"As the selection committee, we come back to our charge, our focus and our mission," Hocutt told ESPN on Sunday. "That is to select the four very best teams in college football. We talk about the metrics that are provided to us when there are two teams that are comparable to one another: conference championships, strength of schedule, head-to-head outcomes, games against common opponents. All of that matters to the selection committee." Translation: The committee doesn’t attach the mystical significance to a conference title that a lot of fans do, probably because the members of the committee work in the sport and understand unbalanced schedules in huge leagues have diluted those titles.
Never mind actually beating Alabama. Start first with picking an offense in the field that can actually move the ball against Alabama. That hasn't happened with any consistency in months. "Eat, destroy, predator, conquer everything," said Alabama defensive end Tim Williams on Saturday night in the SEC Championship Game locker room. He was already working himself into a playoff lather right then and there.
No. 3 Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama: Peppers represents the defensive vote, but there are already plenty of people who are, shall we say, not thrilled about the selection. And if a defensive player is going to make the final five, Allen has a legitimate case. He is tied for first on the Crimson Tide defense with 8.5 sacks and has 13 tackles for loss. He also has an astonishing 15 quarterback hurries. But besides the pressure he puts on quarterbacks and running backs, he also has converted two fumble recoveries into touchdowns. Alabama's defense is a beast up front, and there are many tremendous players on the unit, but Allen is as disruptive as any edge rusher in college football.
I don’t deny there’s a cloud hanging over the newly announced 2016 playoff field. And that cloud is named Alabama. I’ve been covering college football postseasons long enough to remember quite a few other "overwhelming favorites," but the 2016 Crimson Tide’s dominance to this point just feels different. Nick Saban’s team this year has essentially bludgeoned 13 teams to death. Those teams got legit scares during the season. They had identifiable weaknesses. Alabama, to this point, has none.
Dylan Moses had a big Monday. First, the five-star linebacker and Alabama commit, currently enrolled at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), met with Tide head coach Nick Saban and outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi during an in-school visit. Then to cap off the evening, Moses was awarded the 2016 high school Butkus Award -- given to the nation's top linebacker -- by Dick Butkus himself.
Alabama backup offensive lineman Josh Casher suffered a broken foot during the Tide's win over Florida in the SEC championship game on Saturday, sources confirmed to AL.com. The injury was first reported by The Tuscaloosa News. Casher had surgery on Monday and is expected to be out around three months, according to a source.
For the first time since 2012, Nick Saban won't be sitting behind one of his players at the Heisman Trophy ceremony. When the five finalists were announced Monday, the No. 1 team in the country did not have a representative. There was buzz about defensive end Jonathan Allen being a dark horse candidate, but the voters didn't have him among the five finalists invited to Saturday's ceremony in New York. This is also the first SEC shutout among finalists since 2005.
We will spend the next four weeks debating Alabama's place in history more than we will debate whether Washington, a team with the kind of speed at the skill positions that has challenged the Crimson Tide, not to mention a smart, athletic defense, will pull off the upset.
The four teams in the College Football Playoff all graduated at least 74 percent of their players in 2016, according to the latest look at graduation rates for all college football bowl teams, released Monday by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida. Alabama graduated 80 percent, Clemson graduated 84 percent, Ohio State graduated 74 percent and Washington graduated 78 percent of their football players, the survey showed. However, that number is lower for black players -- something TIDES director Richard Lapchick noted in his analysis of the results.
"There are two types of coaches," Alabama's veteran outside linebacker explained. "That players' coach and that fearless general. And that's who he is. "He just gives us the power to overcome fear." But it's not just that. In going 13-0, Alabama has also overcome complacency. Saban's mind games, pushing mottos like "Be where your feet are" rather than looking ahead, have worked.
Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will be the top target for the University of South Florida if current head coach Willie Taggart leaves for another position, multiple sources confirmed to SB Nation. Kiffin met with the University of Houston regarding its head coaching opening on Sunday evening. He’s considered a "top" candidate for the Cougars, but sentiment is building for interim head coach Todd Orlando, especially if Orlando can keep current offensive coordinator Major Applewhite. Kiffin is attractive to Houston, but establishing a consistent transition from the Tom Herman era would sway decision makers.
Ed. Note: Finally, more food for thought, and probably a better job than USF should Houston fall through for Coach Kiffin and Taggart go elsewhere:
2. Will head coaching experience be a requirement again? Cincinnati’s last three hires were sitting head coaches (Tuberville, Butch Jones, Brian Kelly). Mark Dantonio was the last assistant hired to the job, coming from Ohio State’s defensive coordinator job in 2004. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports UC is targeting Brohm, Fleck and Charlie Strong, so it looks like head coaching experience is a key factor again.