Football Blogging

There’s a couple of things I’m really getting annoyed with on ESPN, and so I;m going to take a minute to address them here.

First of all, Josh Elliot keeps saying that “an arbitrary title system demeans the regular season.” So he’s a playoff fanatic, which is understandable, but seriously, don’t say the same thing every damn day. Please.

On the merits though, it’s worth pointing out, again, how little playoof proponents seem to have thought this thing through, and because of which I really doubt many of them are particularly avid college football fans. On the one hand, the system is completely unworkable as a scheduling matter. The current bowl schedule runs from, basically, Christmas to New Year’s Day with a handful of bowls scatterd in the weeks prior and after. Which means that most of the travel is confined to a period when every university in the country is on their holiday breaks. An 8 team (or especially a 16 team) playoff would require that the NCAA either expand their schedule into January, which would put them in competition with the NFL playoffs and the conference play period of the college basketball season, or play through the entirety of December, which would conflict with everyone’s final exam schedule. The academic implication of that is bad enough (this is still college football, no matter how much it would help ESPN’s bottom line), but that scenario would also require scaling back the “lesser” bowl schedule, which would never be approved by the mid major conferences, nor the 2nd tier teams in the major conferences. Obviously neither of these scenarios are workable.

But even if you’re too stubborn to accept that it just can’t be feasibly done, there are other problems attached. First of all, there are too many teams, and too many scheduling quirks, for a playoff to be determined by records, so you’re still going to require polls to determine who gets into the playoffs. Now maybe that doesn’t sound terrible, but what happens when we have a couple of teams with 2 losses n the bubble for the 8th spot, and the team who gets left out winds up being a team that’s beaten the eventual national champion? Josh Elliot is going to be screaming about the unfairness of it all over again, and we’ll have to endure the further annoyance of the people who agitated for the damn thing bitching like it’s someone else’s fault.

But in a much more consequential change to the college football landscape, if you instituted an 8 (or 16) team playoff system, you can forget about seeing any marquee, non-conference, match ups through the year, outside of rivalry games. Sure you’ll still Florida-Florida State, but you can forget Ohio State-USC, or Ohio-State Texas, Virginia Tech-LSU, Michigan-Oregon, and so on. And the reasoning is simple; if the strategy becomes one of being one of the top 8 teams in the country, instead of one of the top 2, the best teams at the outset are going to be more concerned with having few losses instead of having “signature wins” at the end of the year. Ohio State and USC won’t play each other, and then have to go play their conference schedule, because the risk won’t be worth the reward. If Ohio State had played UNLV instead of USC, they’d probably only have 1 loss right now, have a good shot at running the table the rest of the way, and be ina very good position to make the playoffs. As it stands though, they have two losses and probably won’t crack the top 8 at the end of the season. And on the flip side, even though they won that game USC is currently sitting at only 6th and 7th in the Coaches’ and AP polls, after losing to Oregon State.

The second issue is Mike Singletary. You’ve seen the video right? And you’ve probably seen lots of talking heads on ESPN applauding Singeltary for “reigning these players in,” as Steve Young put it. You know what you haven’t seen? Anyone pointing out the irony of Singletary complaining people weren’t focused on “the team” as he’s drawing attention to himself and publicly humiliating one of his players. Anyone think we might be hearing about how incredibly disrespectful this was if it was a player criticizing the team’s coach?