Alabama deserved to be omitted

by Gary Shelton on December 5, 2022

in general

Monday, 4 p.m.

They are the team of a generation. They are the biggest mansion on the hill. They have the most accomplished coach in the country.

When you talk about national championships, you start in Tuscaloosa. When you are debating Heismans, you start in their backfield. They are where the recruits go, where the trophies live, where the confetti falls.

But, no, Alabama didn't deserve to be in the college playoffs this year.

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Recent history is full of teams that ended up just outside of the playoffs, all of them with fans who can recite their reasons why they should be picked over this team or that.

This year, that's Alabama. Which deserves no sympathy.

I say that while realizing that Alabama coach Nick Saban is correct. The Tide would be favored to beat Ohio State. They should be favored to beat TCU. It would be a pick-em game against Michigan.

But the playoffs also show us that favored teams don't always win. That's part of the charm. But this isn't about who would be expected to beat whom. This is about who has done the best job in the season leading up to it.

This year, Alabama lost two games. In a bottom-line sport, that's one too many.'

The Crimson Tide finished fifth in the latest AP Poll. Four teams go to the playoffs. The math isn't hard.

Look, Alabama football and I go back a ways. The first beat I ever had was covering Alabama in '78 and '79, Bear Bryant's last two title teams. No one respects what Alabama has done more than I do.

But there isn't an Alabama fan alive who doesn't consider this a less-than-successful season. Last-play losses, on the road, to sixth-ranked Tennessee and 16th-ranked LSU ruined the season.

It is true that any Alabama loss is a headline-seizing event, a storm-the-field occurrence.

But who do you leave out?

Georgia? The Bulldogs are easily the top seed in the upcoming tournament. Frankly, I'd pick them to beat Alabama again.

Michigan? The Wolverines are unbeaten and wore out Ohio State in their head-to-head meeting. There should be no challenges to their selection.

TCU? The Frogs lost one game, on the last play of overtime in the conference title. They've achieved more than Alabama has.

Ohio State? This is really the Tide's only argument. Like Alabama, they didn't reach their conference title game. But Ohio State lost just once - though it was by a lot and at home. Still, they had wins over Penn State and Notre Dame. They just edge out the Tide.

That's the way it works, and no one has handled the expectations of the committee over the years better than Alabama. Alabama will go into the off-season aware that if they had pulled out the game over Tennessee, if they had stopped a two-point try by LSU, then they would be invited to the party.

They weren't.

They earned their disappointment. It's all they are left with,

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