College football got its playoff. The level of jubilation is palpable for so many college football fans and media alike. The reading is clear. Andy Staples at Sports Illustrated calls it "historic, joyous and overdue." Stewart Mandel at Sports Illustrated opts for the "finally here" tag line. Dan Wetzel at Yahoo! celebrates the end of the BCS, something his book, Death to the BCS, will certainly get credit for aiding.
Yes, Wetzel notes that the bowl system is still employed in the grand scheme of things but overall, the sport is getting what it deserves, according to so many.
Yet I'm not feeling the joy. Perhaps it is because I was never one who identified himself as the "Champion for a Playoff" the way so many of the others did. No one really celebrates receiving things they have not asked for, especially when it is something you don't think you need.
Perhaps it is my inability to see the playoff as a cure-all like so many people. The small schools just sold out access to the spotlight for more cash money. The debate will shift from number three to numbers five, six and seven. The polls and computers are being replaced by a selection committee that, as it stands now, does not have to actually watch the games.
In the end, let's just get to the meat of why there is truly no sense of satisfaction here; nothing has been improved for the people who are supposed to matter. The cash goes up for every part of the system; schools get more money than ever to throw at facilities, administrators and coaching staffs.
None of that money will be thrown towards the players.
Look, I get it Joe "I WANT A PLAYOFF A SCHOLARSHIP IS PLENTY" Fan, you could not care less about the players; as long as they shut up and go play so you can watch on your flat screen, you'll be happy. However, as someone who doesn't fall into that camp ,the pressing issue here is the idea of the scholarship gap and how, after a short pursuit, it has fallen by the wayside.
As Sporting News reported earlier this week, a $5 billion number is being kicked around as the type of massive windfall to come down the pipes to every school in the FBS division. The small schools are going to level up their cash, the big schools are going to be swimming in their own money.
So what's the hold up here?
Pay the kids the stipend. Close the scholarship gap. In all that I've read about the playoff and the joyful noises, only Monte Pool of the Mercury News has made a stink about folks forgetting the players in all of this:
That system, well established and fiercely protected, is designed to exploit the so-called student-athletes while rewarding coaches, athletic directors, bowl representatives and dozens of universities across the land.
Many of the players who put their bodies on the line to provide the college sports product still have to scrape and scrounge for sandwich money.
Some will have to borrow cars, clothes and cell phones.
Should full-cost stipends be paramount to college football supporters?
When the measure was voted down, the division was clear; poor schools couldn't afford it. Well, everyone's about to level up in cash, so what will the excuse be now? This is not a call for massive paychecks for athletes; this is a modest question for a stipend cut off the existing gaps in scholarships. The fight to not provide that relief to the players out there tearing ACLs, being concussed all while drawing the TV ratings is sad. The fact that it seems the bulk of people do not care enough to make it as pressing an issue as a playoff is a bit more disheartening.
But to be fair, I shouldn't be surprised, they're just players. It shouldn't come as a shock that people by and large do not care to champion for these guys in any respect.