Playoffs?! Not in college football

first_imgWhere did autumn go? Since when did the year only have three seasons?Somehow, defying the physics and logic of the seasonal calendar, Old Man Winter decided to butt autumn in line and just take over after summer. It has been snowing on and off for weeks. We all but missed the leaves turning shades of Arizona State gold, Stanford cardinal and what can only be described as Cleveland Browns orange, then fall to the ground, thus leading to grumbling fathers everywhere re-rake leaf piles children have just dived into. Where did it all go? The only clue that it is still technically fall is the college football season. And what is fall without football? And once more, what is fall football without the obligatory bashing of the BCS? The answer to that second query is “perfect.”The common argument is that college football needs to adopt a playoff system to crown its national champion, just as every other major college sport does.For the answer, I will turn over the pulpit to former NFL head coach Jim Mora, in one of his classic media meltdowns: “Playoffs? Don’t talk about playoffs. Are you kidding me? Playoffs?”That’s right. Keep the playoff system out of college football. Spare me that entire “undisputed national champion” boloney and all the jazz about “deciding it on the field.” The bowl system has been around forever and it should continue to define college football. Bowl games are college football, just like Urkel was “Family Matters” or how the marshmallows are the Lucky Charms (what is the cereal stuff made out of in that crazy Leprechaun’s concoction anyway, cardboard?). First off, playoff advocates point to split national titles as the reason that the bowl system is not working. What is so wrong with a split national title? Sure, it is nice when there is a clear-cut national champ, but controversy is just as much a part of college football as meat is part of meatloaf. And even if there were a playoff system, the controversy wouldn’t disappear. Let’s say you have a four-team playoff. The fifth- and sixth-place teams that are left out of the playoff would be just as fiercely debated as who the No. 2 or No. 3 team is in the BCS system today, if not worse. Just look at the heated discussions surrounding March Madness — and that is a 64-team pool, not four or eight. Not that the controversy is such a bad thing. On the contrary, it is a necessity. There are 119 teams in Division-I, and there is no way they can all play each other, so debating, yelling and arguing have always been the most sensible ways to crown a national champion. The sport of college football would never be the same without the office water cooler and the talk surrounding it. College football without controversy: Who could ask for anything worse?So you want more games to decide a champion? How many extra games are you willing to throw at amateur athletes, whose bodies aren’t prepared to handle 16 or 17 games. Hell, how many humans period have bodies prepared to handle 16 or 17 ferociously physical football games? It would be unfair, and borderline cruel to do that, not to mention all the extra class time student athletes would miss (no jokes here, they’re supposed to be in school).Plus, if college football adopts a playoff system, what makes it any different from the NFL? With the entire NFL-esque rule changes the NCAA adopted this year, this is even more of an issue. If college football tries to emulate the NFL it becomes a junior league with junior players and little more, much like the minors in baseball or even worse, hockey.Bring in a playoff system and the game loses touch with its greatest attribute: tradition. College football is firmly founded on pride, pageantry, unity and most of all tradition. Since 1915, bowl games have been the prize for student athletes after a successful season, 21 years longer than there has been an AP national championship. Many of the greatest moments in college football history have come in bowl games: Joe Montana being revitalized by chicken soup; Penn State’s defense picking off Vinny Testaverde five times to pull a stunning upset; Tom Osbourne and Nebraska going for a two-point conversion to lose the championship; the spectacle of the Rose Bowl; the annual offensive fireworks at the Holiday Bowl; and the double-overtime thriller between Miami and Ohio State in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl.Take away the tradition and replace it with playoffs, and suddenly college football isn’t college football anymore; it is just the NFL’s little brother. So maybe you want to keep the bowls, but just make them part of the playoffs? Nice try, but it wouldn’t be the same. Schools from the Big Ten and Pac-10 wouldn’t be shooting for a trip to a Rose Bowl, but simply to reach the playoffs. Suddenly, the end of season schedule wouldn’t matter very much.Which leads us to why the BCS really isn’t so bad. The BCS setup isn’t perfect — any system that has the Rose Bowl not being played between the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions is far from it. However, the BCS has managed to pair two of the top, if not the top college football teams in a game for a piece of the national championship year-in and year-out, without doing away with the bowl system and at the very least deserves an A for effort. Okay, maybe a B, as Nebraska in 2002 and Oklahoma in 2004 played for the national title despite losing their conference titles. But even in those two instances, the undeserving team lost, and according to the general consensus, they were still two of the best teams in the nation. The BCS system, for all of its B.S., is still infinitely more favorable than any playoff system. So please, argue all you want about who should be ranked where and who should advance to Pasadena this year; it’s all part of the game. But when the word “playoffs” enters the debate and isn’t followed by “are a terrible idea,” do your part to put an end to this fall tradition of lobbying for a post-season tournament, ensuring the continuance of the most wonderful season of the year, after autumn: bowl season.Dave McGrath is a senior majoring in English and Journalism. If you’d like to argue erroneously for a playoff system, or just love Jim Mora, you can reach him at dmcgrath@badgerherald.com.last_img

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