NOTE: Originally written Dec. 14, 2008
I originally wrote this Nov. 7, 2007 and was reading it recently. I have decided to post this once a year until College Football gets a playoff. And to prove how INSANE the current system is, I will use my 2007 arguments for THIS (2008) CFB Season. Look for them in ().
This almost seems cliche to post a blog like this on here, but I had a conversation about this with a friend a few days ago, and I guess you can say I am inspired.
If there is one thing we know about this College Football season, it is that we know nothing at all. Top 10 teams losing is no longer an oddity, but is almost expected on a weekly basis.
If nothing else, it speaks to the parity that finally has its grasp around College Football. Parity is not only great for competition, but is great for fans of schools that would be labeled “outsiders" at the beginning of the College Football season.
Teams like USF (Utah) and Hawaii (Boise State) wouldn’t have even thought about a National Title four years ago, but now they have reason to, at the very least, believe they have a shot. That’s what makes College sports so different. Any team can beat another team at any time. It’s what fans and players live for.
But if all of this is the case, why isn’t there a system where all these schools are actually given a fair chance to play it out where it matters: the football field. The fate of the players, fans, coaches, and Universities all rely on computer calculations and what talking heads around the country “think" they know.
It’s not fair to trust the games of football to a computer, when so much of football is based on the skills possessed by humans.
There are many arguments to my point, and I will go over them one by one:
Point One: Certain Conferences are punished by having too many good teams
In many years, teams feel as if they have to go undefeated to go to the National Title game, and in many cases, they are correct. Every once and a while, teams with one loss will sneak in, but not without much scrutiny from other such one loss teams around the county.
In many instances, this kind of format is not fair to a) the team, and b) the conference. Any conference with a championship game is a perfect example. Lets have a look at a team like LSU (Alabama) for instance.
LSU (Alabama) can play the best that they possibly can and still finish with one loss overall within the conference or even undefeated (in some years). Yet, LSU (Alabama) has to face another tough opponent in the SEC title game, a game that teams from other conferences (Big Ten) don’t have to play.
Not only is this unfair to ALL the teams in the SEC, it is a huge advantage for anyone who plays and goes undefeated in the Big Ten.
A team like Ohio State (Penn State) can roll through the regular season without giving it a second thought, while LSU (Alabama) can roll through the season, then have to play another tough SEC opponent who may have already seen them once this year.
Then on top of all of that, teams in the Big Ten schedule games against MAC teams late into the year (Kent State vs OSU anyone?) (Florida vs Citadel in 2008) to make their out of conference schedule as laughable as their in-conference schedule.
The bottom line is that you are handicapping the BCS standings before the season begins, like it or not. Sure, you can say that the BCS polls will take into consideration the strength of schedule, but the Human polls will not.
The Human poll will always have a hard time not putting an undefeated team in front of a team with a loss. (Case in point, OSU and BC rising through the polls. They may not be the better than LSU or Florida, but their zero losses gives them preferential treatment.)
Point Two: The “Regular Season is just like a playoffs!" theory is bogus
People that say the regular season is just like a playoffs are really off base. What kind of football playoff brackets a Big Ten team and a MAC team? That’s like putting North Carolina or Duke in a NCAA tournament bracket playing only 7-12 seeds, while other teams are playing their 1-6 seeds.
If every conference was balanced and the out of conference schedules were competitive, a playoff wouldn’t be necessary. But the chances of that happening are slim to none.
Big schools are hesitant to play the upstart out of conference team that just may beat them, because they don’t want to lose their chance at a National Title just to make their SOS (strength of schedule) go up a few percentage points. I point back to the first two games of the season for Michigan.
People considered them marginally insane for schedule two good teams at the beginning of the season (App State (yes, they’re good) and Oregon). And because of that situation, they will be much less likely to do such things again.
A playoff in every other sport is the best teams playing each other and deciding their own fate. That is not the case in College Football, because the best teams usually don’t end up facing each other at all.
Point Three: Money plays too big a role in this decision
Bowl games are big events. They pair teams from across the country who then play for a title that means squat (Motor City Bowl Champs!...hurray?). Being a champion of a bowl game means nothing, unless you’re playing for all the marbles.
Big corporations spend millions of dollars promoting these games, and many times lobby to get teams that travel well into certain ones. BCS games are a little different, in that you were “almost" good enough to play for the National Title, but not quite.
This biggest argument I hear on TV and from people on the street is “Well, what will happen to all the sponsors of these games? Won’t they be out of some money if they implement playoff games?"
The short answer is: yes. But so what? Do college athletes get paid to go out there and perform for us? No, but a lot of people get paid to bring us coverage of such performances. And that is O.K by me.
It’s been that way for a long time. But football is a game that is decided on the field, and should stay that way. Any athlete that has ever competed in ANY sport will tell you that they would rather EARN anything rather than it being given to them because a computer and talking heads think so.
Big Corporations losing money should NEVER be a deciding factor in anything in collegiate sports! A lot of these kids won’t make it to the pros, and they know that. They are playing for the love of the game!
It is a disgrace to take away the chance for them to at least COMPETE for a National Title just because some fat cat is going to lose some money. And on the other side of the coin, it’s not like people won’t watch college playoff games! More likely, it is the opposite!
A playoff would match up more teams from different parts of the US more than bowl games ever could. Plus, there are a surplus of college and NFL stadiums for these games to be played at on a regional level.
Point Four: There would NOT be too many games in a season
People who argue that there would be too many games in a season are the only ones that have valid points. The longer you expand a season, the more risk you have for injury and the more fatigued a team becomes. I understand all that. But do ya think maybe that every team can cut one regular season “cupcake" games?
Do those games really need to be played? And if so, why not do it in a scrimmage instead of a devoting all the media coverage and resources to it? After the 2006 regular season, the Ohio State Buckeyes waited almost two months before playing their next football game...for the NATIONAL TITLE!
Are you telling me, over the course of two months, that there isn’t time to put in an eight or 12 teams playoff bracket? These teams that make it to the championship games have usually gone an extended period of time with out seeing any live action what so ever!
Is that really fair to either of those teams or the fans who have to watch the multiple Hilton Hotel Bowls or Lip Gloss Bowls?
In closing, I really think that College Football is over due for a playoffs. Not only would it increase the popularity of the sport, but it would provided the most level playing field for all college football teams in the country.
How many teams is a question that I really can’t answer, but I will say that the BCS formula could be used to determine the eight or so teams that make it to the playoffs, proving that the BCS was actually worth something.
While I am an Ohio State Buckeyes fan and have benefited from the BCS many times, I think it is time for a change. I hate watching teams that deserve a shot being snubbed year after year by a system that just isn’t fair to anyone.
Hopefully, the big wigs in college football will one day see this the way I do, and try to keep the playing field as level as possible.