Yeah that’s right, you heard me. I’ll say it again just in case the talking heads on TV screaming for justice and begging for a college football playoff were drowning me out. I love the BCS. Actually it’s not the BCS in itself that I love, it’s what the BCS does for college football that I love. Let me state for the record that I believe college football is the greatest sport known to man. Let me also state that I hate the NFL and officially declared it dead a while ago. Now I won’t get deep into the myriad of reasons why the college version of football bests the professional version; that will no doubt be covered in a future post.
I am going to break this debate down point by point (with common playoff cheerleader catchphrases in italics):
1. The BC$ is only about money and the university presidents are too greedy to change.
This is the “your mom” of playoff arguments, always resting in the back pocket of any playoff proponent. Well allow me to retort (/Jules Winnfield), of course the BCS is about money, as is most everything in life. The BCS is basically designed to guarantee an extremely large sum of money goes into each school’s collective pocket. Why is this a bad thing? The football teams for the major programs put up Warren Buffet style profits every year (and let’s not forget, they are the main reason billionaires like T. Boone Pickens and Phil Knight donate ginormous sums of money to build facilities that benefit all students on campus). These profits fund every other sport (except men’s basketball which also brings home the cheddar at many schools). Are these presidents taking these BCS dollars and heading to the local gentleman’s hangout making it rain and sippin’ on the finest drank in the place? No, they are using the money to make sure women’s field hockey is able to afford uniforms and travel expenses. Actually, a playoff system would probably make more money than the current system due to the astronomical TV contract it would surely fetch. But that is not guaranteed; these university presidents know they have a steady income rolling in thanks to the BCS and have a responsibility to provide funding for all sports.
2. The players are already exploited enough as it is. A playoff would only further push these young men into being indentured servants. I played college football at the Division 1-AA level. Unless they reinstate the draft and I end up in the armed forces one day, I can pretty much guarantee it was the hardest, most time consuming, most physically demanding thing I’ll ever experience. During the season, your social life is non-existent. Now a few football players are known to be partiers, but this comes at the expense of academics and/or athletics and from my experience these guys are in the minority. But they get a free education, free room and board & get to live in the best student housing. I wish someone gave me a free education to play a game. That’s like me saying I wish I looked like Brad Pitt because then I could make millions and actually dump Jennifer Aniston for someone prettier. Well, I don’t look like Brad Pitt, and you don’t get someone to pay for your education because you aren’t big/strong/fast enough. That’s the way it works, these young men get certain perks because they were born with more talent than you. But to get back on topic, if anything the games should be cut back from 12; we should not be adding weeks onto an already grueling season for the players. Everybody always makes a big deal out of “scandals” like Reggie Bush allegedly getting paid while at USC. Well what’s wrong with that? The schools, TV networks, advertisers, merchandisers, etc. all made money off Reggie’s talent and popularity and yet it’s a crime when he (allegedly) gets money for himself. These guys are not paid like professionals and therefore we should not expect them to risk permanent bodily harm by playing additional playoff games just so you can sleep soundly at night knowing who the “true” national champion is.
3. But every other sport uses a playoff to determine a champion.
This is exactly why I love college football (and you probably do without even realizing it): major college football is unique. It’s not like every other sports league where the first 5 months of the season are only previews to the main attraction of the playoffs. Every week in college football is an experience, it is an event. Every game means something. Well that’s obviously not true because LSU won the national championship with two losses last year. Well hindsight is 20/20. Of course now we know those losses did not hinder LSU from winning it all, but I guarantee during the Arkansas game every LSU fan was thinking this was a do-or-die game. During the season you have to assume that one loss will end your title hopes and therefore play like it is a playoff game. Under a playoff system, we’ll know before the game that it is meaningless. Let’s say we have an 8 team playoff where the 6 major conference champions make the playoffs. Well last season’s West Virginia-Pitt upset would have meant nothing because the Mountaineers already locked up the Big East title. Also, the aforementioned LSU-Arkansas game would have been meaningless (and let me remind you we would have known this before the game, not in hindsight: HUGE DIFFERENCE) because the Tigers were already SEC West champs and were going to play in the SEC championship game regardless of that outcome. When all a team is playing for is seeding, well then that’s when college football will begin turning into the NFL (and that’s not a good thing). Final point: I am an Ohio State fan and I was able to see one of the most epic games in college football history, the 2006 Michigan game. #1 vs. #2. Buckeyes vs. I couldn’t get into an Ivy League school so I had to settle for Michigan Men. It does not get any better than that. Watching that game and living and dying with every change of momentum was one of the best experiences of my life (I know, it’s sad). Now if even a 4-team playoff was around that season, both teams would have made the playoffs and that game would have been purely about seeding. No thanks.
4. It’s what the fans want. (Note: Notice how I’m discussing the fans last. When it comes to making decisions about college football, the athletes’ needs should be considered first, then the schools’, then the fans’.) Playoff proponents never fail to pull out some poll showing how the majority of fans want a playoff. Well, Titanic made about eleventy billion more dollars than The Shawshank Redemption, but what would you say is the better movie? I thought so. Just because something is more popular or more rapidly consumed by the average American does not make it superior. Every true college football fan I know (not the regular Joe football fans who like pro, college and fantasy football equally) prefers the system the way it is. That’s because we get it. We know that less is way more in this instance. You may think more football is always better, but all we’ll get is a watered down version of the NFL if a playoff is created in college football.
With all that said, I see the writing on the wall. I know one day college football will have a playoff. It’s inevitable at this point. Too many people (as misguided as they are) want it. And when the announcement is made and playoff proponents are rioting through the streets in fits of pure extacy, I’ll probably join them. Not because I’ll agree with them, but because I’ve had my eye on a sweet 60” plasma at Best Buy.