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Auburn, Alabama could have met in Iron Bowl rematch in playoff

AJ McCarron could have gotten another shot at Auburn, but maybe not until the title game. (USATSI)
AJ McCarron could have gotten another shot at Auburn, but maybe not until the title game. (USATSI)

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Auburn and Alabama could have met in an Iron Bowl rematch had the College Football Playoff been in effect this year, CFP executive director Bill Hancock said Monday morning.

"Take just a minute to think about what an Iron Bowl rematch would be like here in Los Angeles. Wow!" Hancock said at the annual Football Writers Association of America championship game breakfast.

Using the current BCS standings, Hancock speculated on what a playoff bracket might look like with No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Michigan State and No. 2 Auburn and No. 3 Alabama.

Florida State, he said, would have been protected as the No. 1 seed and played as close to home as possible in the Sugar Bowl. In this conversation, then, Auburn and Alabama would have met in the Rose Bowl. The Rose and Sugar host the first playoff semifinals next season.

"They're [selection committee] not going to like rematches. They're going to try to not have rematches," Hancock cautioned. "On the other hand the integrity of the bracket will trump [everything]."

For now it's just speculation. Going forward, that 13-member committee will control the narrative. In other words, we won't know who those four playoff teams are or where they are seeded until the committee releases that information on Pick 'Em Day. (The Sunday following the conference championship games.)

Essentially, there won't be much of a template -- such as the BCS standings -- for public consumption. The committee is going to release a series of rankings during the season but it's not certain when or how often. The first such metric will be released somewhere around Halloween, Hancock said.

"You'll know the four when the white smoke comes out," Hancock said, alluding to the papal selection process.

More likely, the committee would have moved Alabama down to No. 4 and Michigan State up to No. 3. That would create a fairer matchup with Michigan State meeting Auburn in the Rose Bowl and Florida State playing Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

The first playoff championship game will be played at AT&T Stadium next January in Arlington, Texas.

It's unknown how an Iron Bowl would be received by the public, the teams or the coaches. Part of the reason we're on the cusp of the playoff era is the Alabama-LSU rematch a couple of years ago. While that was bonus locally – one New Orleans official said the game rivaled the Super Bowl in terms of economic impact – the game didn't register well nationally.

Heaven and earth were torn asunder Nov. 30 in what was probably the best Iron Bowl of all time. Outdoing that game might have been impossible.

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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