In the sports world, the biggest (and often most-heated) discussions center around who should be No. 1.
In the highest level of college football, there is a continuing argument concerning who should be No. 4.
Most agree that LSU, Ohio State and Clemson are in the top three. There may be some minor disagreements about the order (Ohio State has probably played the best overall this season) but only a fan with rose-colored glasses of another team would say these three aren’t at the top.
It’s when we get to the fourth team that the arguments begin.
Let’s start off with those who contend Georgia should be that fourth team. Bulldog fans present the fact their team has some quality wins. That is true. Yet Georgia also has a horrible (beyond horrible) loss to South Carolina. Wins are important but so are losses and this loss still stinks.
You have Oklahoma which put together an impressive win against previously undefeated Baylor last weekend. The Sooners also have a loss, although that setback is not as bad as Georgia’s.
Then there’s Oregon and Utah. The Ducks are having a solid season but their loss to Auburn, even though it was the first game, is looking worse each team the Tigers suffer another loss.
Minnesota was the feel-good story before the Golden Gophers lost close at Iowa. It seems Iowa has a history of spoiling things for would-be playoff teams.
That brings us to Alabama. The Crimson Tide has one loss. The loss was close and was to the team many believe is No. 1. However, that loss was at home for Alabama.
There is no disputing losing to LSU should not be compared to losing to a horrid South Carolina team. What probably hurts Alabama is the fact it really doesn’t have any quality victories. Plus, with their standout quarterback now done for the season, the committee will take that into account although anyone with any level of football knowledge will tell you one player, no matter how good, ever makes a team.
Of course, the easiest solution to all of this would be to have eight teams in the playoffs. That’s probably going to happen in the future but it is still a few years away. In reality, the playoffs could easily be 16 teams.
The old argument that a playoff system would not work for college football is laughable. We heard that for years and finally got a four-team format. Of course all other levels of college football have had a playoffs system for decades and they even have more than 16 teams participating.
Some will say that having this discussion about who is and who isn’t in the top four is good for college football. That theory holds no water because leaving good teams out does nothing to enhance the game.
We still have some miles left to travel before everything is sorted out. It could end up being a non-argument on which teams are in the top four. Then again, we could end up with six or seven teams having legitimate cases.
Right now, however, the No. 4 spot is a highly coveted place to be. Stay tuned.