Not the Playoff We Want

It’s the offseason, which means it’s time to complain about the lack of a playoff in college football, right? Thought so.

bracketI won’t say an overwhelming majority of college football fans are strongly in favor of moving to a larger playoff structure (since the current system is indeed a “playoff,” but only 2 teams are invited each year). However, there is certainly strong sentiment among followers of the college game, and especially those who constantly have ESPN cramming the idea down their throat. I’m a playoff proponent, though not as vehement a supporter as many. However, even if the BCS is somehow modified into a playoff, or even if a playoff structure is built from the ground up, it’s unlikely that the structure will be beneficial to college football.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t like the NFL at all. Sure, I’ll watch the occasional game, because it’s a chance to watch the foot-ed ball on a day when the college guys don’t play, but I don’t think I’ll ever get true enjoyment out of The League. The atmosphere around the whole affair (and I don’t just mean game atmosphere) is overly sterilized, and everything seems so soulless, the exact opposite of college football. I guess it’s difficult to voice that sentiment in any way other than to look at college football, and look at the NFL, and note the clinical feel of the NFL in comparison. It sours the whole vibe of the game. So, I guess that’s something of a tangent, but it boils down to this: I don’t want the game to feel meaningless. It often does just that in the NFL (regardless of whether that’s true or not).

For an NCAA football playoff to be successful, it can’t grant automatic bids to conference champions. This leads to meaningless games. If Florida and Alabama hadn’t been gunning for a trip to the national title game last year, but rather an auto-bid into a grand tournament, their games in the final 2-3 weeks prior to the SEC Championship Game would have been meaningless, as they had already locked up their divisions of the conference. Of course, they would try to win the remaining games still, because, well, that’s what you do, but it certainly takes a lot of the magic out of college football.

Unfortunately, the big conferences, and the schools they represent, will never vote in favor of a national tournament that doesn’t include auto-bids for their conferences, and the precious dollars that said auto-bids bring to the conferences. Therein lies the rub: A tournament without auto-bids can’t happen, and a tournament with auto-bids would suck. I’m not strongly in favor of the MGoPlayoff, because restricting to 6 teams seems a little small to me, and I think the difference between 2 home games and 1 home game (between the 1-2 seeds and the 3-4 seeds, as opposed to 1 home game with a bye for the top dogs) is incentive enough to be in those top 2, both from a competitive and (perhaps much, much more importantly – think of a team finishing the year with 10 home games(!)) financial standpoint.

So, what does it all mean? I guess very little, other than your standard off-season musing about the merits of a playoff. Because if Congress doesn’t intervene, it ain’t happenin’.

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