b The Longhorn Mafia <$BlogRSDURL$>

Friday, November 19, 2004

Football: My Case Against a Playoff 

If it's November, it must be the time of year that every yahoo across America decided it's time to pimp his or her idea for a college football playoff. "it's so simple," they say. "The NCAA is crazy," they add.

Well I don't think it's so simple, and furthermore, I don't think a college football playoff will be nearly as rewarding as proponents think it will be. Here are a few hastily composed thoughts that I don't think the playoff proponents address when they lay out their plans.

How do you decide the field?: College basketball allows 64 teams and still there is grumbling each March. Football simply cannot have a field even half that big. So how do we decide who gets in and who gets left out? Eight teams or sixteen teams? Conference champions or strictly at-large? In any instance the polls -- both human and computer -- play an integral role. That opens up just as much controversy as we have right now.

You can't duplicate March Madness: We all love the NCAA tourney. It's great -- 64 teams, single elimination, two games a week... with office pools and marathon TV broadcasts, March Madness reprsents a gambler's and a sports bar owner's dream. But college football isn't the same sport. You won't have nearly as many teams, and with the smaller field, you'll never be able to manufacture the drama that b-ball junkies live for (e.g., the longshot upsets that define the early rounds).

Where do they play?: People always say, "use the Bowls as playoff sites." Well gee, I'm sure that'll work our great for all the fans that have to travel from Memphis to San Diego to Tempe on consecutive weekends. And when teams with less-entusiastic fanbases sell less than half their allotment for a Final Four game, I'm sure we'll all be excited to see half-empty stadiums on television. Even if they allow home fields, it just gives unfair advantages to teams that are ranked higher in whatever arbitrary system seeds the playoff field.

Meaningless regular seasons: With a playoff, Texas-Oklahoma, Miami-Florida State, Florida-Tennessee and all of those mega-rivalry games become moot. And teams like the aforementioned schools actually get an advantage, because they play earlier in the year, allowing plenty of time to bounce back in the polls, while others (Auburn-Alabama, Michigan-Ohio State, etc.) face a win-or-else situation with their late games.

I'm not going to argue that the BCS is ideal. But it's better than the regional match-ups the preceded it. And if a playoff ever becomes a reality, then I'll accept it. Let's not kid ourselves, however, by thinking that a solution is easy, or that we're anywhere close to having one.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?