Sports Today: Yep, Alabama making the College Football Playoff still smells funny

  • Marcus Hartman
11:53 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 Journal-News Sports
TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 8: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide speaks to members of the media during the College Football Playoff National Championship Head Coaches Press Conference on January 8, 2017 at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

I’m ready to move on from the College Football Playoff debate because what’s done is done, but I still found these comments interesting. 

The Centerville legend has been knocked for trying too hard not to be an Ohio State homer before, but I think he was genuine here. 

He basically concluded Alabama is better because the Buckeyes didn’t have an easier time putting away Wisconsin. 

That’s not unreasonable, but it’s not really fair, either. 

First of all, the Badgers were at a talent deficit, but they are still a tough out. That’s how they get to 12-0 and why they have such a good record overall in recent years. 

Second of all, Alabama might have struggled with Georgia if it had actually been playing. 

I said up front I didn’t believe Ohio State got a raw deal because the Buckeyes put themselves in position to be passed up… but man is the pick of Alabama ever more distasteful the more I think about it. 

The Crimson Tide getting in by default just rubs me the wrong way.

Even if Alabama proves to be one of the four best teams, it stinks in general because there is no reliable way to determine that at this point and Nick Saban’s team accomplished almost literally nothing on the field in 2016. 

Alabama didn’t beat either of the teams that won divisions in the SEC, and that league was nothing to brag about this season. It has become like the ACC used to be — full of talented players but light on good teams because of a coaching drain. 

The ACC is the best conference now thanks to better leadership, but we’ll see how that evolves with some change in both leagues... 

Ohio State trailed by 20 late in the first half but dominated the second to improve to an improbable 2-0 in the Big Ten. 

The inconsistent Buckeyes showed good poise late in the second half as the game remained close, and they ended up committing only 10 turnovers. 

It remains to be seen how good the Wolverines or Wisconsin (whom the Buckeyes blew out Saturday night) will be, but I suspect there are going to be a lot of toss-up games in the Big Ten this year… 

We talked to Grant, Jalen Crutcher and Josh Cunningham for a few minutes before practice (full recap here) and the takeaway was not surprising: This season is going to be a long process of getting to know each other. 

Jalen Crutcher taking ownership of the team could mean more growing pains but also an accelerated learning curve for the Flyers, who could be pretty formidable if they can take care of the ball and stay out of foul trouble. 

Unfortunately, it seems like there is no magic formula for making either of those things happen. 

Grant said there is no common thread with the consistent foul trouble, and he pointed out a large percentage of the turnovers came outside of the offense… 

The former Bengals quarterback seems to be seeing a lot of the same things those of us around Ohio have been: A situation that has gotten stale. 

“You’d love to see a new-found energy around this team because that’s what it’s going to end up taking.” 

The lefty expressed a belief Dalton is good enough to be a winner in the NFL but mentioned something else that I’ve wondered about before. 

“I think Andy gets down on himself, that’s just me watching from afar. I just want to shake him and say, ‘You’re better than this. You’re a good player. You should be the leader of this team. This should be your team, there should be no questions about that. You have to assume that mantle.” 

I have to wonder: If that didn’t happen this year, when will it? 

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