With the NCAA National Championship looming Monday night, lots of the build-up for the Tiger brawl coming to New Orleans is looking at the path both Clemson and LSU took to get to the title game. Close games like Clemson’s narrow win over North Carolina or LSU’s close call in Auburn are hyper analyzed as much as the Tigers’ wins in the College Football Playoff. For better or worse, all of the guessing games are about to stop, and we’re about to have our sixth College Football Playoff based Championship Game.
It’s hard to think of a more one sided contest, especially between two top 5 teams, than we saw in Oklahoma vs LSU. The Bayou Bengals were breaking single game offensive records before halftime. Heisman quarterback Joe Burrow led a Tiger offense you 49 first half points in what became the most eye opening blowout of the post season. With very little game planning to talk about, LSU notably had offensive linemen responding to tweets during the halftime intermission.
Amidst the postgame talk were memes of the crying Sooner fan, gifs of the Sooner wagon falling over, and Jalen Hurts’ heartfelt post game presser about being unable to come back and working to “fix it.”
Sprinkled throughout was a very large contingent of fans calling OUs appearances, as well as the College Football Playoff, a failure because of the amount of blowouts it has yielded. In the six years of the CFP, seven of the seventeen games have been decided by 3 or more scores.
Sure, on the surface, that seems like it’s too often. But really, in the short lived experiment that is the College Football Playoff, it is a memorable but small portion of the results.
Under the 15 years of the previous BCS system, we have seen a lot of blowouts as well. Frankly, the old system this year would have paired defending champion Clemson against Georgia or Alabama in an Orange Bowl matchup that likely would have also been a blowout. Then, come January, college football fans would have to have hypothetical debates about if an undefeated Clemson was somehow more of a national champion than either Number 1 LSU or Number 2 Ohio State.
Instead, the Clemson Tigers are going to get to defend their title by playing both.
The College Football Playoffs are not a failure because there is a tier of NCAA programs significantly better than the rest. If anything, they’re a success because they let that tier duke it out amongst themselves.
Further, we see blowouts across the history of the BCS Bowl Games. When reflecting on the highs of a 1-2 matchup, it’s easy to think of how much fun the 2006 Texas – USC Rose Bowl was… but we can’t forget it also gave us a 41-14 blowout in Florida vs Ohio State the next year. Even with how exciting the Miami – Ohio State Fiesta Bowl was in 2003, two years later we saw a 55-19 drumming of Oklahoma by USC.
We can’t just act like it didn’t also give us Alabama vs Notre Dame in 2012, and we also can’t like the Utah, Boise State, and TCU teams of the BCS era weren’t left out of fighting for something bigger. If anything, those depraved seasons led Utah to the PAC 12 and TCU to the BIG 12, respectively. They had to pony up and join the bigger conferences just for a shot at the top 2 in the old system.
The shortcomings of the College Football Playoff isn’t that it’s including the occasional blowout, every system will allow for that. It’s that it still keeps out the smaller programs.
In its opening year, Ohio State and Ezekiel Elliot ran from the squeezing in as a 4 seed past ___ and Alabama en route to a National Title. The 5 and 6 seeds that year? Co-Big 12 champions TCU and Baylor. While they had the correct conference patch on their uniforms, the only real argument was the logo on their helmet. Had Oklahoma or Texas split the conference title that year, it’s hard to imagine they’d have been overlooked. As we’ve seen in years since, Oklahoma can win a bad Big 12 conference and make it in, deserving or not.
That’s not even that the Big 12 idk deserving of a shot… but that within conferences, even with similar resumes, the same hierarchies exist. The whole point in expanding to a 4 team playoff seemed like a way to open doors. The front door may be open, but the screen door in front of it still keeps “the pests” out.
So has the College Football Playoff been a success? It’s certainly felt like it produces a more authentic champion in that the finalists had to win a big game to get there. If the failure sentiment comes from seven out of seventeen games being won by three scores, then we need to acknowledge that even the BCS system had that. The BCS system had six out of the sixteen championship games alone ended in 17+ point blowouts, too.
If we’re going to declare the College Football Playoff a failure at this point, we need to asses if it’s doing what it was intended to do. If that was make us feel good about the finalists, then maybe it’s been ok? If that was to open itself up to the non-traditional powers, then it’s not.
If the goal was to never watch a blowout in a championship setting, then I hate to break it to ya, but that’s never been not a part of it.
The kids playing are between 17 and 23 years old, with very few exceptions. As much as a committee can scout film, take notes, and project theories… they’re still kids, and very susceptible to unpredictable behavior.
The Tigers vs the Tigers may be as big a blowout as the LSU vs Oklahoma game, it may be even closer than the Clemson vs. Ohio State game, and it may be somewhere in the middle. But we can’t continue to judge the success of the College Football Playoff solely based on the outcome of the game itself. The success of the playoff is already evident in that for the third time in six years, we have a final that isn’t the 1 seed vs. the 2 seed.
The College Football Playoff is successful, and a few blowouts of lower seeds doesn’t change that.
NFL May Play Games on Saturday if College Football is Cancelled
Of all the professional sports leagues impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL has been the one best positioned to keep operations going as planned up to this point.
Due to timing, the NFL has been able to take advantage of their calendar by continuing their offseason as planned, through the use of virtual technology. Free agency took place on time, as did last week’s NFL Draft.
The league has had the luxury of time on their hands to plan for their season and plan to play games on schedule when the time comes. However the actual scheduling of the games could be different than ever before.
The chances of packing NFL stadiums with upwards of 60,000 screaming fans this fall appears to be a pipe-dream at this point. Instead the league is going to be playing games without fans and will instead need to profit solely off their television contracts.
One way to make more money through television would be to schedule games for both Saturday and Sunday, leaving more primetime slots available to be filled on networks with NFL games.
The NFL will usually hold off on scheduling any Saturday games until the end of the season, when College Football is no longer being played.
But since there is a good chance that the NCAA simply postpones this season, that opens the door for the NFL to take advantage of the hole in Saturday programming.
While the difference in playing an NFL and a college game may not seem to be that stark, the NFL is better positioned to play a season than the NCAA. The reason being that their players are adults that are getting paid, rather then kids who could be put at risk.
Also the NCAA relies more heavily on their gate at the games than the NFL does, especially when you consider the operation costs for well over 100 teams that play in college compared to the 32 in the NFL.
At this point, everyone is just trying to figure out how to get sports to resume during these uncertain times. With that being said, the NFL is sure to get a ton of viewers if they can air games all weekend starting this fall, without college to compete with.
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Superstar RB Travis Etienne Announces Return to Clemson for Senior Season
Coming into this season, many thought it was a foregone conclusion that Clemson running back Travis Etienne was going to enter the NFL after he became eligible this year.
Etienne has been one of the best running backs in the nation over his three years at Clemson, making him a surefire top pick in the NFL Draft.
So when Etienne posted a statement to Twitter, many assumed it would be to announce the end of his Clemson career.
Instead Etienne has decided to stay at Clemson for his senior season and try to win another national championship with the Tigers.
Etienne, 20, came to Clemson in 2017 and rushed for 766 yards and 13 touchdowns. Then as a sophomore, Etienne had a breakout season that saw him rush for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns.
This season, Etienne added another dimension to his game, becoming a reliable pass-catcher out of the backfield for Trevor Lawrence. Etienne had 37 catches for 432 yards, while still rushing for 1,614 yards on the ground.
Many thought that Etienne would be considered the top running back prospect in the draft, as Pro Football Focus College had him ranked as the top back in the nation this year.
Now Etienne returns to Clemson, where he hopes to win his second championship in three years, but also risks a lot in that pursuit.
As high as his stock was, there really isn’t anything Etienne can do to raise his profile more heading into next year’s draft. He is also risking injury by playing another season in college before the guaranteed money in the NFL.
Hopefully Etienne has a healthy and productive year and can still hold that level of ranking when it is time to enter the 2021 NFL Draft next year.
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