
While that all remains true, it doesn’t take away from this season. As Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said, “whoever wins it, wins it.”
Whoever gets to hoist the trophy in the air in Miami will have earned it. If it is Clemson, they would have made it through the ACC slate and likely ran the table into the playoffs once again where they could likely see an Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Florida or perhaps even Notre Dame, again. If it’s an SEC foe, they will have survived a tough conference-only docket and took care of business in the playoffs, likely taking down title favorite, Clemson, at some point en route to victory. If it is Notre Dame, the Irish will have likely defeated Dabo Swinney’s Tigers as many as two times (once in regular season, once in ACC title game). I could go on, but I think you get my point.
I understand where Herby is coming from but I don’t think it is fair to the other teams that actually are playing. Regardless, someone has to get out there and earn it. Nobody is going to lay down and give you the trophy this year. You have to earn it. You still play the hand you’re dealt and hopefully control your own destiny when it matters most.
Herbstreit went on to say, “A lot of people would feel, with Trevor Lawrence, no matter who’s in it has a pretty good chance of making it into the playoff and into a national championship,” he said. “A lot of people probably feel that Georgia, Florida, or Alabama have a really good chance to make it too. It’ll feel a little different, not having everyone in, but if you do make it through and we’ve got four teams standing there at the end, you’re still talking about some of the big boys … I think 10 or 15 years from now, there will still be somewhat of an asterisk. That’s how I feel, just because you don’t have the Big Ten or Pac-12 playing.”
Since the inception of the college football playoff, Ohio State is the only non-ACC/SEC program to win it all. The Buckeyes claimed the inaugural CFP title for 2014-15. Outside of that, it’s basically been a seesaw between Clemson and Alabama with LSU of course winning it last season in New Orleans.
As far as I’m concerned, the Pac-12 isn’t very relevant as a whole when it comes to the playoffs. Ohio State being sidelined is indeed tragic for the sport this season but they would have still had to earn it and prove their worth on the field. What if Fields went down with an ACL tear in week two? What if Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne opted out? You just never know what could happen and it’s simply not fair to discredit this year’s champion because one major contender didn’t get their fair shot.
Whoever wins is still a worthy champion and they should be recognized and celebrated as such.