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College Football Playoffs? Not for me, Thank you

by Randy Snow

Originally posted on AmericanChronicle.com, Wednesday, December 16, 2009


It's that time of year again. The college football regular season is over, the bowl games are set and every call-in, sports-talk wannabe is crying because there is no playoff system. Well boo-frickety-hoo.

Every Monday morning quarterback is once again coming out of the woodwork saying that they have a solution that will fix everything, and all of their ideas stink. Most of the playoff proposals that I have heard involve four to eight teams. Really? Come on, there are 120 teams in Division I-A, or the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) as it is now being referred to by the NCAA, and only eight teams get to be involved in the playoffs? That's only 6.5% of all the teams. What about the other 112 teams? That would make their season's pretty much meaningless, year in and year out? Why even bother with ranking teams in the Top 25 only eight teams matter? Get real, people. If you want to have a playoff, then it would have to be done right or not at all.

Personally, I like the bowl system. It is unique in all of sports and has a history that dates back to 1902 and the very first Rose Bowl. Are there too many bowl games today? Absolutely. This year, there are 34 bowl games meaning that 68 teams play an extra post-season game. That's over half of the teams in Division I-A (FBS) and that's just way too many. Most of them are a waste of time; An at-large team with a 6-6 record taking on the seventh bowl eligible team from a designated conference? What kind of a power matchup is that? I say, if you don't finish in the top three of your conference, sorry, better luck next season.

The Rose Bowl has it right, the winner of the Pac-10 and the winner of the Big Ten meet in the bowl game. End of discussion! They may not be playing for a national championship every year, but these two conferences have the Rose Bowl in their sights from day one each season and that is an admirable goal to have. More bowls should be set up like that.

I don't believe that team's with a 6-6 record deserves to go to a bowl game. This year there are eight 6-6 teams in bowl games, not counting Notre Dame who, at 6-6, decided not to play in a bowl game. A minimum record of 7-5 should be required. I think 20 bowl games would be plenty. That would account for all the teams in the Top 25 as well as another 15 with winning records. Forty teams would be about 33% of the teams in Division I-A (FBS).

As far as a national championship goes, I would have a 21st bowl game and the participants would not be determined until after the other 20 bowl games are played. That way, a team that is ranked fifth or sixth might actually have a chance to jump up to number one or two in the final poll depending on the outcome of several other bowl games. This would give more meaning to many of the 20 bowl games. The national championship bowl could be played on the weekend before the Super Bowl when there are no NFL games being played. And for gosh sakes, let the first 20 bowl games all be done on January 1st! There are plenty of college all star games that can be played the rest of the month.

And another thing, there are currently three polls that are put out weekly throughout the college football season, the Associated Press Poll, the USAToday/Coaches poll and the BCS poll. Why? That's how you end up with split national champions sometimes, because they don't always agree. You only need one poll and it should not start until the season is at the halfway point. The BCS Poll is the only one that really matters anyway.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear, I like the bowl system, but I don't like the BCS. It is an unfair system that controls the five big money bowl games and caters to the six "elite" BCS conferences; the Big 10, Pac-10, ACC, SEC, Big 12, Big East and, of course, Notre Dame, which is an independent team. Yeah, that sounds fair… for them!


The BCS kind of reminds me of the book, Animal Farm, by George Orwell. In the book, the animals take over working the farm after they chase off the cruel human owners. The animals come up with several commandments to insure fairness to all. However those commandments get amended as certain animals begin to take positions of authority within the animal hierarchy. In the end, one of the commandments reads, "All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others."

Lower Division Playoffs

The biggest gripe I hear every year is people saying, "They have playoffs in all the other divisions. Why can't the top tier have a playoff system too?" While it is true that all the other divisions in college football have playoffs, let's take a look at just how those playoffs work, shall we?

First, let's look at Division I-AA, or as the NCAA is calling it now, the Football Championship Sub-Division (FCS). There are 13 conferences, excluding the Ivy League which does not participate in the playoffs. There is roughly the same number of teams as in Division I-A (FBS) and 30 teams qualify for the playoffs! That's 26% of the teams in the division.

In Division II, there are about 150 teams in 14 conferences and 24 teams qualify for the playoffs, or 17%. In Division III, there are about 240 teams in 27 divisions and 30 teams make the playoffs, or 13%. Even the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), which has about 92 teams, 16 teams qualify for the playoffs. That's 17.5%. The one thing that all of these divisions have in common is that every team has an equal opportunity to qualify for the playoffs, regardless of what conference they play in.

Heck, even in the 32-team NFL, 12 teams qualify the playoffs, which is 37.5%. So, any real playoff system at the Division I-A (FBS) level would have to include at least 30 teams, which would take five weeks to complete. The level of competition in Division I-A (FBS) is the closest thing there is to the NFL. To ask these college kids to put their bodies on the line for the extra five weeks required in order to have a true playoff system is nuts, especially if they hope to go on and play in the NFL. Contrary to popular believe, these are still college kids, not pro athletes. And here is another shocker for ya, most of these kids will never play a down in the NFL!

In college basketball, 65 teams compete in the NCAA Tournament and you still have people screaming every year because certain teams got left out. Another 32 basketball teams compete in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) as well. College basketball can handle 97 teams in two tournaments each year because teams can play a couple of games each week. That just is not possible in football. Is an eight team playoff going to satisfy everyone? Wake up people. The bowl system insures the greatest number of participants in the top level of college football. The regular season is more important in college football because you only get one game per week. It's about annual rivalries, history, tradition and bragging rights. Once that is done, you reward the best teams with a bowl game.

So I say keep the bowl system in place, but make it meaningful to all 120 teams, not just a select few.



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