Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Playoffs? Playoffs!?!

I don't believe a playoff is the proper way for college football to go. I've made no bones about that. In fact, I don't particularly care for the BCS, which is just a two team playoff. However, there is an argument against a playoff that I just cannot get my head around: The Super Bowl (again) proves that a playoff isn't a legit way to name a champion.

Of course, it is. Unless you have to name the best team champion using the Super Bowl. Mike in Valdosta's post (linked above) got me thinking about that. A playoff is a legit way to name a champion. In my mind, though, it isn't any more legit than naming a champion based on what people think, at least in the context of college football. The problem with a college football playoff, as opposed to a pro football playoff, is the number of teams in the tournament and how those teams are chosen. You think there is stupidity now? Wait until some committee somewhere decides Notre Dame's 9-3 is good enough for a 16 team playoff, but Oklahoma's 10-2 isn't. Oh, well, we'll just go to 32 teams. Cool, then an 8-4 Georgia gets in, but 10-3 Houston doesn't. Shoulda won that CUSA conf championship game, you know!

With 32 teams in the NFL, the regular season is a play in tournament of sorts. Not a very efficient one, but it is still a tournament. You expand that to120 teams in Division I, without uniform scheduling or standards, then you have teams that are, by their scheduling, able to game the tournament. Some teams are forced to do so by virtue of their conference affiliation. Without some human or other interdiction, there will be no way to decide which teams are worthy of a playoff, which is another way of saying worthy of competing for the championship, unless we go to a super divsion format in college football. That would be an abomination, at least in my opinion.

For the uninitiated, a super division format calls for teams to be divided into an equal number of easily divisible conferences, much like the NFL (8-10 teams per conference, with 8, 10, or 12 conferences would work). Only the teams in those conferences can compete for the national championship. Only the conference champions (for now) get into the playoffs. Not in a conference? Go pound sand. In effect, college football would be junior league NFL, in prettier venues and with prettier female fans.

No thank you.

To me, the only argument playoff proponents have given is that we don't have a true national champion, meaning one and only one with an argument that they are the champion. I don't get it, and I don't see how a playoff in college football would name the champion, absent a major overhaul of how the college football firmament looks. I don't believe a playoff is the proper way for college football to go. However, using the Saints' victory in the Super Bowl as an argument against a college football playoff is non-sense, if the argument is that a playoff has to find the champion, meaning the best team this season. The Steelers, the football Giants and the Ravens all scoff at that notion. Playoffs don't have to find the champion, right? Just a champion is fine.

That seems to be the true argument of playoff proponents. Just name one team champion so we don't have to discuss it.


  1. http://theugablog.blogspot.com/2010/01/college-footballs-championthe-coleman.html

    What say you?

  2. Exile, you are right, there is no need for us fans to have a championship. But they players play for championships.

    Every other NCAA athlete is given the opportunity from game one of their season to compete for a championship. That is, except for D-1 football players.

    There shot can be compromised by pre-season polling. That is right, sportswriters and rival coaches can put a cap on a teams success via a vote.

    That is not athletic competition, that is a talent show or beauty pageant, some sort of exhibition that begins the voting before the contestants have even showed up.

    I respect that you, and many others, do not have a burning need to crown a legit national champion. That is fair enough, but they are naming a national champ and as long as they do, the process should not be subjective.

    Thank God conference championships are not decided in such a manner.

  3. Mike,

    I freely admit that I am only a fan, and will freely admit that I bring only a fan's perspective. However, ask a 2003 LSU player or a 2003 SC player and both will tell you he played on a national championship team. Both are right.

    Conference championships (with the exception of the Big Ten) are the perfect tournament. All play roughly equal schedules, with a game to decide a champion.

    Now, if we want to talk about getting rid of preseason polls? I am all in.

  4. I totally agree. I preferred the old systems in that theoretically everyone was a candidate. The voters were not forced to vote a team #1 which is exactly how the BCS does it with the coaches votes.

    Fundamentally, 120 is too many. Sad to say, but that number will grow, not shrink.

    But hey, I have never seen a brick wall without wanting to pound my forehead into it. ;-)

  5. Andy,

    I think your system, this year, may have gotten as close as a 16 playoff could to giving a result that opponents could say ok, it might work and proponents would say Yay! However, it still rewards a team (Troy) that has no business in a playoff for a national championship. Sorry to be that blunt, but that is just the way I see it.

    The NCAA basketball tourney is at 64 teams and looking at going to 96 in order to ensure all teams that 'deserve' to play for the champoinship do. Even now, that 64 team bracket is filled out with 30+ teams that are decided on by subjectivity and computers. It is my belief that any playoff will result in at least 24 teams and probably 32 teams playing in it. That is five more games for two teams.

    You think Florida schedules light now? Wait until Urban pitches the idea to his AD that to win a national championship, you have to only make a tournament with 9 wins. Steady diet of College of Charleston. That, as a fan, isn't good.