Man, talk about throwing down the gauntlet.
I cannot possibly say this with as much emphasis as it deserves:
The only reason any given college football fan does not support the dissolution of the current system for selecting a national champion is because their team has not gone undefeated and been given no opportunity to become that champion.
(It is my firm belief that if Auburn 2004 had been Florida 2004 or Michigan 2004 or Ohio St. 2004, if Texas, USC, and Penn St. had all finished undefeated this season, the outcry would have been such that this would hardly even be a debate any longer. A part of me desperately wants to see Georgia go undefeated and finish outside the BCS top two, just to see what our anti-playoff Dawg friends would say.)
Now I’ll be the first to admit that my psyche has never been scarred in the way that every sentient being whose heart resided on the Plains for that 2004 season claims his or hers has been – although I’ll always believe that said beings are in a much better place now than they would have been had their team been on the butt-end of a 30+ point crushing by Southern Cal (a debate for another day, I’m afraid) – but I’ve gotta reiterate that when it comes to this whole BCS/playoffs debate, I absolutely hate the whole “end justifies the means” approach to a solution.
Because in this case, at least, the ends don’t justify it. Nobody can sit here with a straight face and convince me that a sixty four-team tourney is going to make a better world for college football and us because, by God, Auburn 2004 will never happen again. And Georgia going undefeated without playing for the MNC won’t change that.
I fear that Jerry misunderstands my position. I’m not, as he asserts, anti-playoff. It’s more accurate to describe me as indifferent to a national championship playoff. What I’m strongly opposed to is an extended playoff. There’s a big difference between the two, in my book. I don’t want anyone messing with college football’s greatest asset, the regular season, and I don’t see how you can get to the realm of a ten, or twelve or more school-tourney without jeopardizing that.
And here’s the problem with proposals like Jerry’s (which is well-reasoned, not to take anything away from it) or the plus-one, for that matter. They’re subjective. You’ll still have poll voters and computers grinding away deciding which schools are worthy. Which means in the end all you’ll do is modify the debate. Which likely means more compromise, which will be easier to achieve once a formal playoff structure is in place. Which means a larger tournament. Which will feed the cycle all over again. Can you say brackets? I thought you could.
That’s why I like an eight-team conference champs-only tournament (my usual qualifier about tweaking the conferences applies, of course). You get an objective standard that doesn’t diminish the import of the regular season and you end 99.9% of the bitching. (John Feinstein will find something to complain about no matter what.) You also come up with a format that will be much harder to expand than any based even partially on subjective factors.
But the thing is that it doesn’t matter what I or Jerry think. This whole postseason retooling deal is going to be driven by two factors: money and power. Coincidently, those are items that are in exceedingly short supply for every college football blogger, commenter and pundit that I know of (including me, damnit). Let me say that again. We don’t matter. What any of us may think is a reasonable and satisfactory solution to this whole postseason debate is completely irrelevant to what the actual decision makers will weigh in fashioning their brave new world.
And that’s what really gets me the most. All of those parties we rail against on a regular basis and maybe even despise a little – Jim Delany, ESPN, Michael Adams, moronic athletic directors, to name but a few – these are the same folks we’re putting our hopes in for something better for the postseason? What in the hell are most of us thinking?
I’m sorry, that’s a leap of faith I can’t take.
Jerry wants to see what my take would be if Georgia got screwed after an undefeated regular season. What I wouldn’t want to see is Jerry’s take on a regular season after a sixteen-team tourney was implemented. Because I bet he’d agree with me more about that than he cares to admit today.