The eighth national championship game in the College Football Playoff era is tonight at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Alabama will make its seventh appearance in the title contest when the Crimson Tide meets SEC rival Georgia.

Alabama has its share of fans, but do we really want to see this team soaking up the spotlight again?

Nick Saban has built a juggernaut in Tuscaloosa. You have to give the veteran coach a ton of credit for changing the program’s trajectory to an annual championship contender.

The Tide has played football since 1902. It recorded 28 10-win seasons before Saban’s arrival. Alabama produced double-digit victories for the 15th straight year in 2021.

The Tide’s last pre-Saban national title was in 1992. Saban looks for his seventh championship—and eighth title overall—against the Dawgs.

Saban’s 183 wins on the Alabama sideline only trails the great Bear Bryant, who collected 232 victories during his tenure with the Tide.

Saban and Bryant remain the only two coaches to win a SEC championship at two separate schools.

After those impressive credentials, it would still be a travesty for the sport if the Tide wins another national title tonight.

Every team feels is fighting an uphill battle against the SEC—more specifically, Alabama—before the season even starts.

Many Power Five teams recruit talented players, but Ohio State might be the only program that can rival the SEC monopoly on recruiting.

The Tide never has to worry about getting five-star players. It has to turn them away. That stranglehold begins to squeeze even tighter when Alabama plays in the final game of the year.

Cincinnati carried the mid-major flag all season until it finally became the first team in that category to sit at the big boys table. Even though they earned the right to be there, the Bearcats needed an assist from teams above them in the standings to find their way into the four-team playoff field.

Every College Football Playoff committee and its chairman have rambled on television about strength of schedule. Mid-major teams will never win that argument. They can’t because those schools can’t control the strength of their conference. Power Five teams don’t have to schedule good non-conference opponents because they face quality competition during conference play.

The Tide played Miami, in Atlanta, along with Mercer, Southern Mississippi and New Mexico State in its non-conference schedule.

How intimidating. Cincinnati faced two Power 5 teams on the road, but after the first CFP rankings came out, committee chairman Gary Barta exclaimed that the Bearcats’ win at Notre Dame was great, but who else have they played?

Cincinnati defeated SMU and Houston down the stretch, two teams that were ranked during the season. The Cougars did hold a Top 25 ranking when the two teams met in the American Athletic Conference title game.

Yet, on the final weekend of the regular season, it took 93 minutes for Cincinnati’s name to be mentioned on ESPN’s College GameDay. The Bearcats were in the playoff field that day. It wasn’t out of disrespect, but for ratings and lack of interest.

For the last eight years, analysts have talked at great length that the four best teams should always be in the playoff field. Hogwash.

We see in other sports that the best team doesn’t always win the title. The top Power Five teams are graded differently. Alabama did not advance to the SEC title game in 2018 but still garnered a playoff spot.

Four teams are not enough.

Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State will always have the best teams, which means the best recruits will navigate their way because those programs start every year with the best shot at playing for a national title.

As long as Alabama can stay away from a second loss, college football and its playoff committee will always choose the Tide.

The Bearcats could not match Alabama’s speed or the talent in the national semifinals. They hadn’t seen it all year. But what if their presence on that stage became a recurring trend and Cincinnati could be seen through the same lens as Alabama?

If the CFP expands, it could open the door for more teams. If only four came to your soiree, it would be a lame party. Let’s expand the guest list so other teams can experience the personnel prize.

It makes the significance of Cincinnati’s appearance in the field even greater. The Bearcats will seek greener pastures in the Big 12 in 2025, but If more teams had the opportunity to play for a championship, it would show recruits that they can find riches elsewhere and not have to stake a spot with the popular kids.

If it doesn’t change, Alabama will be a familiar face in that field for years to come. The Tide Invitational will be unbearable to watch if you’re not an Alabama fan.

In years past, teams needed a high-caliber signal-caller to dethrone the Tide, including Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Deshaun Watson and LSU’s Joe Burrow. Stetson Bennett hopes to guide Georgia to its first championship in 41 years tonight.

The Tide isn’t changing anytime soon. But the college football world shouldn’t turn into ‘Bama or bust.

Reach MATTHEW SPARKS at or (606) 326-2654. Follow @SparksWillFly35 on Twitter.

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