There had already been movement toward tearing up the unpopular Bowl Championship Series, but the all-Southeastern Conference championship game was the final blow. The College Football Playoff was created soon after.
On Sunday, the field for the fourth College Football Playoff was set and for the first time two teams from the same conference made it. Alabama (11-1) will face Clemson (12-1) in the Sugar Bowl and fellow SEC member Georgia (12-1) will play Oklahoma (12-1) in the Rose Bowl.
Another all-SEC championship game could be on the horizon, and for the second straight year the value of a conference championship was diminished. Unlike in 2012, though, the winds of change are not picking up — even with both the Big Ten and Pac-12 sitting out this playoff altogether.
When Alabama got the nod for the fourth and final spot over Ohio State, the Big Ten was left out for the first time — and for the second time in four seasons the Pac-12 was shut out, too. When the conference commissioners were putting the playoff together, ensuring only conference champions would be included was considered. Eventually, the compromise was to craft a protocol that emphasized conference championships, but not make them mandatory.
The Tide had been more consistent and lost just once. The Buckeyes lost twice, including an embarrassing 31-point loss at unranked Iowa, but have the more impressive set of victories. Ohio State won the Big Ten while Alabama did not even win its SEC division.
The committee rolled with the Tide and stayed on the task of choosing the best teams, regardless of conference affiliation. For the second straight season a team that did not win its conference is in the playoff. Ohio State did it last year.