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  • Connor Hibbett

Why all the Chaos in College Football This Year?

Why are we having so much chaos this College Football (CFB) season? One can never anticipate upsets of this quantity nor to the degree that we have experienced.

Clemson already with two losses? Might I remind you we are entering the second week of October?

Alabama with (only) a two-point win in Gainesville against a Florida team in transition?

Ohio State with its first regular season loss (at home nonetheless) under Ryan Day against an Oregon team who just lost to a Stanford program in a rebuild?

Oh, and Oklahoma, who some pegged as the best team coming into the season, who has yet to beat an FBS opponent by more than one possession?

This is madness. This is March Madness CFB addition as some have said.

But why? Why are all the “typical elites” not looking as “invincible” all in the same season? Two things that could explain some of what we are seeing. The super senior factor and a 2020 CFB season that gave us a misrepresentation of how good or bad teams truly were during the COVID-19 filled season.

The Super Senior Factor

First, let us establish a precedent, “super seniors” are players that were already seniors last year but received an extra year of eligibility because of the Pandemic. Meaning, regardless of a player’s on the field status or eligibility entering the 2020 season, they get to return for another year.

So, what do all these “super seniors” mean for CFB this year? Well, obviously, it means the “experience” factor throughout the country has increased. Perhaps this is why we are seeing a lot of heavy underdogs cover spreads because they have a lot of players who “know what to do.”

But maybe this widespread experience is influencing the “typical elites” (Alabama, Clemson, Ohio state, Oklahoma) to not look as unbeatable.

How might you ask? Every season, those four teams put a bunch of guys into the pros and enter the upcoming season with “questions.” And, in most years, most of the other schools have “questions” because of the guys who graduated from the previous year’s team.

So, every team is on the same playing field (pun intended) and has questions coming into the respective season. But what happens when the four “elites” still must replace a bunch of talent with “inexperienced” talent and every other team gets to bring back almost every contributor from the previous season? You would not go out on a limb and forecast such madness, but it could mean that the elites will not have as easy of a time winning their games as they usually do.

A True Misrepresentation

2020 was, well, 2020. A year filled with unprecedented circumstances that led to a lot of hypersensitivity among society and uncertainty to the degree of not knowing if we would even have a CFB season. We got one, but as I said in my 2021 CFB preview, it was like an elementary school party. We had a party, but it was not as fun as we were hoping for.

Contact tracing, game postponements and cancellations, limited to no fan capacity, schedule uncertainty, and no offseason (games are won in the offseason). How can you truly get a good grasp of any team in a tumultuous season like we had last fall?

So, what does last fall have to do with all the “upsets” we are seeing this fall?

Any preseason rankings are going to be based on what happened last year. Commonly known as “recency bias.”

Basing a current season’s rankings off a previous year’s results is one of my biggest pet peeves in all of sports. One would think that considering everyone has most of their production coming back - thanks to the super senior factor – that last year would be a good indicator of what would happen this year but that is a false assumption.

Because of contact tracing knocking players out of games at various times, different start times from different conferences and games being postponed on a regular basis it was impossible to consider 2020 a fair assumption of how good or bad any team was therefore making it more difficult to predict a team’s win total for 2021.

So, it is conceivable that a lot of the results that are currently being viewed as “upsets” may not be viewed as upsets at the end of the season.

And as far as the elites go with Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma. While they may not be invincible this season, please do not go as far to say that their dynasties are dead.

We are just in a season for the ages with the super senior factor and the ripple effects from 2020 causing chaos.

When a disaster happens, it does not just occur – there are a series of events that lead up to the disaster. In the same way, anytime there is something out of the ordinary happening, there are likely one or more reasons that have something to do with it.

But this will not become the...…new normal.

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