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College football’s big problem isn’t going away. The “P” word — parity — is about as foreign to the sport as a free-market system is to the NCAA.
Unless something unforeseen changes drastically — and, yes, we’re talking about the unlikelihood of the College Football Playoff expanding — it isn’t about to change.
The big three of Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson are all going to lose their starting quarterbacks to the NFL. The three will also see several other key players move on to the next level.
It is unlikely to matter.
These programs have proven over the last several years they reload despite defections. Just look at who they have waiting in the wings and how well they recruit.
Bryce Young, a gifted dual-threat quarterback, spent the year watching and learning from Mac Jones at Alabama. He’s a blue-chip prospect who was the second-ranked player in his class, a player some thought was good enough to win the job this year before Jones made that seem silly with his impressive play.
At Clemson, DJ Uiagalelei already showed his immense promise, producing six touchdowns and 781 yards passing in splitting a pair of games with Trevor Lawrence sidelined due to COVID-19. Like Young, Uiagalelei was thought of highly, as the top-rated pro-style quarterback in 2020.
The quarterback situation at Ohio State is different, likely coming down to current freshman CJ Stroud or incoming top recruit Kyle McCord, both highly regarded.
In 247Sports.com’s 2021 recruiting rankings, Alabama is first, Ohio State is second and Clemson is fourth. They were all in the top five in 2020 as well. Their backups would be stars elsewhere and usually develop into elite players by the time it is their turn.
No matter who won Monday night’s national championship game, No. 1 Alabama or No. 3 Ohio State, there wouldn’t be a new champion in the College Football Playoff. Either Alabama would claim its third title in the playoff’s seven-year history or Ohio State its second. It marked the fifth time Alabama reached the title game. Clemson has been there four times. Only six teams have reached the title game. It’s not just the little guy, the non power-conference schools, being left out. The Pac-12 hasn’t been included the last four years.
“Our postseason is as bad as there is. We have got to figure out a system that opens up opportunities,” ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said recently on the “Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin Show.”
“Like right now, the season ends Jan. 12, I can already tell you in 2021, Ohio State’s coming out of the Big 10. Clemson’s coming out of the ACC. Alabama’s coming out of the SEC.
“Who is the fourth team? Is Oklahoma going to come out of the Big 12? Maybe USC? If that’s where we are, is that right? Is that healthy for the sport when 98 or 99 percent of the participants realize they don’t have a chance before the season starts? We’ve got to look at this 2020 year and realize that we have to tweak the system for the betterment of the sport.”
The only way it seems that there will be different teams in the playoff is if it expands, as many have argued should have happened by now. This would’ve been the perfect year for it, due to the fractured nature of the season. The College Football Playoff could’ve used it as a one-time experiment to see how it worked.
Some have argued that adding teams won’t change anything, except add a few blowouts. That might be true. But more teams on the big stage could even out the playing field somewhat in terms of recruiting.
The College Football Playoff did discuss expanding for this year only, executive director Bill Hancock told The Post recently, but opted against doing so. It didn’t want to add games after the season had already begun, Hancock said.
So, the playoff produced more of the same, Alabama back in the championship game, Clemson back in the playoff, along with Ohio State and Notre Dame.
Maybe, that changes next year, if enough people in power make their voices heard and demand change. Otherwise, you can just about guarantee the same teams will return next year to decide the champion.