Well, sure, those games count - except for the time when the Tigers beat the Tide in the regular season, in Tuscaloosa. Or when any other team played, for that matter, because regardless of what they did, they weren’t going to enter this closed shop.
Yes, it’s been said, but it must be said once more. Every other American team sport, and every other NCAA football division, has a tournament to determine a champion. No other sport waits a full month between the end of the regular season and its title game, with nothing but glorified exhibitions in between.
Of course the risk is run that, in any playoff system, the best team might not win. But we’ve long grown accustomed to it and made our peace, as long as it’s exchanged for a fair opportunity for as many of the best teams as possible to go for that title.
The supreme irony of this situation is that the SEC is to blame for it, but not because of on-field domination.
First, the SEC initiated the conference championship game 20 years ago. Without that, there’s no bout of expansion madness where rivalries, geographic boundaries and traditions get trashed by schools in the name of TV money, or the fear that they won’t get more of it in the future.
What’s more, it was SEC commissioner Mike Slive that helped to introduce the “plus-one” plan to the BCS years ago (and got nowhere with it), never dreaming that his league would grow so omnipotent, but just wanting his teams to have a better chance at the big prize.
As usual, if the move to a “plus-one” or some other form of playoff happens as early as 2013, it’s not because fans clamor for it or because it’s the right thing to do. It’s because of money and ratings. Any playoff just about guarantees both.