While I would agree that Alabama resides in the second class of the expanded SEC right now, I don't know if that is good enough to make the expanded College Football Playoff. ESPN's Paul Finebaum may have the Crimson Tide in as an at-large team at the moment, but he certainly had some things to say about Kalen DeBoer's program during his weekly radio hit on McElroy & Cubelic in the Morning.
Finebaum has Georgia and Texas as the only teams in Tier I of the SEC right now. I would tend to agree with that, and you probably would, too. However, he has Alabama in Tier II along with Ole Miss and Missouri right now, possibly as playoff probables. Ole Miss definitely feels like a playoff team, but I am not so sure about Alabama, and I definitely do not feel that way about Missouri at all at this time.
I do agree with Finebaum in that Ryan Grubb's departure to the Seattle Seahawks is a huge red flag.
“I might have had a little more confidence in that a couple of days ago. Without knowing the OC situation is, but I still think there are so many great players on that team. And I think DeBoer is a very competent coach that it’s going to come down to one game, and it’s going to come down to one game. I’m not playing games here, but I see Alabama losing a game or two. But it’s just a matter of that one game, do they win it, and get in the Playoffs, or not. And right now I favor them getting in.”
DeBoer is a fantastic head coach and play-caller, but he may be playing with one hand tied behind his back as he embarks on entering a new league in a part of the country he does not know much about.
Paul Finebaum throws some College Football Playoff shade at Alabama
What you have to understand in all this is this is new territory for everyone. We dealt with one playoff format for a decade, and had a great grasp of how the Selection Committee would operate to best predict what it could do in the end. However, this is about to a be a 12-teamer, one where we are not entirely sure if the 5-7 model will be voted upon and approved with the dissolution of the Pac-12.
Just to keep things as simple as possible, let's assume a 5-7 format, meaning the five highest-ranked conference champions are getting in, as well as the seven next-best teams who did not win their league. If we want to slice up the pie, here is how many spots may go to each league. The Group of Five gets one. The Big Ten and SEC likely get seven or eight. The ACC and Big 12 will get three or four.
If we wanted to dissect the supposed allotment of the Big Ten and the SEC, four or five will go to the SEC in most years, and three or four will go to the Big Ten in most years as well. So ... will the Crimson Tide be a top-four-or-five team in the SEC next year? Well, they are not going to be top two, as Georgia and Texas loom large. I have them at about four or five behind Ole Miss, in the mix with LSU.
I think what we are looking at is Alabama being, for all intents and purposes, the fourth seed out of the SEC, or the last SEC team getting into the expanded 12-team field. That would have them slotted no higher than the No. 7 seed, but no lower than the No. 11 seed because the Group of Five has to get a team in. They will occupy the No. 12 seed in most postseason formats. Alabama is likely No. 8 or 9.
If that were the case, you are probably playing either the second or third-best team in the Big Ten or the best team out of the ACC and Big 12 that did not win its conference. Again, I think that is a totally fair spot to put Alabama in at. They have so much talent coming back. DeBoer is a great head coach. However, it has been one thing after another when it comes to the transition of power in Tuscaloosa.
Right now, I agree with Finebaum that Alabama is a playoff team, but only by the skin of its teeth.