People Who Hate Playoffs Hate America. And Puppies.

There appears to be a segment of the population outside conference commisioners and college athletic directors who like the college football postseaon the way it is, and shockingly enough, some of these people have been allowed onto the internet. I've been assured that expressing support for the BCS is a federal offense, but with beaurocracy the way it is, such opinions can be found here, here, and here. Here's a rundown of some of the points that have been made:

It's all about the regular season in college football. Well, no it isn't. It's all about the regular season for the eight or so schools poll voters feel have a shot. Boise State did absolutely everything required of them all season, and their reward is to play a two-loss team in Tempe. They can go undefeated and won't finish higher than fifth. In no other sport can you win every single game all damn year and finish fifth.

But Boise's used to it - hell the last time they went undefeated the BCS wouldn't even take their calls. They were too busy ignoring Utah's undefeated season that year, and Auburn's. You see, the BCS only respects the regular season if there are two (and only two) undefeated teams. If there's more, well, somebody's season isn't worth shit because a bunch of voters in August didn't think they were going to be as good as the lucky two teams fightung over a piece of crystal. And of course if there's just one undefeated team (or heaven help us none) then all of a sudden when various teams had the misfortune to lose becomes a significant factor, and to whom, and the media presence of various institutions, and the sainted regular season falls by the wayside.

By the way, the best method of debating this point with me probably isn't by starting with, "Think about college basketball for a moment.  Can many of you honestly remember much from say, any of the Duke/North Carolina games?" I'm still bitter about a game UNC won eleven years ago over a Duke squad last in the ACC, and I don't remember a damn thing about last year's Boston College - Florida State matchup, let alone what midlevel Big 10 teams were doing.

Football doesn't have a national championship. It's mythical. No. Stop right there. Go be disingenuous on your own time. The damn postseason is called the Bowl Championship Series. "Championship" is right there in the name. True, at one point in college football thre was a season, some votes, and then some bowl games entirely unrelated to everything else. That changed, because people hated it. Declaring someone a champion and then having them go out and get waxed in a football game a month later over Christmas Break was seen be everyone with a pulse as being a bad thing.

Look, Alabama doesn't go around bragging about its 12 or 17 or 432 first place finishes in polls of dubious merit, and obscurity. No, they talk about their national championships. And teams get trophies with "National Championship" inscribed on the side. The fact that the NCAA is smart enough not go get involved doesn't suddenly make it an exhibition - they're still trying to determine a national championship, but they're doing it in an incredibly stupid manner.

We can't have an 8-team playoff. Look at the teams we'll be excluding. You mean those teams that aren't playing for a national championship now? I'm sure they appreciate you standing up for they're right to continue to have a meaningless postseason. You can pick eight teams for a playoff any number of ways (Although mine would be the right one.) Any sensible method would still keep the regular season paramount. But to take eight teams picked by a method designed for something else entirely and then complain about four others that got left out, well that's just stupid. The 66th team in basketball complains it was left out every year in March, but no one really cares.

Playoffs don't neccessarily produce the best team. The logic of this one always gets me. It's directed at the 64-team NCAA basketball tournament, where there are a bunch of upsets (you know, that get people watching the game). Of course, one of the ways we define "best basketball team" is their ability to win six straight games in three long weekends, and despite the fact the winner isn't always the team that was #1 at the start, it's almost always a team people can say, "Yeah, they're the best." The exceptions to that are what, State in 1983? Villanova in '85? I can take that level of upsets.

But put that aside. Also ignore that a football playoff would have 8 teams, not 64. What if the best team lost unexpectedly? What if, say, the best team was up late in the game, putting it away, but their opponent scores after a botched pass interference call? And then illegally recovers an onside kick, and wins the game? The best team has lost! The playoffs are ruined!

There's no magical line between a regular season and the playoffs. The best team doesn't always win - it could have been Oklahoma this year, before Oregon and a season-ending injury. Football is less likely to name the best team champion, because there's more chances for the best team to stumble and be eliminated over a twelve game schedule than a six game tournament.

Or to put it another way, Florida may be the best team in the country this year. In fact, folks are putting out quite a bit of money and spreading around a great deal of tortilla chips in Tempe to test just that hypothesis in a month. Maybe they'll even put it on TV. Yet if last week Southern Cal had beaten UCLA, no one would be talking about the Gators. Why is Florida being the best team in college football solely dependent on a game played across the country between two unrelated teams? Why is Southern Cal being eliminated from national championship contention by an obviously lesser UCLA team - the Bruins did a great job, but USC is still 20 spots higher in the polls - a sign of all that is majestic and wonderful in college football, but a one-seed being eliminated by an eight-seed the result of a flawed and inferior way of deciding a national championship?

Of course, the real argument against the bowl system, the one that pretty much disproves all the points pro-BCS folks try to make, is extremely simple. No one else does it. And don't blame greed, or big playoff payouts. Ignore basketball and all the pro sports. The NCAA determines championships in twenty-seven other sports. They're all non-revenue - playoffs don't bring in the sack of TV money. In fact, a BCS system would probably be more cost effective, with its less travel and fewer locations.

And yet not one sport opts for that system. Absolutely no sport says, "You know what? We should finish are regular season, do absolutely nothing for over a month, and then have the two teams we think are the best play. That's the right way to declare a champion." Do you know why? Because it's not the right way. It's an incredibly asinine way to go about things. It's a half-assed, illogical method grafted on to a series of holiday vacations developed eighty years ago.

There's a better way. December could be filled with actual football games. Important ones, watched by fans, that have a direct bearing on how the season ended, and not just random matchups beteen the sixth-place SEC and the fifth-place Big XII squads. People watch the NCAA basketball tournament. They watch schools they never heard of battle it out in Utah because the results matter. They play hooky from work. They live for these middle-of-the-road games.

People watch the MPC Computer Bowl because "The King of Queens" is a rerun that night. Which is a better system?

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