Answering a Question With Another Question

>> Monday

I'm admittedly not really much of a college football fan - regardless of whatever you say about the passion and the purity of amateur sports, you won't convince me - the pros are better athletes, plain and simple. The chance to watch Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, LT and the rest of the otherworldly superstars in the NFL will always trump seeing 10 slapdick future grocery clerks and one superstar play in a 56-3 rout of Alabama-Birmingham. But hey, that's just me.

Despite that, I've probably watched more college football this year than during recent seasons, and it's pretty obvious why. This college football season has been the most exciting in a long time, provided you're not a huge fan of the traditional powers like USC, ND, LSU or Florida (although if you follow the Gators, you'll get a consolation Heisman out of it, so don't worry too much).

The 2007 installment has had the excitement and feeligns of arbitrariness usually relegated to college basketball, starting with Appalachian State's shocker at Michigan Stadium. Over the following months, we got to witness Ohio State's persistent falling ass-backwards into title contention, USC's failure to play up to its talent, LSU providing proof that the SEC has more parity than any other conference in the country and the constant hilarity that was Notre Dame.

All the shocking upsets and constant shuffling amongst the top 10 left me with one question - Did this season's unpredictability prove that college football doesn't need a playoff? I've heard the argument (most recently from Dan Shanoff) that the college football season basically is a playoff, because the top teams will ultimately play in enough tough conference games (and hopefully at least one tough non-conference game) to really legitimate their stake at a national title.

Or, is the opposite true? Did this season only just serve to ultimately give us a lousy national championship with two teams who just basically managed to play a weak enough schedule that they weren't tested at the right time. Ohio State seems like the perfect argument for this. I mean, if you were to really think of the two best teams in the country, I don't think there's any way you'd put OSU in the top three. Maybe the top five, but that's probably a stretch, because I still don't think they match up to Mizzou, WVA, LSU or even Florida and USC. Isn't that as good an argument as any for having a playoff system to weed out lucky pretenders from the national championship game? In the completely made-up tournament in my head, I see OSU losing in the semis to a team like Georgia or even Arkansas.

Of course, tangentally related to this is the question of conference championships. After a completely dream season, Missouri could get totally screwed by having to play a really tough Oklahoma team in the Big 12 championship, while Ohio State gets to sit home and root for the Sooners. My completely uninformed opinion is simple - either all the BCS conferences should have one or none of them should.

I'm not nearly expert enough on the politics or machinery of college sports to offer anything close to an answer on this. I'm only curious to know what people think - has this college football season answered, in any way, the debate over the current BCS system? If you're interested enough, feel free to write up an opinion and email us, and I'll post it as its own item (


Mike 9:02 AM  

The problem with a lot of conferences is that everyone doesn't play everyone. I think only the Big East and Pac 10 have this among the BCS conferences.

For example, Missouri's number one, but would they be if they had to make a trip to Austin this year? Maybe, but maybe not. (The Tigers did not play Texas).

The year Northwestern went to the Rose Bowl years back, they didn't have to play Ohio State.

Tennessee didn't have to play LSU or Auburn in the regular season this year. Might a trip to Baton Rouge have put Georgia in the SEC title game instead of the Vols?

I think as long as you have patsy nonconference schedules (Tennessee comes to mind.) and conferences where some teams may never seen each other after media day, you're going to have disputed titles.

I want playoffs. That's just me.

Patrick 10:47 AM  

Tennesse did have to play at Cal to start the season and why would you want to play top-tier teams non conference when your conference is in itself the best conference in college football? WHile they didn't have to play Auburn or LSU, they did have to play Florida, Georgia, etc. Also, if Missouri had to play Texas, they likely would have beaten the shit out of the Longhorns (no pass defense).

Yes Ohio State may back into the title game with a light body of work, but as long as West Virginia and Missouri take care of business, they are playing for the title. The same happens in the NCAA tournament when a team like North Carolina gets to play a cinderella like George Mason in the Final Four (I'm not exactly sure who drew G. Mason that year) and say Florida has to play UCLA. Just because there is a tournament doesn't necessarily mean the best team will win it all...Villanova over Georgetown?

This season clearly shows that there doesn't need to be a playoff system. If you want to play for the title, then you better win your games, plain and simple.

Anonymous,  5:15 PM  


There are some ideas in sports that I think "if things had always been the way I wanted, and someone proposed changing them to the way they are in the real world, would everyone laugh at them?". For example "I know we've always had the DH, but let's make the guy who hits .100 bat 3 times a game!" or "I know we've always had touchdowns count for 7 points, but let's have them count for 6 and then make the team kick an absurdly easy field goal to get that last point!", both those ideas would draw laughter. Likewise "I know we've always had a playoff, but let's have the teams play in silly bowl games and try to guess a two team playoff field based off less evidence of quality than leagues that have a 16 team playoff field".
To rip off an idea ESPN had a few years ago(which demonstrated a good point), we'll pretend for a second that the NFL has bowl games. I know the NFL season isn't finished but we're 11 games in which is what the college teams used to play.
Los Angeles Bowl-Chargers vs Packers
this game would be played on New Years Day and is the premiere bowl, therefore it can draw in the warm fuzzy story of the Packers. But at the same time, we need to sell tickets, so let's give the other spot to the local team that won their division to ensure a high ticket sale. Local team plus cheeseheads equals high ticket sales!(plus an inferior game)
Miami Bowl-Buccaneers vs Colts
Another prestigious bowl so they can pull in the big names. The commercials sell Manning vs Garcia(that's a matchup?) and postulate whether the Bucs will win due to their slightly closer to homefield advantage(they won't).
Arizona Bowl- Cowboys vs Jaguars
The popular team vs the team that finished strong, might be a good game if it meant the slightest. On the whole this will be like every great college bowl matchup I've seen, awesome game but what's the point of it all?
New Orleans Bowl-Giants vs Seahawks
the bowl that pulls last gets the dregs. While no good matchups are left for them(and they are obligated by the NCAA to take a division winner that finished in the top 12 of the BCS(a la Hawaii) this poor bowl is stuck with the sorry Seahawks. So let's try to save the ratings by grabbing a team that might not be the best but plays in a major market.
Super Bowl-Steelers vs Patriots
Here's the championship! I know we all think the top two teams are Patriots and Colts but the Colts already had their shot at the Patriots and didn't get the job done so we have to give someone else their shot.

Now I dare you, I absolutely dare you, to tell me that you would prefer watching this lineup to whatever NFL playoff lineup we end up getting.


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