This will be the sixth year of the College Football Playoff. It will be the first without Alabama, which doinked its way out of consideration this evening against Auburn in a classic Iron Bowl. The Crimson Tide were no lock to get in with a win but now stand no chance even with pure and utter chaos.
The selection committee, though it would never admit as much, is breathing a sigh of relief tonight knowing it won't have to weigh a perennial power incapable of winning its division against a less sexy conference champion.
We the consumers are also saved two weeks of talking heads debating the merits of a one-loss Bama against, say, Utah. Or Oklahoma. It won't be missed.
Nick Saban's team did not earn its way into the final four. It could not overcome the loss of Tua Tagovailoa. It couldn't get stops against either LSU or Auburn. There's a long offseason to discuss if there are some cracks showing in the foundation of Nick Saban's dynasty.
What's immediately known is that the playoff will be different this time around. Dabo Swinney, with his petty woe-is-us routine after Clemson's victory today, should slot right into that villain role, which is appropriate for a defending champ. That is if they can get by Virginia.
LSU is cemented in even with a loss to Georgia in the SEC title game. Ohio State may be in the same boat, able to withstand a stumble to Wisconsin. The fourth and final spot? Up for grabs between Utah, Oklahoma, or the winners listed above.
It's a new day in college football. Something fresh is on the horizon.