College football holding itself back
Published 6:32 pm, Wednesday, January 12, 2011
More often than not, I'm likely to focus my weekly column on the local sports, but there's something I feel needs to be addressed: The horrendous system for college football bowl games, and the lack of a playoff system.
I have a confession: As big of a sports fan as I am, I only watched two bowl games in their entirety: Penn State vs. Florida in the Outback Bowl (only because I went to Penn State) and the BCS National Championship game between Auburn and Oregon. Why? Because those are the only two games that mattered at all to me.
In every other professional or college sport (NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, college hoops, college baseball), there can be only one champion. There aren't any AT&T Sugar Bowls, Meineke Car Care Bowls, or Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowls (just rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?). These games are meaningless and they'll be forgotten just as soon as they're over, assuming anyone watches them in the first place.
The National Championship game is as compelling as just about any other game in sports, and I watch intently every year. But why isn't there some sort of a tournament to get there? The obvious reason is that the NCAA makes more money by having so many bowl games, but you can't tell me that they don't already make a killing off of advertising, ticket sales and merchandise.
So, in college football's universe, there's quite literally no difference between being No. 1 in the country versus being No. 2 in the country. No. 1 and No. 2 are guaranteed to play each other for the National Championship.
However, there's all the difference in the world between being No. 2 in the country versus being No. 3 in the country: No. 2 is one win away being National Champions, and No. 3 has no chance at all to be National Champions, even if they went undefeated, as TCU did this year. How is that fair? TCU won every single game and received zero opportunity to compete to win it all.
Imagine if the NFL adopted this structure. You'd have the Patriots playing the Falcons in the Super Bowl without any real journey in getting there. Other quality teams like the Bears, Jets, Ravens and Eagles would be thrown into a chaotic mess of inconsequential bowl games. It would be Eagles vs. Ravens in the Bazooka Joe Bird Bowl and Bears vs. Jets in the Billy Beer No One Cares Bowl.
There's only one thing more ridiculous than the fact that there's no playoff system in college football: The amount of time and energy wasted by sportswriters and fans alike in lobbying for a playoff system. It's a debate that has to be at least a decade old. I'm begging college football to do us all a favor: Start taking yourself as seriously as we take you and get a playoff system in place.