BCS v. Playoffs: Why MLB Is To Blame

Matt PoloniCorrespondent INovember 7, 2008

In case you hadn’t noticed, some college football fans like the idea of a college football playoff. What’s interesting is the sharp increase of coverage on the topic over the last few years.

Is the increase in coverage warranted? Most definitely.

But in past years the discussion didn’t really heat up until the later weeks of the season and was basically a filler for ESPN in the off-season.

Now it’s a year-round topic that can make a casual fan seem like Jay Mariotti on "Around The Horn." The second that someone mentions the topic, everyone nearby is jockeying for position on the soapbox.

What changed? The easiest answer is that last season’s topsy-turvy ways awakened the inner orator in all of us.

Seeing South Florida get as high as second in the country showed that parity had finally come to college football, and a playoff was the only way to choose a true national champion. It’s a compelling argument.

The problem with the argument is that there wasn’t much of a difference between the preseason rankings and final rankings. Fourteen teams appeared in both the preseason and final AP polls and eight teams that appeared in the final poll were listed under “Others Receiving Votes” in the preseason.

That leaves only three teams (Kansas, Cincinnati, and Illinois) that ended up in the top 25 at season’s end that weren’t considered for it in the preseason.

So what else could be the reason for all this?

I think it’s Major League Baseball. More specifically, how Bud Selig handled the public demand for instant replay. Let me explain.

The question of instant replay in baseball has been out there for a while now. Bud Selig continuously dismissed the idea, even after a strong majority of major league GMs said they wanted it. Then, in May, a series of blown homerun calls increased the pressure on the commissioner to do something.

Sound familiar? It is interesting to see the parallels between the situations. For those of you who aren’t sure where I’m heading yet, I’ll continue.

The media, especially ESPN, had a field day with it. Fans jumped on the bandwagon and started arguing for or against instant replay every chance they got. And then Selig caved. Instant replay was instituted before the season ended and on Sept. 4, it was used for the first time.

Some people think that it would be a good thing for college football to follow suit and institute some sort of playoff for this season. I disagree.

Bud Selig acted too quickly and ended up putting together a system that fails on many counts. Ironically, college football has the exact system that Selig wanted. All baseball needs is a replay official in the press box at every game.

Selig wanted the game to not be slowed down, so he made it so the umpires listen to the coaches’ arguments, decide whether or not to look at the replays, go inside to look at the replays, and then decide whether or not to go against their comrade’s call.

Instead of all that, a replay official could review a disputed home run while the coaches are arguing with the umpires and get a ruling down to the field very quickly.

But now, when the current replay system slows the game down, Selig will be able to say that he was right and use that faulty logic to go back to the way it was.

If college football officials were to act as Bud Selig did, they could easily make the same mistake. They may come up with some convoluted system that makes little to no sense (but slightly resembles a playoff) and, when nobody likes the system, will decide that they were right in the first place. Fans will then be as miserable as ever.

I realize that having the president-elect speak out in favor of a playoff might be enough to convince most people that it needs to happen now, but hopefully it doesn’t rush the process.

There should be a playoff system. But if college football is going to do it, they have no reason to not do it right the first time.

In the event that college football goes down the same path as Major League Baseball anyway, you know whom to blame.