College football had been trending towards the same teams appearing in the playoffs every year. Since the four-team playoff began 14 different teams have occupied the 32 playoff spots. Here is the list of teams that have made the playoff during the eight years and how many times they have appeared.
- Alabama 7
- Clemson 6
- Ohio State, Oklahoma 4
- Georgia, Notre Dame 2
- All tied with 1. Oregon, Florida St, Michigan St, Washington, LSU, Michigan, Cincinnati
This year I talked to approximately 120 of the 131 FBS head coaches. These calls take on average an hour apiece. Last year it seemed like EVERY time I talked to a coach, I heard the same story. To paraphrase “Phil this is the DEEPEST we have EVER been. This spring we were able to run three full teams and we have never been able to do that”. Due to the new rules put in for Covid and all players being granted a free year, it meant almost every team had 17+ returning starters. I had to modify my Experience chart as due to the abnormally high numbers.
I would say 90% of the coaches told me it was their deepest most experienced team they had ever had. There were a few exceptions to the this and that was the big boys. Ohio State had just 11 returning starters and was #129 on my Experience Chart. Clemson was just #115 on my Experience Chart. Even Alabama was just #124. During my summer radio circuit, I started pointing this out on my shows and said the door was wide open for Cincinnati to break into the playoff.
What happened was the Ohio State did not even get to the Big Ten title game. Clemson did not even get to the ACC title game. Oklahoma did not even get to the Big 12 title game. Alabama lost to Texas A&M was outgained by Florida (439-331) and needed a 97-yard 10 play drive in the final two minutes (including a 4&7 conversion) just to force OT and needed 4 OT’s to beat Auburn or they would not have made the playoff. Michigan had 17 returning starters and Cincinnati had its best and deepest squad ever and both made the playoffs.
We should finally return to normal in 2022. This year Ohio State is up to #44 on the Experience Chart, Clemson is #40, heck even Alabama is up to #52. When you look at the rosters, teams like Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Georgia have clear edges in depth and talent and now that the Experience is back to a level playing field, you can expect the cream to rise back to the top this year.
I do think two teams that have never made the playoff do have a chance to make it this year. Go to this years’ magazine and check out page 164 and page 128 to find out who those teams are but overall I expect the powers to re-stake their claim in 2022.
I did get a report yesterday that said many Books-A-Million had copies of the magazine available so check those spots out along with Barnes and Nobles if you are looking for this years’ magazine.