I’m trying to be optimistic about the college football season. My guess is you are, too.
If so, you shouldn’t be devastated because the Big Ten and Pac-12 decided to postpone their seasons to the spring due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. As of this writing, three Power 5 conferences are pushing onward.
Good for them. They should be rewarded for their resolve.
So, I don’t want to hear any talk about canceling the College Football Playoff just because two conferences have backed out. After all, their withdrawal only eliminates one team from the CFP discussion.
Any guesses on the team?
If you answered “Southern California,” you must think Pete Carroll has replaced Clay Helton as coach. If you answered “Michigan,” you must think Urban Meyer has replaced Jim Harbaugh as coach.
No team from the Pac-12 has won a national title since USC in 2004. Ohio State won national championships in 2002 and 2014. No other Big Ten team has won a national championship since Michigan in 1997.
My guess is Ohio State would have been in the running for another national title in 2020. Now, it’s on the outside looking in unless it can wrangle its way out of Big Ten contractual obligations and compete in the Big 12 for a season.
With Ohio State out of the way, picking college football’s final four has never been easier. You take Clemson from the ACC, Oklahoma from the Big 12, and Georgia and Alabama from the SEC.
How could anyone argue with that?
Clemson already has won one national championship and played for another championship with Trevor Lawrence at quarterback. A Lawrence injury is the only thing that could keep the Tigers out of the CFP.
Who in the Big 12 is going to beat Oklahoma? The offense has been so prolific under coach Lincoln Riley, the Sooners need to make only a couple of defensive stops per game to roll through the Big 12.
Georgia received a huge scheduling break when the SEC served up Mississippi State and Arkansas as its two additional opponents under the revised 10-game, conference-only schedule. The Bulldogs could have half their team in quarantine and still beat Arkansas by a double-digit margin.
Alabama doesn’t need a scheduling break to win the West again. Coach Nick Saban probably is already studying Clemson game tape — provided, of course, he has had time to become as familiar with Georgia as he is his own team.
It’s conceivable that Georgia and Alabama could play three times — first, in the regular season; next, in the SEC Championship Game; and finally, in the CFP.
Remember how the 2017 football season ended? Alabama spotted Georgia a 20-10 lead after three quarters before winning the national championship in overtime on a 41-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to freshman wide receiver DeVonta Smith.
That game is a great reminder of what we would miss if the rest of the Power 5 conferences follow the Pac-12 and Big Ten’s lead. Let’s don’t give up yet — on the season or the playoff.
John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at: twitter.com/johnadamskns.