Indianapolis, We Have a Problem
We are in desperate need of a College Football Playoff System and I think everybody is aware of this fact sans the people who actually make these kinds of decisions—-I’m talking to you [NCAA]. Since 2004 there has been a volcanic ripple throughout the Continental US about the need for a playoff system in College Football. Hell, since 2003 actually. Let’s just take a generic look back: In 2003, LSU (a 1 loss team) played Oklahoma, a one loss team (who had just lost to Kansas State in the Big XII Championship Game) in the National Championship, leaving Southern California (USC) out of the mix. LSU dominated and won the game……THE Game to decide the BEST team in the country and still…..USC garnered enough AP votes to grant them a share of the Championship even though they did not play in it. So, to get this straight, LSU won the BCS Title Game but…..did not actually win it? USC did? This is at the baseline of why we need a Playoff System. More proof you ask?
In 2004, USC and Oklahoma were preseason ranked #1 and #2, respectively (and both fought for the Championship that year, OU lost again…Big…AGAIN) but what some forget is that Auburn, which started the year #17 went through the Gauntlet which is the SEC, undefeated: a beautiful, black-eyed and bloodied 13-0 and settled for less than they deserved. They DESERVED to be in the BCS Game, regardless. And Utah that year, Urban Meyer’s last before his Swamp’s tenure was undefeated as well. And how about 2006? Boise State left the loss column unblemished….and 2009? Boise State again did the same. Maybe the answer is (PSR) Preseason Rankings, which always leads to trouble. Take last year for example: Where was Texas ranked before last season even started? #4. Where did they end up? With one of the most successful college coaches to date on the Hot Seat. Offensive Coordinator: Fired. Defensive Coordinator: Fired. Strength & Conditioning Coach: Fired. Final Record for the #4 Preseason Ranked Longhorns? 5-7.
And how about this year? Let’s take Jimbo’s Juggernauts (I use that term loosely and for comedic effect only) as they started the year at a lofty #5. And what did they do? Lose to Oklahoma at home, lose to Clemson, Auburn and most recently Wake Forest. So again, what does that really tell us? It implies that we should denounce the Sacred Preseason Rankings as we know them.
Granted, PSR gives us, analysts and teams something to talk, brag and gloat about, but usually on Week [1 or 2] somebody has shut their mouth (2007 Michigan team) due to obvious over-rankings. We need—and should hold these rankings with a grain of salt but like the college football fanatics we are, we don’t. We fight for them. We dissolve every bit of logic in our minds for them. “Our team is ranked #5…..your team is not even ranked, ha!” And what happens? That unranked team whoops that pampered Top Team like a silly stepchild not really welcome in the family. PSR’s are nothing more than comic relief for the masses; they shuffle more swiftly than a Caesar’s Palace Blackjack Dealer. We need a fair& balanced start—-carte blanche for everybody; a ranking system similar to the BCS which does not come out until Week 7. Where tangible efforts can be calculated and measured versus “hype” and incoming Blue Chip promises.
The football landscape needs a transparent vehicle for reaching the Title Game, not a series of computers telling us who should play. There are mountainous roadblocks shouldering that outlook but if we can’t negotiate the terrain I suggest we dynamite our way through. You hear things such as, “The [BCS] system works”, “A playoff system is bad for the sport” but whose mouths utter those phrases are the Brass of Conferences and the crooked inept and in serious need of change itself, NCAA. As if they have not witnessed the sort of chaotic conclusion I’ve been talking about before, this year might pave the way for a Playoff System like never before. Take the Top 8 AP ranking teams as an example:
- Boise State
- Oklahoma State
While history is not on my theoretical side, of these 8 (undefeated) teams, two will have at least one loss: Alabama plays host to LSU [Nov. 5] and Oklahoma visits OK State on Dec. 3. So, in taking that in, we could easily have 6 undefeated teams by seasons end. But only two will vie for the Title Game. Is it really fair that either LSU or Alabama, by far the best two teams in the country, may have to settle for the Cotton Bowl? To me, the disparity between them and everybody else is as vast as Chris Christie’s waistline. Take this scenario: They play each other in less than a month and one will lose, and will probably not have the chance to play in the SEC Championship. So say Alabama wins and heads to Atlanta to play their SEC East counterpart and loses, that SEC East team will automatically head to New Orleans to play in the Sugar Bowl. That leaves the BCS committee to take only one other SEC team—Alabama, to play in the Fiesta Bowl lets say….that would leave LSU to play in the Cotton Bowl. And you could play the same scenario with OU and OKST which play on the last week.
And not trying to forget the others (Stanford and Boise State jumping up and down, waving their hands, “What about us!?”) but a team like Clemson, should they not have a sporting chance at the Title with what they’ve done thus far? And even with their Candyland-ish schedule Boise would now have 3 undefeated seasons in the last 6 years and one year removed from that heartbreaking one-loss season. Should they not have a shot to finally hoist the Coaches’ Trophy?
The practical answer that we will have 6 zero loss teams at the end is No. Highly unlikely. But if we do? Rabid Badger, Cardinal, Bronco and every other avid college football fan in the country will rightly and justly have an anchored and documented assault for uprooting the BCS system while the “Brass” of College Football will most definitely be left in an unnerving and cataleptic state and hopefully….maybe….just maybe…..they will wake up and see things for [not] what they are but instead for how things need to be. I understand about the possibility of guaranteed revenue lost, slimming the regular season schedule, rivalry shredding and reshaping the Bowl itinerary but this is something that must be done. For the players that sweat and bleed day in day out. For the coaches’ 100 hour work week and rapidly graying hair because of it. For the fans that hold their team in higher regard than their mom’s home cooking. It must be accomplished for all of the above and more.
A College Football Playoff may be on the horizon but we just might need something that hurts our sport to get us there…..like 6 undefeated teams.
Much Sports Love,