Rest easy Tennessee football fans. You don’t have to worry about the Alabama Crimson Tide getting into the College Football Playoff over you. Despite taking away a chance for the Vols to complain, it’s still a relief on Rocky Top.
The Vols came in at No. 6 in the final CFP rankings while Alabama finished at No. 5. It’s still a travesty that they’re below Alabama, but with both teams missing out on the playoff, it’s not a big deal.
UT fell below Alabama after its 63-38 loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks. However, after South Carolina beat the Clemson Tigers the next week, the Vols loss to them ended up being better than any Alabama win.
Still, the committee had to stick to what it had already put up, meaning Alabama was No. 6 at the end of the regular season, and the Vols were No. 7. The Ohio State Buckeyes were No. 5.
That means if one of the top four lost, OSU would get in, and if two lost, Alabama would have a shot. Well, the USC Trojans and TCU Horned Frogs both lost their conference championship game, opening the door for Alabama.
Remember, Alabama would’ve had the door open over the Vols, a team they lost to and that has the same record as them. Tennessee football’s worst loss is to a better team than Alabama’s best win.
Against common opponents, the Vols beat the LSU Tigers on the road by 27. Alabama lost to them. Rocky Top also beat the Vanderbilt Commodores by more than Alabama did.
So UT had the same record, they beat Alabama, and they had a better record against common opponents. Somehow, though, Alabama almost had a chance to get in over them.
Such a move would’ve wrecked the already-damaged credibility of the committee. There is no metric when looking at the overall body of work that Alabama should have been ahead of the Vols. The sport as a whole would’ve been destroyed, maybe irreparably.
Instead, the committee prioritized records over anything else for Power Five teams. All four teams are either undefeated or have just one loss.
Sure, they chose the path of least resistance, but it was the only way they could keep some semblance of credibility. Maybe skeptics would have wanted Alabama in to outwardly destroy it, but that would’ve caused way more damage.
After all, Alabama benefitting from such destruction of credibility is the last thing anybody wants. It would’ve made the sport, which struggles to reach an audience beyond the south nowadays, even more hyper-regional.
Because of that, Tennessee football fans can breathe easy. They don’t have to watch an Alabama team they beat go play for a national title it didn’t deserve.
In terms of comparing resumes, Ohio State played fewer top 25 teams than Alabama, but they have the best win of the two, over the Penn State Nittany Lions. TCU and Alabama share the same best win, the Texas Longhorns, but TCU won by more.
Taking that into account, the committee got it right. Honestly, though, this was clearly a year in which the BCS would’ve been fine, as the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs and No. 2 Michigan Wolverines are the only two deserving teams.