College Football Once Again Sorts Itself Out

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All of that arguing. All of those what-ifs. All of those blind résumés and deep dives into strength of record and defensive efficiency. Those debates over which conference has a certain je ne sais quoi and which is nothing more than a box of cupcakes. Those times Gary Barta, the College Football Playoff selection committee's front-facing voice, went on television to say things that didn't make sense. The widespread consternation of a four-team model that inherently leaves one of the five power brokers on the outside looking in. And even those desperate attempts to explain how the BCS was actually a better system for determining a national champion.

It all amounts to nothing more than moot points and misdirected energy. College football, as it tends to do so often, found its level on Saturday. In a few hours, we'll learn together the four participants in sports' most exclusive tournament. But there's no drama. It will be Michigan, who exorcized 17 years' worth of demons by eviscerating overmatched Iowa in Indianapolis. It will be Alabama, who finally looked like its old self against Georgia en route to the season's best win. It will be those Bulldogs from Athens, who previously earned the latitude to lose. It will be, against long odds, plucky and unblemished Cincinnati by virtue of a clean sheet and head-to-head win over the only other serious contender in Notre Dame.

There you have it. One can quibble with the order here. Michigan has every bit the argument to No. 1 as Alabama but history has shown its tough to penetrate the SEC shield. Luke Fickell has known from Day 1 that if his team were to get in, it would never get a better seed than the last one available.

I'm not saying I told you so. It would be excruciatingly bad television or podcasting to repeat "we'll see what happens" and "time will tell" in regards to college football's title chase. A co-host probably wouldn't appreciate that approach if there were many hours to fill. So there's no probably in playing the game week to week.

Attention. ESPN needs it and the sport needs it. Any conversation with college football's on-field product in the spotlight is beneficial to the bottom line. Just know that, more often than not, they are empty filler. Meaningless placeholders until the first Sunday in September, when the entire picture comes into focus.