Onward Goes the College Football Tournament Debate

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Onward Goes the College Football Tournament Debate
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Recently, I joined Bleacher Report and read an article about the potential of having an NCAA football tournament for the top teams each year.  The writer advocated a large tournament like the one that currently exists in college basketball.  The writer even suggested having another concurrent tournament for a lesser crop of teams. 

There was also the obligatory mention of this year's alleged BCS Championship game "snubs"—referring to teams such as Texas and Utah being excluded by seemingly slim margins.  This writer also made a passing negative remark about Tim Tebow.

So, if your complaint was narrow victories and last-second plays keeping teams out, what happens if Michael Crabtree and the Raiders do the same thing to the Longhorns in a playoff game?  Texas would be out in the cold, just like this year. 

In truth, Texas was lucky to even be in that game against Tech.  TTU had annihilated Texas in the first half—in the way that the Pittsburgh Steelers would annihilate the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (only that hilarious red gumdrop thing would be left standing).  Texas got its shot, and missed.

I don't understand your two-tourney idea.  Are you suggesting something analogous to the NCAA and NIT tournaments in basketball?  I like that idea on paper, with so many teams getting a title shot, but it can't really work. 

There just aren't enough weeks to cram in that many rounds of a football tournament.  In basketball, they can play every other night.  In football, the tremendous physical toll that the game takes on the players is too much to responsibly ask them to play any more frequently than once a week.  After all, these are still kids we're talking about.

An eight-team playoff seems to make the most sense, logistically.  It could possibly be stretched—perhaps to 10 teams with two first-round "wild card play-in" games—but honestly, does it really need to be any bigger than eight teams anyway?  In any given year, are there really more than eight teams that have legitimate potential to be the very best team in the country?  No. 

So, since we can't do a giant basketball-style tournament to be absolutely sure of snagging the right teams, what we need is a better way of determining who deserves a shot. 

The BCS has audited and updated itself every year and has done an excellent job (given the circumstances).  If we give them a larger target to hit (as in: "give us the eight best teams" instead of: "give us the two best teams") then we should be much farther along toward the most fairly crowned national champions each year.

There's no perfect system.  We will always have deserving teams missing out and undeserving teams getting in.  That's sports.  That's also what makes it exciting. 

It's exciting when it goes wrong (such as Nebraska getting a national championship it clearly did not deserve—Michigan was better than everybody that year), and it's exciting when it goes right (such as the SEC champions winning the last three national championships after surviving that brutal gauntlet of a conference).

One final thought: Tebow was the best player in the country each of the last two years, and Jason White...I mean Sam Bradford...was not better.  Tim Tebow earned everything he got, and his team was quite simply the best. 

The Big 12 had some great quarterback performances in 2008, but each of them was set in motion by an offensive system that produces great quarterback performances regularly.  Those systems, combined with league defenses that were horrible compared to the SEC, created some deceptively impressive offensive numbers. 

To bring it back to Tebow, though...if I were starting a team and I had one pick, I'd pick Tim Tebow.  I don't care if it's a football team, a sales team, a space exploration team, or a Teemu Selanne.  Tim Tebow is a superhero.

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