Reason: The Only People Who Want it Are the Fans.
How can there ever be a playoff? Using any conference tiebreaker except the Big 12’s and <st1:state w:st="on">Texas</st1:state> demolishes <st1:state w:st="on">Missouri</st1:state> and would be heading for a date with <st1:state w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Florida</st1:place></st1:state>. Because of the history and tradition of the Rose Bowl, <st1:state w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Illinois</st1:place></st1:state> gets killed by USC last year instead of a more competitive game. <st1:placename w:st="on">Boise</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">State</st1:placetype> beats <st1:state w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Oklahoma</st1:place></st1:state> in perhaps the most entertaining BCS game ever and can’t even get enough respect to go back to a BCS game even after going undefeated due to their “easy” schedule and weak conference.
It is apparent that as a fan, my passionate opinion for a true championship system gets grouped together with all the other crazy fans and is largely ignored by anyone and everyone who would have a decision in changing it anything close to what I want. I decided there must be something I was missing so I looked under a few rocks and tried to find those BCS deciders to discover what was going on.
Ten Reasons There Isn’t a Playoff Right Now:<o:p></o:p>
Football alas is very different from every other sport in many ways and its very nature leads the sport into a hopeless morass. Consider:
- Football can only be played once a week. It’s much easier to cram a championship into 18 days when you can play two or even three games a week. Lower division football teams play fewer games and don’t have a bowl to worry about. It’s over by mid-December.
- Football is played outdoors and in the fall. Is this fair to cold weather sites stuffed with 100,000 fans to endure a couple more games on icy tundras in December? How could you get new recruits? Cold weather baseball teams already have this problem in the springs. Or do you select neutral domed sites and ask these fans to travel two or three times more every year? In this economy?
- Football is an all male sport with no female equivalent. Title IX anyone?
- Football is usually the sport that pays for all the other sports at a given university. There a fear that if someone screws around with it too much maybe <st1:state w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Wisconsin</st1:place></st1:state> has to drop their baseball team (already happened) or maybe Vanderbilt drops basketball (though I hope not SEC fans).
- Football ends its season just when students take their final exam. Any games scheduled at that time would indeed hamper students taking exams, as some university presidents have said. Most college basketball teams take that week off so the students can study.
- Most college football players are students and will never play another game after they graduate. They got a scholarship and supposedly have something they studied while they played so they can get a job. Is it fair to them?
- Bowl games used to be a reward for a well-played season. Teams have to practice for a month or more just to play that last game. The team dynamics from fall ball are very different after such a hiatus (look at <st1:state w:st="on">Florida</st1:state> and <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Ohio</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">State</st1:placetype></st1:place> two years ago). It’s a lot of pressure to put on a bowl game six weeks after the regular season.
- Bowl games have conference tie-ins and rivalries and affiliations and network contracts and all kinds of wonderful traditions that don’t include whittling down to a champion. The Rose Bowl would rather choose a Pac 10-Big 10 matchup than the best two teams left in the rankings (like last year). What’s wrong with that?
- Football has three completely levels of play at best. The so-called “BCS conferences,” the “non-BCS conferences” and the FBS teams which still play BCS teams (much to the chagrin of <st1:state w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Michigan</st1:place></st1:state>). The thing I like best about March Madness is the first weekend, seeing small colleges play with the big boys. Football can never play those types of playoffs. Why even have a playoff if you’re not going to give all teams at least a little chance?
- Finally, now that the universities, conferences, and bowls have had their say, let’s really talk about the money. A playoff would generate a lot of income, yes. So much money it’s hard to imagine. Yet, who would the money go to? The BCS teams? Probably. The networks? Probably. Non-BCS teams? Probably not. BCS Conference Cellar-Dwellers? Maybe, maybe not (sorry Indiana and Baylor). Is it good for college football for the rich to get richer and the poor to suffer? It’s not like a new owner can instill more money and restart a program.
So football is just too difficult to have a playoff structure in its present form.
5 Things That Have to Happen for a Playoff (but won’t)<o:p></o:p>
1. The BCS conferences would all have to be run similarly. That means, the same number of teams, the same decision to have a championship game or not, the same drive to crown a champion. I get the impression that the Pac 10 and Big 10 would be just as happy to go back to the way it was in the seventies. On the other hand, I get the impression the SEC would trim games to get the playoffs started baby. And who would the twelfth Big Ten team be? What would the Big East do?
2. Some playoff games would have to be played in December, before student exams, then again after the exams. That means only one or two bowl games a year would be part of the playoffs, rotating each year. This is not a simple thing to overcome.
3. The NCAA would have to play ball with the BCS. Currently they are separate entities that have nothing to do with each other and different priorities. That would have to change. That means compromises and time.
4. The chasm between the “BCS” and “non-BCS” teams would have to grow, possibly even splitting. The best they could hope for now is one at-large spot in an eight-team playoff. Any good programs like <st1:state w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Utah</st1:place></st1:state> or Brigham Young would have to decide whether to be a big fish in a small pond or try and get in a better conference. Cinderella teams would be someone like <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Cincinnati</st1:place></st1:city> who won the Big East this year but would be a low seed and a heavy dog against the likes of any other BCS conference winner. Not really my idea of a Cinderella.
5. The network contract would have to be renegotiated. Right now it goes to 2014 I think. Nothing is going to happen until we get past that at least, and if the others on this list aren’t dealt with, it won’t happen then either. I may die first.
Sorry to say I don’t see the last list of five things happening because of the first list of ten things. Face it gang: there’s no BCS Playoff in anyone’s Christmas Stocking. Ever.
- Plus-One. My son likes this one. So do a lot of pundits. I think it will invite the same kinds of arguments only a few weeks later. It’s still too subjective.
- OK, I only have one alternative. Do you have any?