If every other sport has a playoff…

Pat Forde thinks that Stony Brook’s off-the-wall appearance in this year’s College World Series should be an inspiration to the suits planning the new football postseason.

Quite simply, Forde wants Cinderella to go to the ball.

But a four-team deal certainly presents no opportunity to the Stony Brooks of college football. The champions of the Sun Belt, Mid-American Conference, Conference USA and Western Athletic Conference (should it survive) never will make that cut. The Mountain West and even the Big East would be long shots.

Football, greedy and decentralized, doesn’t care.

Meanwhile, the rest of college sports give the little guys a chance to do it on the field. It gives life to the overachiever stories that are a large part of what makes sports compelling.

Yeah, that’s been college football’s big problem.  It hasn’t been compelling enough without Troy in a playoff.

From there, it’s a course in Wetzellian regular season “integrity”.

There are 11 conferences. Take the champions of each and add one at-large team. You don’t think that would still put a premium on the regular season? That wouldn’t make winning a conference championship important?

A selection committee chooses the at-large teams and seeds the field. The top four seeds get a first-round bye. Seeds 9-12 play on the road against seeds 5-8 in the first round, then the top four hosts the winners of those games in quarterfinals.

Say you end up with No. 12 seed Florida International at No. 5 Michigan in the first round. And say FIU wins. The impact would be Stony Brook on steroids.

I’m not sure why it’s so hard to understand why that wouldn’t be the case, but let me add one more thing here, since Forde brought up college baseball.  Stony Brook may have been perceived as a long shot because of where it’s located and because it played a weak schedule, but it had to earn a spot in Omaha by grinding through two rounds of double-elimination play.  That’s not going to happen in a single-elimination football tourney.

Not that Forde is bothered by the distinction.  In fact, if anything, he’d prefer to enhance it.

It would take four weekends to play the tournament, five if you give the final twosome two weeks to rest and prepare, like the NFL. If that’s too long for the coaches and academicians to handle, there is a solution. Dump conference championship games and free up the first weekend of December.

I’ll never understand how all these people who profess their undying love for college football are so eager to undo its uniqueness.  But at least we’ll get brackets!

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “If every other sport has a playoff…

  1. Beard Dawg

    Right. Because dumping the conference chapionship games would make everybody happy. Let’s let them settle it on the field by not letting them settle it on the field. Genius!

  2. Cojones

    They did it to LSU today, so SB is still in it!

  3. Dawg93

    Forde is way off here, but are we really surprised? The two biggest issues I see when trying to compare college football and college baseball:

    1. Baseball is a game of streaks – a couple of hot pitchers and/or hot hitters can power a great late season or playoff run. In football you might have a QB with a hot hand but ultimately there are too many other components involved for a QB to simply dominate and cause a football team to make a playoff run.

    2. In college baseball, there are so many teams that it means a team from a big conference has very few common opponents with a smaller conference team. So it’s a lot harder to compare a team like LSU with a team like Stony Brook based on their regular season results. You have to have a bigger tournament in baseball because of this. Same thing with basketball, although 64 is probably too big for that sport, IMO.

    The other thing that annoys me about the whole “give Cinderella a chance!” thing is that the number of times a true Cinderella team actually wins a title in any non-professional sport is too rare to cause expansion of the playoffs to make sure those types of teams are included. And frankly I think some of the results of pro sports’ playoffs give credence to whether wild card teams are a good idea. At the end of the 2011 regular season, did anyone think St. Louis was the best team in baseball? Or at the end of the 2008 (I think that was the year) season when the Pats were finishing off a 16-0 perfect regular season in the Meadowlands by beating the Giants that the Giants were the best team in the NFL that year? It may be “fun” to watch those teams pull upsets and make a championship run, but does that mean they “deserve” to be in that playoff? I don’t think it does. I think the same applies to college football. Let’s hope they don’t turn a 4-team playoff into a 16-team playoff.

  4. This is astoundingly stupid on Forde’s part. It’s simply impossible to make coherent comparisons of this sort between college football and college baseball due to intrinsic differences between the sports.

  5. pantslesspatdye

    “Take the champions of each and add one at-large team. You don’t think that would still put a premium on the regular season? That wouldn’t make winning a conference championship important?”

    “Dump conference championship games and free up the first weekend of December.”

    I’m confused. Only the champs get to go, but no championship game. There would be tied conference champs every year in one/several of the big conferences. Either he likes chaos and uncompelling games or he typed this one up on the fly.

  6. Merk

    Everyone loves cinderella…until she gets to the big dance and no one shows up to watch. They forget that basketball arenas are a lot smaller than football stadiums.

    How bout we just divide the conferences into 2 sides…SEC + Big 12 & Pac 12 + Big 10. Then they can take turns choosing what other conferences get into which side. Then after all is said and done both can do whatever the hell they want to get a champion. Then you have a superbowl of sorts with the champ of each side facing off. Thus that side getting bragging rights til the next year.

  7. Go Dawgs!

    Winning a national championship is great. But I have really gotten to the point where all I really care about in college football is beating our biggest rivals and winning the SEC. Everything else is just gravy. Especially when you consider the fact that the last two national champions have had people seriously questioning their credentials (for “CamGate” and then “Should They Even Be Here-Gate”) the national championship simply isn’t what matters in college football unless you’re the team that wins it.

    So, anything that takes away from the nature of college football in order to add “legitimacy” to the national championship is pretty worthless to me.