Starting 11: Alabama Is Killing Everyone
Alabama is the best team in the country and there isn't a close second. Which means every team in the country is just working their asses off to get murdered by the Crimson Tide in the playoff.
With that in mind, let's begin with my Outkick top ten, which I forgot to put up last night because I was too busy reacting to Tennessee's collapse against Vanderbilt.
You can watch that video here. (And, by the way, our Outkick the Show is becoming a monster. We had over 150k live viewers on last night's show on both Facebook Live and Periscope. I now sell all advertising, so if you want to reach a massive audience of live sports viewers, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Here we go with the Outkick national top ten:
2. Ohio State
6. Penn State
Okay, let's dive into the Starting 11.
1. Alabama is the only team that is definitely in the playoff.
The Crimson Tide could lose to Florida and still make the playoff at 12-1. In fact, Bama would still be the number one overall seed even if it just forfeited the SEC title game to Florida. The SEC title game literally means nothing this year.
But let's be honest, Alabama is not losing to Florida.
And I'm not even sure the Gators will cross the fifty yard line on the Tide.
So go ahead and pencil in Alabama as the number one overall seed in the playoff. The Tide will play in Atlanta's Georgia Dome for back-to-back games.
2. Clemson and Washington are in the playoff with wins over Virginia Tech and Colorado, respectively.
Both Clemson and Washington figure to be touchdown or more favorites in their title games so it would be an upset if either team lost.
If either team loses then I think the Big Ten would get a second team in the playoff.
If both teams lose then I suspect Colorado would get in the playoff over a third Big Ten team. Yes, that's even though Michigan would have beaten Colorado head-to-head. 11-2 Colorado would have a pretty strong resume, with both of its losses coming against top ten opponents, at Michigan and against USC.
3. The Big Ten only gets one team in the playoff if Clemson and Washington both win.
So here's the big debate, do you take 11-2 Penn State or 11-1 Ohio State? We're going to be talking about this all week on Outkick, but here's my argument -- you have to take Penn State. The Nittany Lions will have won the division, the conference and hold the head-to-head over Ohio State.
Even though I think that Ohio State is better than Penn State, you can't simply say that game against Penn State doesn't matter. And, to be honest, are we really sure that Ohio State is better than Penn State? The Buckeyes have been fortunate to win each of the past two weeks. Meanwhile Penn State has won every game since it beat Ohio State by double digits.
Including, mind you, a total domination over Michigan State, a team that nearly beat Ohio State last weekend.
So how could Penn State get in over Ohio State?
Remember that the college football playoff poll is a brand new poll every week. That is, the committee is supposed to analyze all the data every week and not be bound by their prior rankings. If you doubt this, ask TCU about that, the Horned Frogs went from in the playoff to outside looking in when Ohio State beat Wisconsin to win the Big Ten title in 2014.
I think if Clemson and Washington win their conferences that both teams would pass Ohio State in the rankings. This would mean Ohio State would fall to the bottom of the playoff rankings. Figure that Penn State would get a good bump for beating top ten team Wisconsin and notching a Big Ten championship and I think Penn State would be at minimum, at fifth in the poll. At that point there wouldn't be very much to distinguish between Ohio State and Penn State and I believe the committee would have to reward a division, conference and head-to-head win.
So I think 11-2 Penn State would and should get in over 11-1 Ohio State.
That's the case especially if you consider the Big Ten resumes of each school. Ohio State would finish 8-1 in the Big Ten and Penn State would finish 9-1. Is Ohio State's resume in the Big Ten better than Penn State's? Of course not. The two schools played the same six schools in the Big Ten East and then Ohio State played Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Northwestern from the Big Ten West. Meanwhile, Penn State will have played Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Purdue. So Penn State will have played the first, tied for second, fourth and seventh west teams while Ohio State will have played the first, tied for second and fifth best Big Ten West schools.
So Penn State, as the 9-1 Big Ten champ, will have the better Big Ten results and schedule.
The difference here is that in week two of the college football season Penn State went on the road and lost a rivalry game at Pittsburgh by three points. So if you're going saying that Ohio State deserves to be in the playoff over Penn State you're basing your decision on an out of conference three point road loss to an 8-4 Pitt team.
Because no one at all would be arguing that Ohio State should be in over Penn State if both teams had one loss, right?
So you're picking one Big Ten team over another Big Ten team that it beat head-to-head because of an early September out-of-conference road loss by three points?
That just doesn't make sense to me.
So I think Penn State has to be Big Ten's playoff selection if only one team gets in.
Now, if Wisconsin wins then I would take Ohio State because the Buckeyes won the head-to-head. (It's also funny how every Buckeye argument is immediately that Penn State has to be in over 11-2 Wisconsin if the Badgers win the Big Ten because of head-to-head. So does head-to-head matter or not, Ohio State?)
4. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are eliminated from playoff contention.
That's why if I were Big 12 commissioner I would be advocating for an eight team playoff. This will be the second time in three seasons that the Big 12 has been left out of the playoff.
The best way to keep the Big 12 intact is to ensure an automatic playoff bid for the conference. That way it's unlikely that Texas or Oklahoma would seek to leave the conference when the present TV deal with Fox and ESPN ends.
I personally think that the conference title games should be eliminated in favor of an eight team playoff that begins the second week in December when the top four playoff seeds get to host on campus games.
This year this would be the games if the top five conference champs got in and you took three at larges:
#1 Bama hosts #8 Oklahoma
#2 Ohio State hosts #7 Wisconsin
#3 Clemson hosts #6 Penn State
#4 Washington hosts #5 Michigan
5. Nick Saban has killed the SEC.
Tennessee, Georgia and LSU have all fired the winningest coaches in their modern eras because they couldn't beat Nick Saban and all of them have ended up with worse coaches to replace them. This would have been like the Utah Jazz firing Karl Malone and John Stockton or the New York Knicks cutting Patrick Ewingfor losing to the Jordan-era Bulls. Saban is Michael Jordan and you just have to accept that your team isn't going to beat his.
But you don't have to turn your programs into total shit shows.
Georgia just lost to Vandy, Tennessee, Florida and Georgia Tech for the first time in program history. Butch Jones just lost to Vanderbilt for the second time in four years, and LSU just gave the head job to a guy who should be wrestling alligators in the swamp for a living.
When the Crimson Tide beats Florida this coming weekend every single SEC team will have four losses or more.
And I honestly think everyone in the SEC wants their coach fired this morning except for Kentucky and Vanderbilt, and both of these fan bases wanted their coach fired for the vast majority of the season.
I feel like we need a coach swap just to spice things up. Like, why not send Kevin Sumlin to Tennessee and Butch Jones to Texas A&M for the year, send Jim McElwain to Arkansas and Bret Bielema to Florida, Kirby Smart to Auburn and Gus Malzahn to Georgia.
No one wants their coach and at least this way we'd have some excitement.
Because the entire SEC is a gigantic dumpster fire.
6. Speaking of dumpster fires, Tennessee needs to fire Butch Jones.
When you give up 416 yards passing to Kyle Shurmur, you have to go.
When you give up over 600 yards of offense to Vanderbilt, you have to go.
When you go for the touchdown on fourth down down 11 despite needing two scores and a converted onside kick and your best offensive player runs out of bounds before the sticks, you have to go.
The Vols are two plays away from 6-6, an overtime fumble recovery against App State and a hail mary touchdown against Georgia.
Butch Jones is not a good football coach and I'm of the belief that what should be done has to be done sooner rather than later. Butch Jones is going to get fired at the end of next season. So why spend the entire offseason and all of next football season waiting for his inevitable firing? Do it now.
Who would I hire?
I would personally rehire Lane Kiffin. I swear to God I would. He's a total asshole and he cheats his ass off and you basically walked in on him doggystyling your sister last time he coached the Vols, but in the year he coached Tennessee they were the best organized and most efficient team the Vols have had since Phil Fulmer left. I think he's only gotten better at coaching since then.
What's more, I think Lane Kiffin could coach circles around everyone in the SEC East right now. When Kiffin coached the Vols he had to go up against Steve Spurrier at South Carolina, Urban Meyer at Florida, Bobby Johnson at Vanderbilt, Rich Brooks at Kentucky, and Mark Richt at Georgia. All five schools have worse coaches now.
If you don't rehire Kiffin then I would go after Bobby Petrino, JON GRUDEN, Mike MacIntyre, and Mike Leach in that order.
And I might just say, fuck it, and go hire Art Briles. Sure, everyone will crush you in the media, but I'd rather get ripped in the media and called an asshole program than lose to Vanderbilt twice in four years.
7. Did Lamar Jackson lose the Heisman trophy?
Maybe, but who else are you going to vote for? No one really deserves the award this year.
In years like this, when no one really deserves the award, you should be able to retroactively award an additional Heisman to a deserving, but passed over candidate from past years.
So I think everyone should vote for Vince Young or Peyton Manning to get the Heisman this year.
Wouldn't this be so much more entertaining? If they brought Peyton Manning and Vince Young to New York and retroactively awarded one of them the Heisman? (That's especially the case since they took Reggie Bush's Heisman so no one even won it that year.)
8. If Ed Orgeron can persuade Lane Kiffin to join him in Baton Rouge and keep Dave Aranda in place at defensive coordinator, then the LSU hire won't be a total disaster.
Alabama fans refuse to believe that Kiffin would leave for LSU, but I think he will.
Two reasons: 1. Saban's an asshole to work for. 2. Jeauxy Swampwater will make more money and slay more hot chick ass in the swamps of Louisiana than any man since Huey Long.
Plus, I think many give credit for Kiffin's offense working to Nick Saban's talent.
The only way I can see Kiffin staying at Bama? If Alabama did the unbelievable and tapped Kiffin as coach-in-waiting to take over when Saban retires.
9. The SEC East and the SEC West are basically equal this year.
If you take Alabama out of the equation then the SEC East finished 5-9 against the SEC West this year. Florida beat LSU, Georgia beat Auburn, Kentucky beat Mississippi State, Vandy beat Ole Miss and Mizzou beat Arkansas. Toss in the fact that Tennessee went to double overtime on the road with Texas A&M and the Vols were fairly even against the west too.
South Carolina was the only team to lose both games against the SEC West in regulation and even those games were competitive.
Unfortunately, the SEC East didn't rise up to challenge the SEC West, it just pulled everyone else in the SEC down into the muck with them.
10. What do the SEC coach hot seat rankings look like entering bowl season?
Most likely to be fired:
1. Butch Jones
2. Bret Bielema
3. Kevin Sumlin
4. Gus Malzahn
I think it's fairly likely that all four of these guys get fired next year.
Then this next group could get fired with bad seasons, but seems likely to potentially survive to 2018:
5. Barry Odom
6. Mark Stoops
7. Hugh Freeze
8. Ed Orgeron (It would be the most LSU thing ever to fire Coach O. after one year if he went 5-7.)
9. Jim McElwain
10. Kirby Smart
11. Dan Mullen
These guys are probably safe:
12. Derek Mason
13. Will Muschamp
This guy is a golden god who could commit murder on camera and retain his job and probably still get a raise.
14. Nick Saban
11. Here are your SEC power rankings:
I think the top list is more accurate, but here's my best attempt at ranking teams this week:
1. Alabama (12-0, 8-0 SEC)
2. LSU (7-4, 5-3 SEC)
3. Florida (8-3, 6-2 SEC)
4. Auburn (8-4, 5-3 SEC)
5. Texas A&M (8-4, 4-4 SEC)
6. Tennessee (8-4, 4-4 SEC)
7. Georgia (7-5, 4-4 SEC)
8. Kentucky (7-5, 4-4 SEC)
9. Arkansas (7-5, 3-5 SEC)
10. Vanderbilt (6-6, 3-5 SEC)
11. Mississippi State (5-7, 3-5 SEC)
12. South Carolina (6-6, 3-5 SEC)
13. Ole Miss (5-7, 3-5 SEC)
14. Mizzou (4-8, 2-6 SEC)