This has, so far, been a great football season in Cincinnati. We, of course, have great pride in our High School programs here. High School Football in this area never ceases to excite us. The icing on the cake is not only are our Bengals doing well, but our? University of Cincinnati Bearcats have climbed to near the top of the college football polls, namely the BCS.
It used to be that Bearcat football here, was kinda an afterthought. Between pulling our hair out over the Bengals, following our high school allegiances, then flowing straight into collegiate basketball, UC football wasn't given much press.
If you told me on January 23, 1989, the day after the Bengals lost to the 49ers in Superbowl 23, that in the next 20 years the Bearcats would make more Bowl appearances than the Bengals would make playoff appearances... I would have told you to have your head examined. By the way the Bearcats at that time just finished the season 3-8 having posted losing seasons 9 out of the previous 11 seasons.
The UC Football program is the Fifth oldest in the country. Many people don't know that. It's been in existence since 1885, next year it will be celebrating it's 125th birthday. This from a program that was so bad for so long it almost got the axe a few years ago.
For all of these reasons, it seems almost weird to me, that UC could potentially be one more bit of evidence that could put the BCS program on its ear. It's great to be part of this argument, but honestly it was old even before UC entered the picture.
There is the usual argument about strength of schedule, and the validity of the polls, whether the supposed power conferences are all they are cracked up to be, who is better the Big 12, Big 10, PAC 10, SEC... the WAC, even the Big East, and whose top team could beat the other top teams should they ever meet on a neutral field, da da deee. This makes for great watercooler, talk radio, and message board fodder, but really it's farting in the wind. We will not have any semblance of knowing for sure, until there is a playoff system in Division I College Football. One of the things that upset us here in Cincinnati along with probably Utah, Boise, and Ft Worth, is that our beloved college football teams don't have a prayer, in the current system, of winning a National Championship, and can be eliminated, without stepping foot on a field of play, in favor of someone else.
The opponents to a playoff system do seem to have some points against a playoff system which I'll dispute. To me they are quite weak.
- A playoff system would take the emphasis off the importance of the Regular Season . I honestly can't see this. Playoff proposals involve 4 to 16 teams in a tournament. That's out of 120 FBS teams. You still need to qualify to be one of those 4 to 16 teams, and whether the proposal is to have the 11 conference champions and 5 others go at it or take the top 16 etc you aren't going to beable to get there unless you win your conference and or exist in the top 13% of all FBS schools. If anything your regular season matters more. Out of conference schedules are completed 4 to 5 years in advance. In that time the schedule you made that is designed to propel you into the national title picture, can become full of schools that are no longer relevant, so you could run the table and end up looking up at the Top 10 instead of looking down. In essence your schedule could end up being an exercise in futility. In a few playoff scenarios as long as you win your conference, you are in. Your strength of schedule only lends to your seeding. Not perfect but better.
- There is less money to be made by schools and in general in a playoff system: If anything there will be more. First you have TV contracts that will become astronomical. This post season there will be 34 bowl games. At most 10 will actually get any sort of worthwhile rating and only one of them actually matter. Whether you incorporate the bowl system or can it, you end up with 15 games at most that matter. the first 8 can be easily seeded to entice the best ratings and then everything works itself out from there. And if the other 25 bowls want to continue running well they have 105 other teams to invite, 10 of those will be top 25 teams left out of the playoffs.
- A playoff system won't end the arguments, fringe teams will still cry foul. That will happen but if you have a top 8, top 10, or whatever tournament, my argument to them is that they should have won all of their games. Once again putting the emphasis on the importance of every game in the regular season. Yes I know that teams have been undefeated and left out of the top 10 (Marshall in 1989) but the polls have been refined since then. I'm not saying they are perfect, but it is to point now that being a top ten team is more in the teams hands than in the pollsters.