John Feinstein ♥ brackets.

John Feinstein manages to distill all of the “here’s why we need a playoff” stupidity in the college football universe into one supremely obnoxious column.

Let’s check off the list of ingredients. First, the traditional airing of grievances:

  • People who know nothing decide who gets to play in the MNC game? Check.
  • A craptastic team like Hawaii goes undefeated and doesn’t get a shot? Check.
  • There are untold riches for college football to tap with a playoff? Check.
  • Money grubbing college presidents? Check.

Festivus occurs in the middle of what would be the extended college playoff schedule. Coincidence? I think not.

Next, dismiss those who don’t see eye to eye with you on the subject as irrational idiots.

Every single reasonable person in the country knows the BCS is the single worst creation there is in sports.

Game, set, match.  The jig is up for those of us who can’t (or won’t) appreciate the simple truth.  Feinstein actually uses the phrase “It’s that easy”. Hey, it just might be –  if you can ignore those pesky antitrust laws:

… All Brand has to do is use his influence as the NCAA president to get the non-BCS presidents to vote on one simple amendment to the NCAA charter: If a school wishes to participate in one NCAA-sanctioned tournament, it must participate in all NCAA-sanctioned tournaments. That would mean that if the NCAA started a football playoff for its division I-A member schools, all schools would have to take part or lose their shot at making the NCAA basketball tournament…

Anyone care to guess what the BCS schools would do roughly five minutes after the non-BCS schools waived that water pistol in their faces?

Oh, but how could they not love a playoff format like this?

The best number for the tournament would be 12. Why? Because that way, the argument that the BCS system makes the regular season important would go away. Four teams would get byes — you think that would make every game important? Four teams would host first round games — you think that would make every game important? And the last four spots would be up for grabs — think that would make every game important?

Does anyone have a clue what his criteria are for making the tourney? Maybe every game would be important because no one would have any idea what would make a school eligible.

The second most pathetic part of his article is Feinstein’s fervent desire to have college football emulate March Madness…

What makes the basketball tournament magical isn’t Florida winning back-to-back titles or Duke and Arizona making the tournament for the umpteenth year in a row; it is George Mason making the Final Four. It is Virginia Commonwealth beating Duke and Winthrop beating Notre Dame. You might not get upsets quite like that in football, but South Florida beating Southern Cal (or LSU or Ohio State, take your pick) or Hawaii playing a 48-45 game against Michigan or Oklahoma, would be pretty close to comparably cool…

because, after all, every regular season college basketball game is so important these days.  But who needs a meaningful regular season when you’ve got brackets to fill out!

The saddest thing, though, is the anger. We’re enjoying one of the wildest, craziest seasons known to fandom in more than two decades, and it ain’t good enough for him. In fact, it sucks. What college football really needs to make Feinstein a happy camper is a train wreck.

… Let’s hope that South Florida wins out and there are a half-dozen teams with one loss. Let’s see what the reaction is when the computer picks — just for argument’s sake — LSU, and Ohio State, Oklahoma, Boston College, Southern Cal and West Virginia, all with one loss, are told to enjoy their bowl trips but, sorry, you can’t play for the national title.

Yeah – that’ll teach us a lesson. How dare we enjoy what’s transpired so far.

When you’ve gotten to the point that you take more pleasure from imagining the negative impact of a fictional scenario than the actual play on the field… well, that’s pretty much the textbook definition of an asshole. When he’s 80, Feinstein will be the cranky old fart sitting in the stands yelling at everyone around him to sit down so he can watch the game.

But he’ll leave with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter so he can beat the traffic home.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles

11 responses to “John Feinstein ♥ brackets.

  1. scdawg

    First he argues college presidents only care about money, and that’s what’s preventing playoffs. Then he argues they could make so much more money if they “were willing to give up just a little bit of the absolute power they currently wield.”

    Which is it? Is it money or a refusal to loosen their grip on power that’s preventing them from having a playoff? Then he channels Bill O’Reilly and argues they are hiding under their desks. What? And four teams have bye games? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.


  2. My biggest beef is exactly what you said. “Who gets in?” If you made everyone sign an agreement saying that if they participate in 1 tourney they must participate in all, then OBVIOUSLY you would have to give all league champs access to the post-season.

    That’s what basketball does. Well, there are 11 Div I conferences and a group of independents. He only sees 12 tourney seeds in his tourney.

    So he’s willing to make room for ECU, BYU and Troy at the expense of ASU, South Carolina and West Virginia?

    And that makes sense to him?


  3. Well, I doubt it would ever get that far, to be honest.

    If the NCAA tried to pull something like that, the BCS conferences would either file the mother of all sports related antitrust suits, or secede from the NCAA altogether. So, it’s not that Brand is craven; he’s simply not stupid about this, unlike Feinstein.


  4. Frank

    What’s with this comment: ” They have also long ago forfeited the right to make any claims about football becoming too “commercial,” given that most have sold naming rights to their stadiums…”

    Looks like Mr. Feinstein is writing out of his ass with no factual info, much like our friend Stewie Mandel. I’m not up on every school’s history, but most (actually all of them but two) look like traditional names, not corporate sponsors. That is if you don’t included Sanford Acme Products Stadium. Just my two cents…


  5. “Looks like Mr. Feinstein is writing out of his ass with no factual info…”

    You could pretty much say that about the entire article.


  6. You guys are damn morons.

    1. Fans want it. You know, the people that pay the ticket prices, watch the games on television, and support the teams? Consistently people want to see the teams duke it out on the field like every other league in the United States

    2. The parity in college football has gotten so close that a playoff HAS to come about. The distance between the schools at the top and the schools in the middle is closing more and more every single year. With 400 college football games on ESPN every year college recruits can essentially choose where they want to go. In fact, I’m watching South Florida and Rutgers right now. Two teams you didn’t see on national television even five years ago. A top prospect from tampa can either go to Florida, LSU, Miami……or South Florida. A place he can win and be close to home. Hell, look at Boise State, how do you think they got where they’re at? Exposure. Either way, even the top schools have 85 scholarships each year, but there’s about 5,000 top notch recruits. They cant all go to USC and it’s clear they haven’t, just look at the top 10 this year.

    3.The reason Feinstein mentioned the money twice is because university presidents have become so greedy they wouldn’t dare do something that would take away the money. most fans don’t care how much money is going to schools per se so long as it’s fair. The BCS is the antithesis of fair.

    4. A 16 team playoff and even a 12 team playoff would be too much. Make it 8 teams. It would accomplish a couple things. One, it would still make every game important. with 119 division 1 schools and only 8 spots, game won’t lose their luster.
    4a. Two, teams like Ohio State won’t schedule cupcakes like Youngstown State, and LSU won’t schedule Troy. A playoff system would force teams to schedule good teams so that way if two teams end up 10 and 2, they would be able to look at the schedule and see who had more quality wins. It would still be arbitrary, but it would be much clearer than now.

    5. Some people feel like the last two games would probably lose their significance. bullcrap. what’s the one thing, despite his national championship, despite his winning record, and despite his prestige, gets more crap for not winning his last game: Lloyd Carr. That last game for almost every school is that rivalry game, the most important game whether or not you’re 1 1 and o or o and 11. You have to win that game to be successful, playoffs or not

    6. a playoff is fair. Never in my life have I seen a SPLIT NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. What ajoke

    7. It would be way more intersting to actually watch the games instead of have a bunch of sports radio geeks talk about all of the controversy. I’m not interested in what they think because it’s all speculation. Let the games be played out on the field. Give the fans what they want.

    8. People say that “each game is like a playoff right now.” Really? So you’re telling me that UL-Layfayette and Georgia is somehow a playoff game? On what planet? Planet Dull most likely. Teams are so afraid of losing that these cupcakes actually take away from the excitement, not add to it.

    9. The current bowl system is laughable. You hear jerks saying “well, the current bowl system has great tradition blah blah blah.” A tradition of what? Selling out? Not being watched? Rewarding 7-5 under achieving teams? What good does the bowl do? It’s irrelevant, boring, and unwatchable, but hey, IT’S TRADITION!

    10. Keep the BCS ranking system. It will be able to rank the 8 best teams in the country and exclude the rest. Ranking 119 teams ins’t easy and a computer does it without bias. Just don’t use it to schedule the supposed two best teams. If a big east team goes 11-0, but they’ve been playing scrubs for all of those games, who says they deserve a shot? Give it to the teams that played the toughest schedule and had the best record. This will really prove which conferences are tougher and force weak ass Big 10 teams to get their act together.

    We need a playoff. They would be fun, profitable, interesting, and definitive. I think you want to keep it because this blog would disappear….


  7. dolan, thanks for dropping in. Believe it or not, I appreciate the passion in your argument. At least you didn’t mention filling out brackets. 😉

    Seriously, I’m not opposed to a D-1 football playoff, at least conceptually. I am opposed to weak-assed arguments for a playoff, which Feinstein’s certainly is.


  8. hammerhead

    Alright, damn… I guess I gotta go read Feinstein’s crap… I’ll be back in a jiffy to add my 2 cents… Or I may just finish this bottle o’ wine, crash, get outta bed at an insane hour and pack the car, go to Athens, watch Georgia beat the ‘Cats… and THEN debate this further…

    Hey Senator – great blog – love the pic of Dooley and James Brown.


  9. hammerhead

    Ok – I’ve read as much of Feinstein’s article as I can pay attention to… Not much new info in there; pretty much the same argument we’ve heard for, what, the last 10-12 years?

    The “train has done run” on this subject. The SEC Championship game started it, followed by the Big 12 and more recently the ACC. Each of these conferences have a championship game and they serve as a sort of shiny new “on- ramp” to an interstate that has yet to be built. Each champion reaches the end of this ramp only to be diverted to a Chamber of Commerce creation like the Rose, Sugar, or Orange Bowl. Or, if they’re really lucky and have scheduled accordingly, the BCS Championship Game. This will afford them the opportunity to play for the coveted “Circuit City Trophy”. It’s just a crummy way to end the season.

    There are a million ways to draw up the brackets and debate the number of teams included (I am a proponent of a minimum of 8), but the truth of the matter, we need a champion determined on the field. And, yes, there will be a very good team at #9 that gets screwed, but that’ll give everyone that all important “debate factor” that all the anti-playoff people holler about… We should debate WHO should be in the playoff, but there should be no debate when it comes to a system to determine a NCAA Division I (or whatever they now call it) Football Champion.



  10. hammerhead

    Each… has… not have… durnit…


  11. Pingback: It’s a fair cop. « Get The Picture