Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Paper Champions, Why College football needs a playoff.

Alabama has just claimed its 13th national championship. Some in the national press refute those claims by reducing the 13 to 8 citing that only three of the titles were consensus both by the AP and the Coaches Poll. That's not a knock against Bama. Sports shouldn't resemble a beauty pageant or a flawed political system. Sadly when dealing with college football, our political system and how a national champion is decided are identical twins. All of the lower level divisions in college football have a playoff. The excitement among the fan bases is off the charts and most importantly a champion is decided on the field.

Traditions in America die hard. University Presidents, (some) college coaches, boosters and bowl administrators are comfortable with letting the gray area decide a "champion" Its safer because that gray area can over rate the appearance of greatness being sold to alumni and their fans. Most of the bowls that on national networks are brand new bowls. The Meineke Car care bowl isn't as old as the Rose, Orange, Cotton and Peach bowls. New bowls sponsors have popped up like a new shopping malls in an old suburb.

It's an insult to the intelligence of the national fan base of major college football fans. Every major NCAA sport has a championed crowned without dispute. Alabama is the champ but their is still a small window of doubt without a playoff. The Cowboys were better than the Eagles but they still played the games to prove it.(Eagles lost three times to the Boys) Wouldn't it be great to see if Bama and Florida mix it up again during the college playoffs? Sure most of us agree that Boise State would get hammered by Alabama. But shouldn't that be decided on the field? Deep down all of those Boise State kids want a shot at Apollo Creed. The big difference is that these kids want to do more than go the distance. Boise believes they can play with anybody.

An eight team playoff system could easily be created in conjunction with the bowl system. A college Superbowl can be played the first week of January. One loss teams and undefeated teams from every major division I conference could have their shot to settle on the field who's really the best team without all of the hoopla that surrounds college football.

Conference champions (that means MAN UP Big Ten and create a conference championship) can all be seeded 1 through 8. That way one loss teams like Florida isn't left out of the equation. Wild card weekend is much more exciting than the pageantry of college football. The fiasco of Auburn and Utah not getting an opportunity to compete for the championship in 2004 speaks to the need for a playoff. What about the year that a Shaun King led Tulane team was left undefeated?

College football could take a page from the NFL. The couple of superbowl seemed hopeless for the AFL until the New York Jets broke through with the improbable upset of the Baltimore Colts behind the guarantee of Joe Namath. Bosie State gave a us a glimpse of this in 2007 in their dramatic win over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. Utah beat up on Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl by two touchdowns.

The bowl demigods made sure to not schedule either TCU or Boise State against another power conference team. Cincinnati had an opportunity to carry the torch for the little guy but couldn't get it done. It's safe to assume that if Nebraska would have prevailed against Texas, Cincinnati would've gotten beat down but at least its decided on the field.

The BCS is a step in the right direction. Several times in college football history, the AP and coaches poll selected different national champions. The BCS still includes the opinions of writers and numerous unseen forces that determine who "deserves" to play for the silver egg. College football in most regions scores higher ratings than their NFL brethren. The college world series doesn't interfere with the fall classic. The Final Four is still a unique event and towers over the NBA finals in popularity.

There's enough room on the block to keep tradition and appease the rabid fan base of both football spectrum's at the pro and college level. America is fascinated with the game of football. Much like the NCAA basketball tournament, the drama of an 8th seeded Villanova winning it all over Georgetown in the 1985 final four, can be duplicated in college football.

A college Superbowl could give us the drama of a New York Jets like upset. Where's the Pete Rozelle of College football? All of those meaningless bowl games are only watched by the fan bases of those teams. What about capturing the imagination of the casual fan? The NFL Superbowl captivates people who'd rather go to a movie during the season but catch the commercials during the big game.

Imagine the shared revenue that all of the power conferences would generate. That's what the college administrators are after anyway! Is there a back room deal not to create more buzz which would effect the NFL's bottom line? Conspiracy theory like question but else are we to assume as fans. There's been talk of government getting involved. Why not get ahead of that and just make it happen? Unsolved Mysteries... Is that show still on television?

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