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Sunday, January 6, 2019

||: Alabama-Clemson :||

I hope the band staff don't pop those off after every season.
Monday night, Alabama and Clemson will play for a championship.

Again.

For the third time in the past four years, Alabama and Clemson will compete for major college football's crown, the streak of title game matchups only interrupted last year when they met in a semifinal instead. In the week since the game has been inked (or for many, the month since the playoff selections were made) many the question has been asked: Is the continued dominance of Alabama and Clemson bad for the sport of college football?

If you believe college football exists solely to setup the climax that is the championship game, then perhaps things are getting a little stale. But if you consider college football in its totality the greatest sport on the planet for the entire season, then an admittedly repetitive championship game is but one - what's that term the playoff committee likes to use? Data point.

For what it's worth, I hail from a school who has never had so much of a sniff at the national championship picture, save for one week in 2007, so its value as currency may be a bit lost on me. But other than Bama or Clemson potentially icing your team out of competition, what is there to be upset about? If you believe the championship exists to match the two best teams, mission accomplished. We're likely to be rewarded with a well played, competitive game on Monday. The system worked as it should have, and that fact doesn't diminish the enjoyability of the season on the way there.

If the championship game hurts anything, it's itself.

Ticket prices, on the original and secondary markets, are reportedly way down, but there are any number of potential contributing factors, some related to Bama and Clemson's dominance. First: If you're either fanbase, following your team has gotten expensive. You've had at least one playoff commitment each year - two if you're Alabama - in the past four. In each case, you've been there before, and there's no reason to doubt you've got a decent shot at returning. Santa Clara is the least accessible for two schools in the Southeast of any of the playoff sites before or to come, so if there were a year to skip, this is it. The location doesn't do the casual fan many favors either: It kicks at 5pm local time, a challenge for anyone, much less in Bay area traffic. Levi's Stadium is a smooth 45 minutes from San Francisco and Oakland each without compounding traffic.

As for the television audience, again, I expect only casuals will drop off. Clemson-Alabama has been a touring heavyweight fight, and at least as far as title games go, this is the rubber match. I have a feeling most fans of the sport will be tuning in.
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