Top 10 Dumb Reasons for a College Football Playoff

Lou VozzaAnalyst INovember 4, 2009

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 10:  The Louisiana State University Tigers marching band performs on the field before the game against the Florida Gators on October 10, 2009 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

10. Playoffs will ruin the importance and excitement of the regular season games

The NFL has a very inclusive playoff system, and its regular season games get much higher television ratings than college games.

The NFL's ratings advantage over college football has nothing to do with its playoff format.   College football gets lower ratings because most of its top teams are located in small TV markets like Austin, South Bend, and Columbus.  From the beginning, the NFL owners set up their league as a profit-producing enterprise and placed their teams in the largest cities, like New York and Chicago.

I know this may be hard for you to understand, but a long, long time ago, football was played just for the fun of it.

9. College football regular season games are do-or-die

Then how come a two-loss LSU team won the National Championship in 2007?

In 35 of the last 50 years, the National Champion has been undefeated. One-loss champions are the exception and LSU’s championship may end up being a singular event. Regular season college games are do-or-die relative to the NFL, where six and seven-loss teams regularly make the playoffs.

If it makes you happy, from now on I'll call it “do-or–probably die.”   Thanks a lot, Word Police.

8. In the BCS, the best teams don't play against each other

In an eight team playoff, there would be a total of seven playoff games between the "best" teams to determine the champion. During the current regular season, we usually have about that many meetings between teams ranked in the Top Eight.  After that,  the top eight teams meet again in the bowl games.

Actually, playoffs don't always ensure that the best teams play against each other.  Cinderellas regularly upset top seeds before they get a chance to meet.  Since the NCAA began seeding basketball teams in the playoffs in 1979, only once have all four No. 1 regional seeds reached the Final Four (in 2008).

7. The National Championship should be settled on the field

In most cases, the National Champion is undefeated.  When a team incurs a regular season loss, it’s knocked out of the race.  That’s when it’s settled on the field.

The BCS only stirs controversy if there aren’t two undefeated teams with credible schedules at the end of the year.  Then the system requires a beauty contest to determine which two teams play in the NC game.  It’s the sore losers of the beauty contest who agitate the most for a playoff every year.

I understand that many people get frustrated because they want to see four to eight of the top teams play an elimination tournament at the end of the season. They believe that this would crown an undisputed champion.  However, a limited four- or eight-team "mini-playoff" will not create an undisputed champion.

6. Why not? 

Just like the current two-team mini-playoff, an expanded four- or eight-team mini-playoff will remain fundamentally unfair to the 112 to 116 remaining 1-A programs.   This continuing controversy would force the system to expand to include more teams.

Playoffs are like government entitlements. Once you start them, they just keep growing and growing.

Div 1-AA football began its playoff with four teams and expanded to 16 teams within five years. Currently, its playoff includes 20 teams and is due for more expansion soon. 

Every other playoff in history has started small and expanded until it can’t expand anymore.  Considering all the money and prestige associated with 1-A football,  a mini-playoff would inevitably grow to as many as 32 teams in a very short amount of time.

5.   How about this: the six BCS conference champs, plus two wild cards. You can even keep your stupid traditional bowl and rivalry games.  It won’t interfere with the schools' academic schedules either.  

Nice try, my simple minded friend, but your system doesn't have nearly enough wild cards.   

Let’s look at an entirely possible scenario for this season.  Let’s say TCU and Boise State win their conference titles and are still ranked in the Top Eight.  You will have to pick them as your two wild cards. 

Look who you are leaving out: Florida or Alabama, and other quality teams like Oklahoma, LSU, Pittsburgh, USC, Cal, Penn State, Ohio State—all teams which are arguably as good as or better than TCU and Boise State.

All of these teams have well-connected and well-funded booster and media support systems.  Every season these powerhouse “left-outs” will band together and form organized campaigns to expand the playoffs.

Over time, they will get their way.  Once the playoff is established, it’s a simple matter to cave in to pressure and admit more teams.

4. Let's let in 16 teams in, including 10 wild cards. That should shut everybody up.

If only it were so easy, grasshopper.

You forgot about the five non-BCS conferences.  They are already steaming that their conference champions don't get automatic BCS bowl berths.  Once you create a large playoff, especially with 16 teams including all six BCS conference champions, you will have to include all the non-BCS conference champions as well. 

They will sue you if you don’t. A very credible anti-trust lawsuit is already prepared and pointed at the BCS like a loaded rifle. Besides, think about it.  Who ever heard of a league where a team can win its conference and still not qualify for the playoffs?

To accommodate them, your 16-team playoff will have to have all 11 conference champions and only five wild cards. Now you have the same wild card problem your eight-team playoff had, only worse.    

Every year, the current BCS system will look like a monument to common sense compared to your 16-team playoff, where weak conference champions like Ball State will be taking playoff spots from higher ranked second place conference finishers like USC or Alabama or Penn State.

Bottom line: a playoff won't even come close to passing the absurdity test until there are a minimum of 24 teams, with all 11 conference champions, plus 13 wild cards.

That’s why NCAA basketball, a league with a very similar structure to 1-A football, ended up expanding its tournament all the way out to 65 teams after starting with just eight teams.

3. What’s so bad about a 24-team format? I still enjoy regular season college basketball games, despite their communist playoff system where almost every team in the country participates regardless of ability.

I'm happy you enjoy those games, comrade. As a Florida football fan, I "enjoy" watching the Gators' spring scrimmage game.

But if you can't feel the difference in intensity between a regular season college football game and a regular season college basketball game, you need to get your head examined. You may have deep-seated emotional problems.

Also, to make room in the calendar for a 24 team playoff, you’re going to have to either cut the regular season in half, cancel Christmas, or move the Superbowl to March. Good luck with all of those proposals. 

And don't think I didn't notice you trashed my bowl games and rivalry games when you expanded the playoff beyond eight teams.  That was easy, wasn’t it?  

Oh, and by the way, the NBA regular season started last week. Please don’t pretend you noticed. Nobody else did.

2. The BCS process just drives me crazy. It's rarely logical or linear, and there aren't those symmetrical bracket thing-a-ma-jiggies I love to draw.

For many of us, that's the fun of it. However, if you're the type of person who keeps his desk neat and has to have his sock drawer organized, I can understand your frustration. You're kind of like the fat Microsoft guy in the Apple commercials.

1.      College football is the only sport in the entire world that doesn't have a playoff to determine its champion.

Congratulations! You finally got it. American college football is unique.

We love it for its eccentricities: the corny bowl pageantry, the rowdy student section, the silly team names, the wholesome cheerleaders, the marching bands, the color guards, the weird mascots, the inter-state rivalries and yes, the endless arguments about who is "really" the National Champion.

I'm sorry it disturbs you that there's one remaining vestige of organic American culture that hasn't been co-opted by our parasitic corporate mono-world. You're probably happy that no matter where you go, McDonald's and Starbucks are the only two restaurants left.

Now leave our bowl games and rivalry games alone!  And stop trying to turn college football's one-of-a-kind, spine tingling, do-or-probably-die regular season into one more mind numbing slog to answer the meaningless question: "Who's number 32?" 


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.