A short time ago, the NCAA announced the lineup of the four-team college playoff for this season's National Championship. The leadup to this revelation was the topic of much discussion. The playoffs only accommodate the current top four teams in the nation, and strong arguments could be made for at least five teams. Someone was going to be left out and be very understandably upset. Turns out the aggrieved team was to be the Florida State Seminoles, who earned an undefeated record and the ACC Championship. (An interesting personal note: I've met FSU AD Michael Alford, who is a friend of a friend. I totally sympathize with his feelings right now.) Ahead of them were the Michigan Wolverines, Washington Huskies, Texas Longhorns, and Alabama Crimson Tide. Much will be written of the reasoning of the 13 member selection committee, but as they say, the decision of the committee is final. So on New Years Day, Michigan will play Alabama in the Rose Bowl, then Washington will face Texas in the Sugar Bowl. Winners of those games will face each other in the National Championship game in Houston on January 8, 2024.
The Rose Bowl is of interest to me, due to my connection to both teams. In the mid 1990s I was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and retain an affinity for the team. But as I have lived in Alabama for 30 years, I've adopted an alliance with the Crimson Tide. I don't have a direct connection to the school (much like all those "sidewalk fans" who never were students there), but I've always called myself a "fan-in-law", via members of my extended family who were students in Tuscaloosa. My wife is the same, even more so. So for the next couple of weeks, I will be even more isolated than usual. As a sensible, intelligent political moderate and social liberal in Alabama, I can feel quite lonely at times. In my daily life, I rarely encounter anyone who shares my views on...well, anything. You try being a scientist in a conservative state. So until New Years, I am really on my own. Once that game is over, I can go back to being a mere political and social outcast. Go Blue.