Why Alabama and Clemson Always Win

For the fourth straight year these teams meet in the college football playoffs

Marky Billson, host of Tri-Cities Sports NOW

The New Year’s Day Bowl games have taught us we don’t need to expand the college football playoff.

If an 11–2 record to begin with didn’t convince you, Georgia proved they didn’t belong by being routed by Texas.

Neither did Central Florida after losing to SEC also-ran Louisiana State.

One can make an argument for Ohio State, but between the politics of the Zach Smith situation and Nick Bosa quitting the team a Buckeyes national title would have fully exposed all of the warts of college football.

Which might have been a good thing, but it isn’t enough to devalue the one good thing college football still has going; a regular season that means something.

We know that, by virtue of the regular season, Ohio State isn’t as good as Clemson or Alabama. So why give them an invite to prove what we already know?

Expanding a playoff only devalues the regular season. We see this with empty stands at NASCAR races where Cup races have become nothing but preliminaries, we say the baseball season is now too long, and we ignore hockey and basketball until the postseason.

Only football have regular seasons with true value. If №1 and №2 meet in December in college basketball, the game is soon forgotten. If №1 and №2 meet in September in college football, the game is in prime time and shapes the season.

But there has become increasing feeling that with the dominance of Alabama and Clemson college football’s regular season is just a preliminary as well.

The Crimson Tide and Tigers have become the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers of the FBS.

We could state the obvious reasons for this; winning in college football begets more winning. There is a no draft. A winning team will, if competent, recruit the best players.

Clemson provides a culture that is more pro-player than most in college football. A decision is made that Trevor Lawrence will replace Kelly Bryant at quarterback. But it is done with enough time that Bryant can transfer and not lose a season of eligibility.

With a demeanor like this who wouldn’t want to play for Dabo Swinney?

But also, in an era of Title IX and criticism against the violent nature of football, Alabama and Clemson do not succumb.

While certain states like Ohio and Pennsylvania still produce their share of football players, the talent crop of football has shifted south. And while states like New York and Massachusetts are populated, combine the number of NFL players that come from them and it won’t equal half of what comes from Georgia.

Hence, why the SEC wins the national title every season. Unless it comes from the ACC.

Before the ACC expanded in the 1990s Clemson was historically the conference’s team to beat in football and the conference’s worst basketball program. Name one great basketball player from the University of Alabama; the Crimson Tide only has two players in the NBA right now.

These schools are totally committed to football. It’s no coincidence that when Miami was becoming a football dynasty in the 1980s, they didn’t even have a basketball program.

Southern California, Penn State, and Nebraska are schools historically totally devoted to football. As are Clemson and Alabama.

Tennessee was, but now seems more basketball orientated.

You don’t keep up with Alabama that way.

One must also look at the culture surrounding the university.

An athlete in Massachusetts, for instance, may be wooed by hockey. Not so in South Carolina. In New York City, you’ll most likely want to play basketball or baseball.

Is soccer viewed as the beautiful game loved around the world or un-American?

Even political cultures may influence whether a program wins or not. Remember when Tennessee traveled to California in 2007? Protesters climbed trees to prevent them from being affected for athletic facilities construction.

They were called Oak Grove Sitters. And so the Golden Bears haven’t been to the Rose Bowl since 1959.

They’re not doing that in College Station. There’s a reason why NYU no longer has a football program and Army does.

As for why Alabama and Clemson every year? Keep in mind South Carolina, which as recently as 2013 had won five straight games against Clemson, no longer has a Steve Spurrier or Lou Holtz to compete against them. Similarly, the demise of Tennessee, which as recently as 2006 had taken 10 of 12 games from Alabama, and the recent demise of Florida State hasn’t hurt the Crimson Tide, either.

Right now they’re the two best programs in the two major football conferences of the south. And with the political and cultural dichotomy of the country one wonders how soon it will change.

Marky Billson hosts Tri-Cities Sports NOW 12–2 p.m. ET on 1420 WEMB Sports Radio. Watch his show live and archived here and here.



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