Alabama Football to the Rest of College Football: "You're Welcome"
Since Alabama fielded its first football team back in 1891, the Crimson Tide has been the harbinger of two new eras of football. If the articles I read this past week are true, the Tide is at the forefront of yet another radical college football facelift.
It's uncanny how almost every new era of college football has been ushered in by the Crimson Tide. Not by petitions or campaigns, but by circumstance. With zero exception, any of these slides could have been about any other team in the old Southern Conference or the Southeastern Conference.
I put in my article "10 Reasons to Love Alabama" that winning the title game this year was a historical fit. I had no idea at the time that it was this great a fit.
1: To the South
The reason I chose the 1930 team photo is pretty clear to those who know 'Bama history. (Link to the bowls here.)
Essentially, the media wouldn't shut up about Alabama football and the "powers that be" decided to invite an undefeated Tide squad to the Rose Bowl to shut them up. The problem with that was that Alabama won its first-ever national championship 20-19 over the Washington Huskies.
So, the "powers" invited Alabama back the next year to prove that the 1926 Rose Bowl was a fluke. Problem, Stanford? Yes, 'Bama played Stanford to a tie. (Though they tied it up on a trick play.)
Alabama was invited yet again in 1931 to play against the "unbeatable" Washington State. The Tide shut out the Cougars. That game officially silenced the critics. Alabama had beaten the best, and did so in a fashion that put Southern Conference football on the map.
Today, the Southern Conference still exists, and it's affectionately called the "little SEC." (It's the conference that houses the Georgia Southern Eagles of the FCS.) The Southern Conference was the father of the SEC, which wasn't founded until December 1932.
To the football programs below the Mason-Dixon line, "you're welcome."
To All the Official Conference Champions (ever)
Roy Kramer is the "Father of the Conference Championship" in my book. I don't know what others call him, but that's a fitting title in my opinion. Roy Kramer was the mastermind behind the SEC expansion that allowed the 1992 SEC Championship Game to happen.
In that game, an undefeated Alabama squad was in real danger of losing to an 8-3 Florida team. With three minutes to go, the score was tied, and 'Bama was in real danger of losing its berth in the game against the "unbeatable" Miami Hurricanes.
This was Kramer's worst fear and the point that all the naysayers were trying to drive home at the time. Why risk losing an extra game when you're already in the big game?
Well, Antonio Langham intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown with under three minutes remaining in the game. Alabama won 28-21, and the SEC Championship Game was fully legitimized.
After that, conference realignments were (and still are) rampant, with every other major conference trying to get to the 12-team minimum required to hold a legitimate conference championship game. (And every smaller conference trying to achieve relevance.)
To all the football fans who sit in front of their TVs on championship weekend in late November or early December, "you're welcome."
To Those of You in Favor of a Playoff System (Myself Included)
If the articles I have been reading over the past few days are any indication of the intensity of the deliberations over an imminent playoff, then I'm ecstatic! I hope that my lifetime sees a playoff, and sooner rather than later.
As a 'Bama fan, I want all our national championships to be nationally recognized. I don't want to hear fans say things like "but you didn't win your conference" and "but you didn't deserve to be playing in that game."
I want unanimous championships, and I want people who make statements that they will never have to defend to be silenced. (Ahem, Mike Gundy.) I believe Mike Gundy really wanted a chance to play for the title, and I hate that he didn't get it. However, with six teams poised ready to jump 'Bama after the Tide's loss to LSU in November, I do not feel sorry for anyone that 'Bama earned their way back into it by winning.
In any case, if the gurus are correct in reporting the coming playoff system, then Alabama's defeat of LSU is the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. In a playoff, the rematch is a respected phenomenon.
If you haven't gotten the chance to read my playoff idea, feel free to click here. The bottom line is that, no matter what kind of playoff system is implemented, Alabama's 14th National Championship is the event that pushed the current system off the cliff.
To fans of a playoff system, "you're welcome...and Roll Tide Roll!"