In an outcome that was predicted by most, Georgia stomped TCU Monday evening 65-7. In doing so, they collected their second title in a row and asserted dominance over not only the SEC, but the nation as well. This game was fascinating to watch, albeit not in the typical ways one would think.
Rather than fans sitting on the edge of their seats in a back-and-forth contest for all the marbles between two deserving and well-matched teams, they ended up pondering just how college football ended up in a place where the title game isn’t even competitive at all.
What do you make of what we saw? Here are 3 large-scale takeaways I was left pondering after this Bulldog beatdown.
Apr 16, 2016; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart greets fans during the Dawg Walk before the spring game at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
I still hear from the “stars don’t matter? crowd daily. They are still active despite facts that disprove their opinion yearly. Georgia faced TCU in the title game with 14 more 5 stars and 37 more 4 stars on their team. 65-7 was the natural result of this disparity.
The fact is that in the last 15 years, only two programs have won national titles without leading up to the title-winning year with a string of top 5 recruiting classes. Thos outliers? They featured the best quarterbacks in the country the years titles were won. These objective facts demonstrate that stars aren’t ALL that matters, but they matter heavily. No amount of “try hard” and “play as a team” by TCU was going to overcome Monday evening’s talent disparity.
Winning Breeds More Winning
Jan 8, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban shakes hands with Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart before the 2018 CFP national championship college football game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj/CFP Images/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports
Elite winning breeds elite recruiting. Elite recruiting breeds elite winning. It shouldn’t be a shock that the best high school players in the country want to play college ball at schools that are both winning and competing for titles yearly and are sending boatloads of talent to the NFL.
The issue is that 95% of college football teams are stuck in the middle of this dynamic spinning their wheels with no easy way out. It’s hard to win elitely without elite talent. And it’s hard to acquire elite talent without elite on-field results. Coaches must find a way out of this middle “no man’s land” and it’s not easy to do. This dynamic is how we end up with “dynasties” like recent Alabama and current Georgia.
12 Team Playoff Implications
Jan 7, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; A genral view of the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy with the Alabama Crimson Tide helmet and the Georgia Bulldogs helmet prior to a press conference at the Sheraton Atlanta. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
This is an interesting question to ponder. Will the CFP expansion to a 12-team playoff format lead to more borderline unwatchable blowout games? It’s a fair question to ask and my answer is yes. And no. Certainly, there will be some game scores that look like Monday’s. But also in a 12-team field you are more likely to end up with a title game that is at least competitive as the rounds move along and the cream rises to the top.
For instance, Alabama missed the playoff this year to the delight of most, but is there truly anyone who believes that they wouldn’t have given Georgia a much more competitive game than TCU? In a 12-team format, the opportunity for this matchup exists in a way it can’t now. This is something to consider as we inch toward the expanded playoff era.