Time For College Football Playoffs
by Jeff Sims
(Flint, Michigan )
I'll take your thesis on the Big East (home to such traditional college football powers as Connecticut and South Florida) not deserving an automatic bid and take it one step further. I think the B(c)S is a fraud committed every year against the sporting public. (I lowercase the "c" because capitalizing it would suggest the "championship" is legitimate.) The time has long been here for the NCAA to finally grow a spine and institute the same playoff system it uses for every other sport, including I-AA football. In fact, I-A football is the only form of football I know that tells a team that went undefeated in the regular season to take a hike because of who they are.
Imagine the NCAA basketball committee telling Butler to go home because it wasn't born in the Big 10. We would have missed out on a thrilling Cinderella run that came one missed jump shot short of the national championship. Think about this for a moment. Which would you rather be doing on a mid-December Saturday as you wrap presents? Would you rather watch one 6-6 team go through the motions against another 6-6 team (likely with an interim head coach) in a half-empty stadium while the announcers spend half their time discussing draft prospects or other games on the schedule?
Or would you rather watch Boise State (this year's WAC champion) take on Auburn (this year's SEC champion) play each other in a packed-to-the-gills Alamodome in a first-round playoff with everything on the line? Wouldn't the brackets and pools for this playoff system make March Madness look like penny-ante poker? I'm not suggesting that the bowls need to be eliminated altogether. If some team that didn't make the playoffs wants to play some other team that didn't make the playoffs, that's fine. Let them continue
football's version of the NIT. (That's what the current system has done to the bowls anyway, even the Rose and Sugar.) But these exhibition games are no substitute for a playoff. And if instituting a playoff causes some bowl games to fold, would anyone really cry about that? Would people stop going to Orlando in December if there were no Champs Sports Bowl? Would anyone outside of Shreveport miss the Independence Bowl?
By the way, does anyone notice that no one is suggesting implementing a B(c)S-type system for any other sports? No one is suggesting that the NFL scrap its playoff system and simply pick two games to go straight to the Super Bowl. No one is suggesting that baseball scrap its postseason and simply pick two of the most TV-friendly teams to play in the World Series. No one is suggesting that college basketball scrap its tournament and just tell Duke and Michigan State to meet them in Indianapolis for a championship game. As for the argument that a playoff would hurt football players academically (an argument that's always made for the students at Georgia but never for the students at Georgia Southern), let me bring this up.
The South Carolina baseball team played its first game of the 2010 season on Feb. 19 against Duquesne. It played its last game of the season on June 29 against UCLA in the final game of the College World Series. In all, the team played 70 games in four and a half months, including 24 held after the university's spring commencement. I don't recall anyone sounding any alarms about their academic progress. It's time for the NCAA to tell its conferences where to go: into a playoff bracket. By the way, if you want to start a football playoff pool, I'm in. Just e-mail me the brackets.