NFL Week 17: Examples Of What College Football Could Be

Joe MorganSenior Analyst IDecember 30, 2008

I consider myself an avid football fan.

I often spend weekends in the fall sitting on the couch with a remote control in my hand and a football game on TV.

However, while I love to watch football, the college game was the lone object of my affection for the sport.

Granted, the NFL is very entertaining and plays host to the best football in the world, but it used to lack intrigue for me.

I seldom watched the NFL and only checked scores in passing.

However, that has changed in recent years as the past few seasons in both college and professional football have caused me to take a more invested interest in each.

College football has been subjected to controversy surrounding the BCS rankings numerous times, especially this season with the chaos in determining the winner of the Big 12 South.

If Oklahoma, Texas, or Texas Tech, which were deadlocked in a three-way tie for first in the Big 12 South, were to defeat Missouri in the Big 12 title game, a BCS Championship Game berth was almost ensured.

However, since the Longhorns had defeated the Sooners, who had defeated the Red Raiders, who had defeated Texas, then the BCS rankings would determine the winner.

While the three teams were fairly even in the rankings, Texas Tech suffered a big blow by being the last of the trio to lose a game, a 65-21 thrashing, courtesy of Oklahoma.

By virtue of the recent blowout, it came down to Oklahoma and Texas, a matchup that favored the Longhorns thanks to their 45-35 neutral field victory over the Sooners earlier in the season.

However, the offensive juggernaut that was Oklahoma racked up several impressive blowout victories, proving to be just enough to propel the Sooners past the Longhorns into the Big 12 Championship Game.

The fallout from this result has only intensified the fervent call for a type of playoff system to determine college football's national champion.

Despite the widespread call for a playoff by fans and media alike, the conference commissioners that make up the BCS argue that a playoff would diminish the value of the exciting regular season that makes college football so great.

And that brings me to my point.

Each season, the NFL has a 12-team playoff that culminates in the Super Bowl—a game that pits the NFL’s two best teams against each other with a championship on the line.

Year after year, the NFL playoffs consistently prove to be a much better alternative to the BCS.

For example, had the NFL been run by the BCS in 2007, the New England Patriots would have faced the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XLII and possibly could have made history by finishing the year undefeated at 19-0.

Instead, thanks to a playoff, the New York Giants (who beat the Cowboys in the divisional round) proved to be the best team in the NFL by defeating the Patriots and ending their bid for perfection.

The Super Bowl, combined with both an exciting playoff and regular season, has made the NFL America’s favorite pastime.

As a result, the NFL is much more comfortable with its champion and there is little fuss about whether each legitimate contender had a shot at a championship or not.

College football, unfortunately, cannot say the same thing.

Whether it was the split National Championship between LSU and USC in 2003, the snubbing of undefeated Auburn in 2004, or this season’s Big 12 fiasco, the BCS often leaves several deserving teams no chance to prove their worth.

The fear of diminishing the excitement of the regular season comes at the cost of excluding worthy contenders from the National Championship picture.

Excitement is not tangible. A crystal football is. We live in a material world.

Is it fair that Florida is playing for the BCS Championship after losing to Ole Miss, but Penn State and USC are sitting at home for losing to Iowa and Oregon State, respectively?

It is if you are a member of the Gator Nation, but the folks at Happy Valley and the Coliseum would surely object.

The presence of a playoff in any sport does not diminish the excitement of the regular season, but rather, it only adds to it.

While I normally do not watch the NFL, I sat down and watched the Week 17 action—and I enjoyed it immensely.

Thirteen NFL teams were fighting for their playoff lives Sunday and the energy and atmosphere from each game was electric.

America saw several contenders crumble under pressure (e.g. Dallas, Denver, and Chicago) while other teams who had previously been left for dead (e.g. San Diego and Philadelphia) clinched playoff berths.

A playoff in college football would give teams the opportunity to keep pushing hard until season’s end instead of folding the tent in mid-October after only a loss or two.

Some argue that the “one and done” system for losses is better for the sport, but I would disagree.

Last season’s national champion had two losses, along with other deserving teams who were left out of the BCS title game.

And with the rapidly growing parity in college football, a situation similar to the 2007 season could rear its ugly head once again.

We simply cannot decide which two teams deserve a chance to play for the national championship when there are more than two that meet the criteria.

Leave objectivity to sports talk radio shows and bloggers.

Take it out of the process of crowning college football’s champion.

A playoff is necessary to maintain the integrity of equal opportunity.

College football is a great sport, but it has the potential to become even greater.

The NFL’s got it right—the 2007 postseason and Week 17 of the 2008 season proved that.

College football should follow suit, but it needs a little nudge.

Hopefully, the example of the NFL can provide it.


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