Saban still takes issue with 2022 playoff decision leaving Tide out four-team field

12/26/22 MFB Sugar Bowl day 1 Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban Photo by Kent Gidley

By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Peyton Davis

University of Alabama football head coach Nick Saban made an appearance on Fox Sports’ Joel Klatt Show over the weekend, once again expressing his disappointment with the way the College Football Playoff Committee in 2022 settled on the four team field of Georgia, Michigan, TCU and Ohio State.

“All we do is take the teams that win the most games at the end of the year, put them in the playoffs. But do you really get the best teams? When they told me we would be favored against three out of the four teams that got in the playoff, I’m like, ‘Why aren’t we in the playoffs?’ ” Saban told Klatt.

The Crimson Tide finished the 2022 season at 11-2, with a blowout victory in the Sugar Bowl against Big 12 champion Kansas State, which beat TCU 45-20 in the Big 12 Championship.

Kansas State’s resume following the regular season was 10-2, with its best victories on the road at Texas, Arkansas and Ole Miss and beating Mississippi State at home. That data omits that each of those teams had poor finishes to their regular season.

Alabama’s losses were on the road against Top-10 teams Tennessee and LSU, and both games were decided on the final play.

The committee settled on TCU because its only loss was in its conference championship, which Alabama did not appear in, and Ohio State because it only had one loss despite not appearing in its conference championship.

“Does that mean they have a better team?” Saban said. “Or does it mean that those people don’t know what they’re talking about? I really don’t know that. But I’m not being critical of anybody. But if you’re going to have parity, you have to have a better way of figuring out who has the best teams, not just because you lose two games on the last play of the game.”

The committee’s third-ranked team, TCU, was coming off a loss against Kansas State, but they were kept in third, where they were ranked the week before conference championships.

Additionally, the committee gave TCU a break by matching it against Michigan over Georgia in the first playoffs round. An ugly but fairly entertaining game in the Fiesta Bowl against Michigan featured TCU nearly blowing an 18- and 19-point lead as the two teams combined for six turnovers an nearly 100 points with a final score of 51-45.

This led to TCU’s National Championship matchup against the Georgia Bulldogs, which ended in a final score of 65-7. The game wound up the lowest-rated National Championship in the BCS/CFP era.

There is no doubt the Horned Frogs were deserving of its spot in the College Football Playoffs, but in hindsight, Georgia was the better pick in the first round.

Ohio State as the fourth team is where this conversation gets a lot more interesting, because of the way its 2022 regular season panned out. Its 11-1 record featured a single ranked win on the road against Penn State. Its final game of the regular season was against Michigan, with this past year’s installment being at the Horseshoe in Columbus. Ohio State was widely viewed as the better team and was an 8.5 point favorite, but wound up outscored 28-3 in the second half en route to a 45-23 victory for the Wolverines.

If Alabama were able to squeak by Tennessee or LSU, the Tide would have gotten the nod over Ohio State, even if Bama lost to Georgia in the SEC Championship. But with a Top 15 road win, Ohio State got the nod.

The Buckeyes solidified their spot in the playoffs by going the distance with Georgia, losing 42-41, and missing a game-winning 50-yard field goal.

All of these considerations are out the window beginning in 2024 when the playoffs expand to 12 teams, but it’s still interesting to look at last year’s scenario. It’s hard to make a case for Alabama’s 2022 performance, but a blowout victory against Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl for the Tide while TCU got a historic beatdown in the National Championship confirms TCU isn’t quite on Alabama’s level.

Categories: Alabama, College Sports