College football is not a good product come playoff time. A sport propelled by fun and intrigue and the unexpected becomes mind-numbingly dull as the same protagonists and antagonists line up on the field to alternate national titles. Most central to the plot is Alabama, an inevitable and not all that interesting main character.
They engender neither support or hate. They exist in a no man's land that they populate with national titles. Nick Saban, the best to ever do it, is neither bombastic enough to be hated nor gregarious enough to build a coalition of fans. He essentially runs three-year NFL training camps for the most talented One Percent.
To root for Alabama as a neutral observer is like rooting for a big bank. There's no joy or honor in it.
Expanding the tournament to eight teams would not yield more diverse winners. It would provide Alabama another chance to clown on an outclassed opponent. Short of rooting for Dabo Swinney and Clemson — an unenviable route — I am not entirely sure what can be done here to improve the sport's championship season.
Through the years we've learned to lean in a bit and enjoy Saban's mastery. A never-ending stable of game-breaking running backs and wide receivers has aided that journey a little. But even that window dressing can't fully obscure that fact that the ruthless efficiency is boring.
If there were any lingering doubts who the greatest college football coach to ever chew gum was, a seventh crown in 16 years erased them. Every player recruited to play in Tuscaloosa who stayed four years since his arrival has won at least one national crown, a simply unbelievable yet entirely believable note.
Why wouldn't he continue to get the best players and get the very best out of them? Look at the recruiting pitch he was giving just a few minutes after securing No. 7. How do you rebut his plain truths if you're a coach trying to compete?
This is where we end up the second Tuesday of every January. Respectful and impressed by Saban's accomplishments. But so unfulfilled. With the realization that, for another year, The Bachelor was on the big television and a title game blowout was relegated to the laptop. Energy to hate or love the predictability of Alabama in the rearview window.