Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bowl Championship Series vs College Football Playoff

So, as a not-that-huge football fan (I check results but don't often watch games), I will admit that President-Elect Obama's idea to push for a college football playoff so we can have one decisive winner each year sounded pretty good to me - one, i don't care that much about the whole thing, so I'm kind of an uninformed constituent on the issue and anything sounds good to me, but two, it's very American of us to want an absolute victor in the sport each year. For the first time, however, I've stumbled on a really great article vouching for the other side - the current system of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). I'm posting the article in its entirety here but you can also read it on the Trib website.

Time to fight Obama's push for college football playoff

Ah, I see. So that's how it's going to be.

The enemy has brought out the big gun.

Those of us who don't want to see a playoff in college football now have to stand by and take our lumps while President-elect Barack Obama practically calls the Bowl Championship Series anti-American.

(By the way, clip and save for your grandchildren; this is a special Obama keepsake column.)

The president-elect's decision to confront one of the true pressing issues of our time has emboldened proponents of a playoff format, including many media members, to speak out passionately on the subject. There hasn't been this much indignation among sports columnists since plaid sports coats were declared out of style.

"If you've got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season, and many of them have one loss or two losses, there's no clear, decisive winner," Obama said recently on " 60 Minutes." "We should be creating a playoff system."

Yes, the Big Guy-in-Waiting used the occasion of his first interview since winning the presidential election to talk about the absence of a college football playoff system. A TV audience of 24 million heard him say he wants an eight-team playoff. We APers (anti-playoffers), a small, awkwardly named group, don't.

"It would add three weeks to the season," Obama said. "You could trim back on the regular season. I don't know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me. So I'm going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it's the right thing to do."

Did you pick up on the way he relegated us APers to the margins? It's sneaky logic: Serious football fans want a playoff. Therefore, anyone not in favor of a playoff should stop thinking of himself as a serious fan.

The argument we hear most—that college football is the only sport that doesn't have a playoff—is the best argument for keeping things the way they are. What's wrong with being unique? Why do people want college football to be like everything else?

From late August into January, the country turns into a glorious mess of civil discussions and unruly arguments. College football isn't about consensus building. You say Alabama absolutely should be No. 1? I say Texas Tech and its amped-up offense deserves the top spot. I also say your sister is so ugly that when she was born, they put tinted windows on the incubator. But that's just me not knowing when to stop.

In almost any other sport, you can't remember who finished second. You can in college football because the second-ranked team is almost always so honked off it makes a huge racket. I like that. I like tumult and debate and human error.

You say 11-0 Ball State should have a chance to prove it's among the best teams in the nation. I say the Cardinals should count their lucky stars there isn't a playoff. Ball State, ranked 17th in the BCS standings, wouldn't make a 16-team playoff if it started today.

If Obama's eight-team plan were in effect, undefeated Boise State would not get to take part in a playoff this season. The Broncos are ranked ninth in the current BCS standings.

Somebody—lots of somebodies—will be unhappy with any system. Under the current BCS setup, almost everyone has the opportunity to be unhappy. There's equal-opportunity unhappiness. It's a lot more fun this way.

And there's always this: Every regular-season game means something. You lose a game, there's a decent chance you've lost the opportunity to play for the national championship. Moral of the story: Don't lose.

We APers have to stick together and stay strong. We're surrounded on all sides by people who are desperate for change. I tried to contact Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford, both of whom are big backers of the BCS format. A spokesman said Delany believes he has said all he wants to say on the topic, and Swofford didn't return a call.

Fellas, this is not the time to let down your guard. The future president of the United States has vowed to turn college football into the NFL.

This is a time for vigilance, for protecting a unique format, for speaking out. Despite all the computers, statistics and rankings, the current setup says we're human. We're flawed. But it also says we have a sense of humor. Sit back and laugh at the chaos.

For those of who like the system as it is, the good news is that ESPN just signed a contract to televise BCS games from 2011 through 2014.

Mr. Obama, a college playoff system is a change we don't need, but I can see you're unwilling to budge. I wonder what Vladimir Putin thinks about this.

Heh... tinted windows FTW

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