Gus Malzahn has opinions on the College Football Playoff. (USATSI)
Gus Malzahn has opinions on the College Football Playoff. (USATSI)

A Public Service Announcement for anyone drawing sweeping conclusions about the college football landscape based on the 2014 College Football Playoff, be they that the Big 12 needs a conference title game, or that Ohio State is unstoppable, or that the committee's rankings are going to continue to fluctuate wildly: 

It's -- Been -- ONE -- Season!

This reminder feels necessary after Gus Malzahn's comments to ESPN on Tuesday, one seemingly in response to little more than Alabama's defeat to the Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl last New Year's:

Putting aside the cognitive dissonance of an Auburn coach trying to explain away an Alabama defeat -- give the SEC this, it's hard to say any league is more fervent when it comes to conference solidarity -- it's not difficult to come up with multiple problems with Malzahn's claim.

For starters, the SEC never had a problem taking on other conferences in bowl games before; the league's champions went 8-1 in BCS Championship Games against nonconference opponents, and an even more impressive 9-0 against the spread. If the SEC is beating itself up too badly to succeed in the postseason, it only started doing so last season.

There's also the little matter that the overwhelming majority of SEC teams schedule an annual breather into their November slates. It doesn't necessarily make those teams' schedules inherently cushier -- typically, it just means a league game is being played earlier rather than later in the season, as with Auburn's season-opener vs. Arkansas or South Carolina's vs. Texas A&M last year -- but it does mean the specific fatigue issue, well, shouldn't be an issue. Whatever the merits of their respective opponents, that Alabama enjoyed both a bye and a game vs. Western Carolina over its final six weeks while Ohio State played six consecutive Big Ten opponents means "freshness" shouldn't be an excuse.

To be fair to Malzahn, we don't have the full context of his remarks, and it's arguable that the SEC West grind really is tougher now -- thanks to the addition of Texas A&M, better coaching at the Mississippi schools, and LSU, Alabama and Auburn all operating at something approaching full throttle -- than during the bulk of the BCS era. No one's going to claim getting out of the SEC is easy. Few would claim that top-to-bottom, the SEC champion hasn't faced a tougher schedule than the Big Ten's -- or anyone's.

But until last season, the overwhelming evidence was that a team that survived the SEC was better equipped to handle its forthcoming postseason challenges, not worse. If the SEC champ surprisingly falters again in the forthcoming playoff, and maybe a third time in 2016, then Malzahn's argument could have some merit. But for now?

It's been one season. Let's see what happens next.