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Open Letter to the CFP Committee: Why Alabama Should be Ranked #1

The evidence is clear, Mr. Hocutt and friends. You said so yourself.

NCAA Football: Mercer at Alabama Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Dear CFP Committee,

With only one more week of action before you decide which four teams will have the privilege of competing for a national championship, and in which order those teams will be seeded, I am writing to present clear evidence that Alabama should currently sit atop the rankings.

Yes, I am aware that you currently have the Tide ranked #5, and that there is “very little separation” between Alabama and #8 Ohio State, who has a 15-point loss at home to Oklahoma and 31-point loss to Iowa. It seems rather contradictory that no single loss, no matter how awful, eliminates a team from qualifying for a single elimination tournament, but I’ll look past that for now.

Indeed, I am not here to criticize. In fact, I would like to recognize this keen bit of wisdom that committee chair Kirby Hocutt imparted regarding Clemson’s high ranking despite a loss to a putrid Syracuse team:

“We're aware of things that transpire in particular games. Their quarterback came into that game against Syracuse hobbled, looked like he was playing with an injured ankle. He was not 100 percent to begin with, and then when he was concussed in the second quarter, he missed the remaining part of that second quarter and the second half.”

Mr. Hocutt is to be commended. It has been said that the quarterback position is the most difficult to play in sports, and national championship opportunities have literally been ruined by Jordan Jefferson poor quarterback play. Teams often underperform without their best player under center.

Clemson came into the Syracuse game favored by approximately 24 points, and lost by three. Obviously, teams don’t always cover the point spread, but it’s reasonable to expect a national title contender at full strength to beat a 4-8 team, that lost to Middle Tennessee State and dropped its final three games by 74 points, by at least 17, right?

I mean, both Sagarin and F/+ have Syracuse situated neatly between Ole Miss and Arkansas teams that Alabama outscored 107-12.

Clearly, a juggernaut such as Clemson would have won by a modest 17 had they been at full strength. Following Mr. Hocutt’s logic, then, a good starting QB is worth about 20 points toward the outcome of a game.

As you may recall, Alabama opened the season with a game that was hyped considerably, even called the greatest season opening game ever by some pundits. The Florida State Seminoles came into the game ranked #3 in the nation, ready to build their own playoff résumé by knocking off the preseason #1. Unfortunately, the Alabama team lived up to the hype and proved to be too much for the Seminoles. Even worse, Florida State lost starting QB Deondre Francois for the season very late in the game.

I think it is important to note that Francois averaged more yards and touchdowns per game last season than Clemson starter Kelly Bryant has this season. Since we have proven, and Mr. Hocutt has acknowledged, that Bryant is worth about 20 points per game, it only stands to reason that Francois is worth at least that much. This is particularly true since the freshman backup has had a very difficult time of it.

Adding Francois’ 20 points per game back into the equation, Florida State should be viewed by the committee as a 9-2 team. Should Francois have been healthy, they would have torn through most of the conference slate, posting double-digit wins over NCSU, Miami, and Louisville. They also would have a three-point win over Clemson, giving them the division, and that margin would have been greater had Dabo Swinney not decided to score a touchdown in the waning seconds rather than take a knee like most coaches. (Since you consider things that happen within a game, I am certain that you are already aware of such shenanigans, and that Clemson still only beat FSU by the same margin that Alabama beat them with Francois.)

Getting back to Alabama, they now have four top 25 wins, including the season opener over what would have been a top ten Florida State team, and their only loss was competitive, on the road against a top-five, SEC West champion.

Clemson gets credit for beating Auburn, but some of their struggles against middling ACC teams, plus the loss that they surely would have suffered at the hands of a Francois-led Florida State, puts them just a shade behind. Auburn beat Alabama head to head at home, but they still suck also lost to an LSU team that Alabama defeated handily. Oklahoma has a nice win over Ohio State, but also lost to an average Iowa State team. Wisconsin has managed not to lose, but they have struggled at times and clearly ain’t played nobody.

We obviously can’t go back and make Francois whole for the season, but we can consider the impact he would have had on Alabama’s résumé, and on the ACC race. Given all of the information at hand, the most logical ranking is as follows:

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Oklahoma

4. Auburn

5. Wisconsin

Should Clemson and/or Oklahoma obtain conference championships, it would be reasonable to reward them with higher seeding, moving Alabama down to #2 or #3. Wisconsin still ain’t playing nobody, however.

Thank you for taking the time to read. I know that you will do the right thing.

Roll Tide.