ATLANTA — Relish in the rankings.
The experience of taking in the initial College Football Playoff rankings is like walking into a store in early November and seeing Christmas decorations line the shelves for the first time. The sweet satisfaction that we enjoy come New Year’s Eve is so close, yet so far away. Our appetite for postseason play, that most wonderful time of the year when anything seems possible, will only grow more intense with time.
Of course, the first peek at the rankings led to plenty of reaction. ESPN personalities gathered in downtown Atlanta and spoke to SEC Country about two SEC teams — Alabama at No. 1 and Texas A&M at No. 4 — cracking the top four.
Here are their thoughts:
“It’s not just two SEC teams. It’s two SEC teams that have already played each other. So what does that mean? In my opinion, that means that if they both win out, there’s a good possibility that those two SEC teams can still be there. So this isn’t like a situation a few years ago when you had two SEC teams, and we knew that Mississippi State was going to play Alabama or Mississippi State and Ole Miss were going to play. This is different. I think now you have the first legitimate opportunity to have two teams in the same conference (make the College Football Playoff). … Initially, it also shows you the committee cares who you play. Although Auburn, UCLA and Tennessee aren’t world-beaters, they are what I would call legitimate competition. And I think the committee recognizes that.”
“It sounds cliché to say Alabama is a real good football team, but they are. Texas A&M is a really good football team. I don’t think it’s far-fetched for them to be No. 4 in the country. Now, I would have put Washington at No. 4. I had A&M at No. 5. But (the rankings don’t say) so much about the conference. I don’t think Georgia is very good. I don’t think Tennessee ended up being what we thought they would be. When you look at the East as a whole, Kentucky is in second place in the East. They lost to Southern Miss. … And then you look at the West, who would Ole Miss beat right now? Who would Arkansas beat right now? (The rankings) are more of a reflection on (Alabama and Texas A&M). Now LSU and Auburn? The jury’s still out.”
“I assumed it was going to be the four Power 5 undefeated teams – Clemson, Alabama, Washington and Michigan in whatever order. And I kind of thought it would be Clemson at No. 2 because of its strength of schedule, Michigan at No. 3, and I just assumed Washington at No. 4. But I believe Texas A&M belonged at No. 5, ahead of Louisville and Ohio State. On the road, I did that game against Auburn, and the schedule they’ve gone through is just so much more difficult than that of Louisville and Ohio State. So I’m surprised, definitely. But I think it speaks to how much the committee respects what A&M has done, the SEC, the gauntlet of week-in and week-out (competition) and just how well they’ve played.”
“I think the committee looked at what Texas A&M did against the No. 1 team in the country, and it was highly competitive. It was 14-13. And they pushed the envelope. I think, obviously, Texas A&M made some mistakes that they wish they had a do-over on top of an opportunity. I think Washington got a little penalized because the early part of the schedule was not as good. … I actually had Washington No. 4 and Texas A&M No. 5.”