Good morning, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.
Welp, we're getting another Georgia-Alabama national title game.
If that sounds familiar, well, it's because it is. This is a direct rematch of the 2017-2018 national title game (Alabama won that one, 26-23 in OT). It'll be Georgia's second championship game appearance, and Alabama's sixth, which is pretty insane, considering this will only be the 8th national championship game in the Playoff era.
The SEC has placed a team in the national title game every year but one, Ohio State's 2014 win over Oregon. They've placed at least one team in every playoff field, and placed two teams in the field twice. Their dominance easily outpaces that of every other league put together.
When you consider geographic disparity, well, things look even more one-sided. Ohio State isn't just the only northern team to win a national title in this era, they're the only team to have won a playoff GAME since 2014. Washington, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Michigan and Michigan State have all earned bids, and all been summarily dismissed in their opening games. Oklahoma is 0-4 in the Playoff.
There's no doubt about it. The national championship hasn't been close to national. These games have been absolutely dominated by teams in the southeastern US.
You don't need to be Encyclopedia Brown to know why that is. Those teams spend the most money and recruit the best players
College football talent isn't uniformly distributed across the country. While there are quality prep players everywhere, the best are most likely to be found in the South, specifically in Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Georgia. There are pockets of great talent in California, Washington, Utah, Ohio, Maryland and elsewhere, but when you need a blue-chipper, and especially a blue-chip lineman, the best of the best are usually in SEC/Clemson country.
The major programs in that footprint care about football, spend gobs of money, and take recruiting very seriously. Academic research shows us that new facility spending doesn't have much of an impact on recruiting rankings, (bad news for Big Ten schools), but other factors, like distance, relationships with coaches, playing time, and pathway to the pros all do. If southern schools can spend enough to hire the best coaches, produce the best path to the NFL, all while being just a few hour drive from ol' Mom and Dad, well, they're going to have an easier time getting better talent than Nebraska, Boston College or Oregon.
More than any other single variable, talent acquisition is the most important factor to winning a national title in college football. It isn't the only significant factor, but it is one you cannot live without if you want to win a title. You know what you call a college football team with elite coaching, elite talent development, elite culture, but less than elite talent? Citrus Bowl champions.