A move to the SEC doesn’t change the Sooners College Football Playoff prospects

·4 min read

The ever-evolving landscape of college football continues to provide the top storyline in the country. Today, the Southeastern Conference Presidents will meet to discuss and vote on admission petitions from the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas to be the 15th and 16th members of the conference.

It’s expected that the vote will be unanimous despite early objections from Texas A&M officials. Though it will only require 11 “yes” votes for the measures to pass, it now appears like all 14 schools will welcome the Sooners and Longhorns with open arms.

One of the many talking points about the pending move for the Oklahoma Sooners is what this does to their college football playoff or national championship aspirations. That’s at the forefront now as the Sooners head into 2021 as one of the favorites to win the national championship. While the road to the conference championship gets rockier in the SEC, the Sooners’ prospects of making the College Football Playoff doesn’t change much.

It wasn’t long ago that the powers that be in college football came up with and released a proposal that would expand the playoff system from four to 12 teams. In a 12 team system, which could go into effect as early as 2022, the Oklahoma Sooners would have just as good a shot as anyone to make the College Football Playoff.

In the proposal, the top four seeds would go to the highest-ranked conference champions. The Group of Five would finally get representation with the highest-ranked conference champion getting admitted to the playoff. Six of the seeds would go to the highest-ranked conference champion, but the Power Five conference champions would not be guaranteed a spot in the playoff.

For example, the 2020 Oregon Ducks won the PAC 12 championship but remained unranked after toppling USC. Though they won their championship, there were six other conference champions that were ranked higher in the last USA Today Coaches Poll before bowl season kicked off.

Looking at that final poll from an SEC perspective, nothing changes much for the Sooners.

In that final poll, the SEC had four teams in the top 10: Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Florida. Were there a college football playoff in 2020, it’s likely at least three SEC schools are admitted to the playoff. It’s not outside the realm of possibility to think as many as four SEC schools could have made the playoff last season.

Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Oklahoma, and Coastal Carolina represent the six highest-ranked conference champions. Because Notre Dame was relevant in 2020, ranked fourth in the country at the end of the season, they’d get a spot. That leaves five more spots to provide at-large bids to the rest of the country.

Texas A&M and Georgia would have been admitted to a 12-team playoff format and then there are three more spots that could have gone to Iowa State, Florida, Indiana, Northwestern, North Carolina, BYU, Iowa, Louisiana-Lafayette, or Miami.

Iowa State and Indiana probably get two of those at-large bids as the runner-ups in the Big 12 and Big 10. Then that final spot is a free for all but it would be difficult to argue against Florida. Even as the second-best team in the SEC East, there’s certainly an argument that those other options listed above aren’t as good a team as Florida was.

Even from a conservative analysis, the Oklahoma Sooners would enter the SEC as one of the top four or five teams in the conference. At best, they’re the second or third best team in the SEC.

In an SEC that has dominated the college football landscape, getting three teams in the college football playoff seems all but certain and in most seasons, they’ll get a fourth. That’s just how the conference is viewed from a national perspective.

Oklahoma missed out on their first college football playoff in 2020 after a 8-2 season that culminated with a sixth Big 12 Championship and a Cotton Bowl win over the Florida Gators. in a 12-team format, the Sooners are all but guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Even though the conference schedule gets tougher in the SEC and they’ll be less likely to dominate the conference championship scene the way they have in the Big 12, they’ll still be one of the favorites in the conference. Even if they finish third or fourth in the conference, they’ll still have an inside track at getting into the college football playoff.

And in the playoffs, anything can happen.