Thursday, October 22, 2009

College Football Playoff Objections Answered

Like Barack Obama, Orrin Hatch, and everyone, I think college football needs a playoff. The current system is preferable to the pre-BCS chaos, where the #1 and #2 teams usually didn't meet in the postseason, regularly leading to controversy. But there's tremendous room for improvement.

Apparently one of the big hurdles is integrating playoffs into the current bowl system, as the bowls themselves are powerful entrenched interests. I don't really understand why this is a problem. Why couldn't the playoff just absorb the larger bowls? If you had an 8-team playoff, that gives you 7 bowl games, maybe the Rose, Orange, Fiesta, Sugar, Cotton, Gator, and somebody. They could stick around and keep doing their thing, with the only difference being that the teams playing in the games would be automatically chosen. The smaller bowls could just keep operating along the side like they've always done. If Rutgers and NC State don't make the playoff and want to play another Papajohns.com Bowl against each other, nobody's stopping them.

If there's some problem with a large playoff, just expanding to 4 teams from the current 2 would be a major advance. In the current system, there's a solid chance that you'll end up with 3 equally deserving teams looking for the two championship game slots. Then if #2 squeaks by #1 while the left-out #3 dominates #4 in a non-championship game, there's going to be serious argument about who deserves the championship. But in the 4-team playoff, any #4 team that beats #1 and then wins another game is going to be regarded as the legitimate champion, because of its awesome late-season feats.

6 comments:

Nicholas Beaudrot said...

The bowls like picking their teams. There's frequently speculation that they pick teams to a certain extent based on their ability to draw fans. If Wisconsin plays Oregon in a playoff match in New Orleans, how many alumni would make the trip?

Dennis said...

I mean, no reason not to keep that -- bowls can pick their favorite game in the quarters or hold out for a later round.

It doesn't really solve the problem of Utah or Boise State, but it is at least better.

Shaun said...

Umm, "everyone" doesn't want a playoff. I, for instance, don't. A playoff would ultimately settle nothing. Somebody who thinks they should be in will be out or someone will win a game on a bad call - real or percieved - or, well, yada yada. Too many teams, too many variables.

Dump the BCS, forget the playoff and let college football operate the way it did for a century or so - with the old polls and interminable arguements. It's part of the beauty of the game.

Or maybe I'm just a nostalgic old cranky dude now...

big bad wolf said...

shaun, if you are a cranky old dude, so am i. the bowls work perfectly well. thirty or so schools end the year with a win, and double that and their fans have a trip at the end of the year, only a couple of which end in shreveport equivalents. and even shreveport is a change of pace.

why should the ascertaining, through an imperfect system, of the identity of the "best" college football team matter at all? more interesting and beautiful, as shaun says, and perhaps also a better life lesson, to let several teams have a claim and a million arguments bloom. imaginary national championships for each school---a goal we can support.

janinsanfran said...

Isn't arguing abut the legitimacy of the BCS one of the important national seasonal markers? I think I'd miss it.

big bad wolf said...

it depends on your age, janisfran. to me, the bcs whining, er, debate, is just a distraction from wondering how a name as amusing as the astro-bluebonnet bowl could have been abandoned.