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Another title for the Tide; so what else is new?

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

Alabama won another college football national championship late Monday night or early Tuesday morning (depending on which time zone in which you are living) by defeating Georgia in overtime 26-23.

Another title for the Crimson Tide. So what else is new?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Alabama isn’t deserving of the national championship. Maybe it is the best team coming out of the 2017 college football season.

Also, the game turned out to be pretty decent, event though it was a contest between two teams from the Southeastern Conference. The Bulldogs led 13-0 at halftime, Bama put in a new quarterback who rallied the Tide back to a 20-20 tie in the fourth quarter.

The end of the game and overtime was a mini-series in itself. The Alabama placekicker shanked a field goal that could have won the game on the final play of regulation. The Georgia QB was sacked for a big loss in OT, but the Bulldog kicker came through with a 51-yard field goal to put the Dawgs up 23-20.

When Bama got the ball, its QB was sacked for a 16-yard loss on the first play, but then on the very next play he threw a 41-yard TD pass to give the Tide the national championship 26-23.

My beef isn’t with who won the title or who had a chance to win it. My beef is about who got left out of the chance to play for the national title in the first place.

The four teams that got the opportunity were Oklahoma (Big 12 champ), Clemson (ACC champ), Georgia (SEC champ), and Alabama, who won no league title but was awarded the No. 4 seed, anyway. Maybe it was a reward to the Tide for having to battle and defeat Mercer late in the season.

Who got left out? Ohio State, the Big Ten (14) champ. I think the Buckeyes did themselves in by that stinkeroo of a performance at Iowa, where they lost by over 30 points. Purdue went to Iowa City a couple weeks later and beat the Hawkeyes.

The Pac-12 champ also got left out of the playoffs. I’ll be honest, I don’t really remember who that was, although I think it might have been USC. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are both Power 5 conferences.

But the most egregious slight was UCF (or the University of Central Florida), who ran the table, won its conference, and defeated Auburn 34-27 in a bowl game to finish 14-0, the only undefeated  team in major college football. Yet, the Knights didn’t even get a sniff of a chance at the national championship.

In beating Auburn, Central Florida beat the only team to have defeated both Alabama and Georgia during the 2017 season. If that doesn’t speak volumes about the current set-up, nothing does.

Could UCF have defeated Alabama this season? We’ll never know, will we?

Under the current set-up, teams from some conferences don’t have a ghost of a chance for one of the four slots in the playoff from the start of the season. The remedy is simple — expand the playoffs to eight or even 16 teams.

The argument that a system with eight or 16 teams would take students away from their studies is a bunch of hogwash. The FCS teams have their 16-team playoff system right after the regular season ends (which bumps up against the end of the semester and Christmas) and no one says anything. Why can’t the CFP do the same thing?

I teach accounting at Ivy Tech (and have taught at four-year colleges and universities that play football) and believe that academics and having time to study and take tests is quite important. But the CFP can work around that.

Will the CFP expand to eight or 16 teams in the near future? Who knows? Never is a long time. But I sincerely hope it does to be a more equitable system.

And while we’re at it, I want to keep harping for the Big Ten to get rid of the East and West Divisions for football. Why should IU have to play Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State every season while not seeing some other teams in a blue moon just because of where the university is located on a map.

Everyone with an ounce of sense can see that, except for Wisconsin, the power of the conference in football year after year has been in the east, and it’s been that way for a long time. If IU had been in the west this past season,the Hoosiers almost surely would have gone bowling.

The Big 12 does not have east and west divisions for football (and look how far apart it is spread geographically) and has its conference championship game between the two schools with the best conference records. Why can’t the Big Ten (14) do the same? It’s time for a change.

Switching to high school basketball, it appears at this point that the battle for C-T Player of the Year on the girls side appears as if it will be between three players: last season’s Co-Players of the Year Payton Moore of Tri and Cameron Tabor of New Castle plus newcomer freshman Kathryn Perry of Shenandoah. The trio currently are the top three scorers in the area and do so much, both offensively and defensively, for their teams.

With last season’s boys C-T player of the Year Gavin Griggs graduating in 2017, the race, at this point, for C-T Player of the Year on the boys side appears to be between New Castle juniors Mason Gillis and Luke Bumbalough, who are the top two scorers in the area and lead, or are among the leaders, in most other statistical categories.

One can just look at Gillis and see what an imposing presence he is, and he is deserving of all the Division 1 college attention he gets.

Bumbalough, at 6-0, is not as imposing as Gillis. He’s just a tremendous athlete who seems to be very good at anything he tries. He was outstanding in football last fall, is the same in basketball this current season, and I’d bet if he wanted to play baseball this spring, he could step into Coach Brad King’s lineup and perform very well.

Last Saturday against Connersville, with Gillis hampered by fouls, Bumbalough scored one-half of New Castle’s points in the 48-37 victory over the Spartans. Bumbalough was 7-for-10 from the field and 7-of-7 from the free throw line. He also grabbed four rebounds.

Taking photos in addition to recording what I do when covering basketball games doesn’t allow me to take down all of the parameters of games, such as assists.

But I suspect Bumbalough had several of those as well.

His 20-point effort in the fourth quarter in a game at Westfield last season that the Trojans eventually won in overtime is something I’ll never forget.

I don’t have all the information on who’s recruiting who to play in college. Personally, I don’t think 6-0 is small, but it would be a shame for colleges and universities to overlook Bumbalough because he’s not a 6-6 or 6-7 point guard. I think he deserves the opportunity to show what he can do at a major college or university program.

But the season isn’t over and much more roundball is left to be played. Stay tuned.

David Risley is sports editor at The Courier-Times