College Football Playoffs Announcer Explains Alabama Over Tennessee…(Kind of)

Tennessee Alabama

Tennessee versus Alabama from Knoxville. Photo by Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics.

Committee chairman Boo Corrigan and the 12 other members of the College Football Playoff Committee have elected to place No. 6 Alabama (10-2, 6-2 SEC) at the latest one spot ahead of No. 7 Tennessee (10 -2, 6-2 SEC) to place College Football playoff rankings on Tuesday night.

Despite the placement’s initial unpopularity in the social media world, the decision wasn’t necessarily unusual, as the AP Top 25 and USA Today coach polls also had Alabama ahead of Tennessee.

But the question still remains as to what went into that decision.

On the surface, Tennessee and Alabama have exactly the same record. Tennessee also has a 52-49 head-to-head win over the Tide, which was initially thought to be important in this type of situation. Shouldn’t that justify Tennessee over Alabama if the two teams play side-by-side?

Not quite. Corrigan explained the decision Tuesday night.

“The outlier would be Tennessee’s loss to South Carolina versus Alabama’s two narrow losses,” Corrigan said of The Jackson Sun. “That was a decisive factor there.”

Corrigan acknowledged the importance of head-to-head games but also explained the value of a full season’s work.

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Shouldn’t that also be in Tennessee’s favour? Alabama has three ranked wins this season: @ No. 20 Arkansas, vs. No. 24 Mississippi State, @ No. 11 Ole Miss. (Texas, a team that defeated Alabama, has slipped to 20th in the latest ranking. )

Alabama’s two losses went to Tennessee and LSU, two teams that have finished in the top 15 in the latest ranking.

Now let’s go a little north to Knoxville.

Tennessee had five ranked wins on the season schedule that year: No. 17 Pittsburgh, No. 20 Florida, No. 25 LSU, No. 3 Alabama, and No. 19 Kentucky.

Tennessee also has two on-season losses against Georgia and South Carolina, which finished at No. 1 and No. 19, respectively, in the most recent playoff rankings.

Thus, Tennessee lost to No. 1 and No. 19, while Alabama lost to No. 7 and No. 14 in the latest ranking. Is that really enough of a difference to downplay the head-to-head race? With two top 20 defeats, shouldn’t the head-to-head race be the deciding factor?

But to play the other side, Alabama’s two losses totaled four points. Tennessee’s two losses totaled 39 points. Is that the difference in the ranking? It seems like.

Tennessee’s place behind Alabama at No. 7 also put them squarely in a controversial position in the bowl selection process.

The idea here is that with Georgia going into the college football playoffs, Alabama is now going into the Sugar Bowl taking the highest-ranked non-playoff team from the SEC. According to Tuesday’s rankings, that’s Alabama. That also sets Tennessee up for a pretty routine place in the Orange Bowl.

Still, the No. 5 Ohio state may now throw a wrench into the situation with a possible move to the Orange Bowl and taking Tennessee’s place. The eighth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions would slide up and into the Rose Bowl court in this situation.

It is without a doubt confusing and convoluted. Rocky Top Insider’s Ryan Schumpert expertly broke down what you can find here on Wednesday.

In one way or another, though, it’s certainly been a wild 24 hours on the Tennessee football program.