Geography Lesson: CFP Features Southern Flavor, But Is That A Good Thing?
The CFP semifinals take place Monday with Georgia-Oklahoma followed by Clemson-Alabama, meaning the fourth edition of the playoff is a "very Southern affair," according to George Schroeder of USA TODAY. UGA, Alabama and Clemson "form a narrow wedge of pie" on a U.S. map, while Oklahoma is the outlier -- "though it could be argued that Norman, Okla., is a pretty good regional and cultural fit." There is a "legitimate debate to be had about whether this geographic concentration is a good thing for college football." The question is whether "leaving the largest portion of the country out of the postseason tournament is wise" (USA TODAY, 12/29). In Atlanta, Seth Emerson noted there is evidence that one region's "dominance of the playoff" is a not a good thing. The highest-rated CFP Championship game was the first one in '14, when it "featured two teams from different regions: Ohio State and Oregon." Many more people "watched that game than the two subsequent championship games, both matching Alabama and Clemson." Additionally, the Alabama-LSU title game in '12 was "one of the lowest-rated championship games" during the BCS era. The two highest-rated BCS championship games -- Texas-USC in '06 and Ohio State-Miami in '03 -- did not involve SEC teams (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 12/23).
HERE WE GO AGAIN: CBSSPORTS.com's Dennis Dodd noted a Clemson-Alabama matchup will "account for a quarter of the 12 CFP games by the end of this year's playoff," meaning Monday's Sugar Bowl "could be either absolutely thrilling or the beginning of something tedious." However, if fans believe Clemson-Alabama "is getting old, well, deal with it." Until someone else "breaks through, the Tigers and Tide continue to define college football's postseason" (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/27). USA TODAY's Paul Myerberg noted this Sugar Bowl matchup was "seemingly preordained the moment the clocks hit zero" in last year's national championship. Myerberg: "It’s safe to say the pregame story for the Sugar Bowl is this: Alabama wanted Clemson, and it got Clemson" (USA TODAY, 12/27).
TO EACH HIS OWN: In South Carolina, Michael Burns noted Alabama coach Nick Saban and his team’s “no-nonsense” approach to the CFP is different than that of the “fun-loving” Clemson team. Neither team is “changing as they prepare" for their third matchup in as many CFPs. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney: “I want our guys to enjoy everywhere we go, all these bowl trips. We try to enjoy the journey. ... We're excited to be here and look forward to participating in a great week” (GREENVILLE NEWS, 12/28). In Baton Rouge, Ted Lewis notes the attitudes about “just how much ‘the bowl experience’ matters to Alabama and Clemson is reflected in the words of the players, who are pretty much parroting the differing attitudes of their coaches.” Alabama RB Damien Harris said, “This is a business trip for us. We’re not looking at what we can get into in New Orleans. We are focused on how we can defeat Clemson and blocking out the outside stuff.” Meanwhile, Clemson DT Christian Wilkins said that while it is also a business trip for Clemson, he is “looking forward to his first visit to the Crescent City” (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 12/28).