Your Postseason Is Bad and You Should Feel Bad

Ever since the various conference commissioners had a fifteen-minute daliance with the idea of a sensible postseason, the football blogosphere has spit out any number of reasons why the current ad hoc system is awesome and the introduction of rationality into the system would ruin everything. And they're pretty much the same arguments that have been for years, which I'm tired of reading (and writing) about, so for the most part I've ignored it. But one post caught my eye, since it made the mistake of focusing on 2006, the season I spent so much time debating the merits of playoffs in:

Everyone likes to point to 2004 and say, "See. We need a playoff because undefeated Auburn didn't get to play for the title." I'd like to point you to 2006 and show a playoff won't work.

[...]

That means your seeds from the 2006 season would be:

#1 Seed Ohio State as Big 10 Champ
#2 Seed UF as SEC Champ
#3 Seed USC as Pac 10 Champ
#4 Seed Louisville as Big East Champ
#5 Seed Oklahoma as Big 12 Champ
#6 Seed Boise State as top non-BCS team
#7 Seed Notre Dame by virtue of finishing in Top 10 poll
#8 Seed Wake Forest as ACC Champ

Look at who doesn't make the playoffs in that scenario. Michigan (#3), LSU (#4) and Wisconsin (#7) are left out of that bracket. That's a better system than what we have now? One that excludes better teams who are fully capable of winning from participating?

Actually, I'm perfectly OK with eaving those teams out. In fact, I developed an extensive alternate universe with just that scenario. Man up, win your conference championship, or you don't get to play. Basketball ran with that for thirty years. I'm absolutely fine with that. And here's the thing:

So are you. Really. You're completely cool with tossing Michigan to the wolves, for two reasons:

Michigan was excluded from the championship. Before they took the field in Pasedena, they were already eliminated. God could have descended from the heavens and smited Glendale as a modern day Sodom killing every member of the Gators and Buckeyes, and the championship wouldhave been issued to them in memoriam. Michigan's 11-1 record wasn't good enough in real life, why is it such a sin that they're denied a playoff?

Michigan sucked. Remember? They took the field in Pasedena and were blown out by USC. They ended the season ranked 8th and 9th. Our hypothetical playoffs really dodged a bullet there.

Of course, so did the BCS. There was a month of incredibly dull bickering about whether Michigan or Florida should have been on the field in Glendale, a decision eventually made by a bunch of non-athletes paid to, well, endlessly bicker about such things. And the pairing they did choose didn't really lead to the pinnacle of the sport. OSU came out of their ever-so-meaningful undefeated regular season and followed Michigan's lead, playing Wake Forest-level football. If only there was some other game after those two, where Florida and USC could have played. Maybe it would have been decided in a game without three-touchdown margins. But what kind of football fan would want to watch football, when they could be talking about it?

Oh, and while I'm at it, that whole problem of mission creep? Yeah, that's a concern. After all, it would be horrible for the postseason to expand to sixty-eight teams. That would just suck.

Face it, the bowl system is just like the NCAA basketball tournament. Except where there's one meaningless Tuesday game in March, there's thirty-three in December.

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