Monday, January 08, 2007

10 reasons there should not be a college football playoff...

1) How many teams? If it's four, why is it four and not eight? If it's eight, why not four? If it's eight, why not 16? Hell, why not just have 65 teams and make the regular season as utterly meaningless as college basketball's unwatchable first four months of meaninglessness?

2) Where the hell are these games being played? I'm sorry, but having neutral site playoffs is utterly lame, having better seeded teams play at home is way too advantageous to be fair in any meaningful sense, given that the differences are theoretically negligible, hence the need for the playoff.

3) How often are there 3 teams equally worthy to be in the title game? Oh sure, it's happened, Auburn got screwed a few years back, but let's face it, there's usually 2 or fewer teams who warrant being in the title game. The solution to that is certainly not playing more games. Ohio State went undefeated, no one else aside from Boise State did. Ohio State should not have to win two games to win the title, because they shouldn't have to play any of these teams.

4) How flexible will it be? Absolutely inflexible, it is the NCAA. So it doesn't work more often than not. If there's three teams, it's not a round robin, it's still going to be a final four, so a fourth team who is less worthy than the other three now gets to crash a party they weren't entitled to it. Moreover, you can't change things, because people have to be able to plan their vacations at some point, tickets have to be sold, ad time has to be sold, and even a 40 day layoff won't be enough to placate the NCAA's money-generating machine.

5) How much does this game really matter? College football teaches lots of harsh life lessons. If you lose a game, more often than not, you're screwed. That ends it for you, you're just playing to ruin everyone else's season. If there's a playoff and you lose, you just have to go out and run up the score in all subsequent games to look like a dominating team.

6) How much bias could this remove? Lose early, win late, you're going to be blessed with an inflated ranking. Win early and lose your final game...and you're done. This isn't going to change with a playoff, because a playoff is still fundamentally flawed, because voters and computers are going to elect the teams to those games, whether they warrant it or not. You're just making it be a screw up as to who the fourth or eighth team to get in is, instead of the second team.

7) Whither Boise State? The Playoff, unless it expands to eight or sixteen teams, would virtually never address the biggest weakness with the current system, which is that an undefeated team like Boise State won't ever get to test themselves against a real top team. They didn't play a 1-loss team, they didn't even play the top 2-loss team. They got relegated to playing a team who was no better than the 6th best team in the BCS (behind Ohio State, Florida, USC, Michigan, and LSU).

8) What strength of schedule? Notre Dame made the BCS. Notre Dame had one of the weakest schedules of any team on God's green earth. So how'd they get in the BCS? They have fans, they have a lucrative TV deal, and they had a preseason #1 ranking. None of these things changes with a playoff. None of them is going to have less impact on a playoff system that will be even more driven by TV ratings, since it would dispense with conference champions altogether.

9) What conference champion? Fact is, conference championships should usually mean something. It's only true mockeries like last year's FSU/Pittsburgh team that crash the BCS and make it a joke. This year, all the teams at least had some business being there, with the possible exception of Wake Forest, who at least made their game fairly even. So if we dispense with all significance to winning a conference, conferences like the SEC are harmed even more for having a hair more quality than others (not as much as the media would tell you, though, its teams still lost some bad games).

10) What about everybody else? Name one dark horse team that would have made an appearance in this college football playoff. Not Northwestern with Darnell Autry, not Boise State with Jared Zabransky/Ivan Johnson, not Utah with Alex Smith, none of these teams would have made it into a top 4 playoff. Not one of them. We lose some of college football's best sheer amusements and finest triumphs. So how are we making things less arbitrary? Sure, it has a modest gain, because teams like USC don't waltz through a soft conference to a single-game season, but if they were really all that were they going to win that title game? You can see from the last few years that USC sure lived on the lucky side by playing a weak conference and a soft non-conference prior to 2006, but the seasons they won the title games, they weren't particularly disputed. Truly dominant teams like Miami in 2002 (they played a pathetic Nebraska team with Eric Crouch and little else) shouldn't have to do it twice, because there's no one who has a right to play them to begin with. Moreover, seasons like 2001 where there are two deserving undefeated teams (Ohio State and Miami), there's no reason to add a pair of unworthy teams.