It may come as a surprise to Brian Cook, but evidently you can find postings on the Internet by people who are anti-playoff without being pro-BCS. Besides me, that is.
Bill Connelly put this out today, for example.
… There are legitimate arguments for keeping the current system in place, but yesterday’s egregious USA Today column from BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock didn’t actually touch on any of them. Instead, it just infuriated me.
Bill may have in mind something like what Teddy Greenstein wrote in the Chicago Tribune yesterday.
… So it’s a 16-team playoff — as the book “Death to the BCS” endorses — or bust. And a 16-teamer, in my book, would water down the regular season.
Instead of a compelling weekly drama, dozens of games would be reduced to glorified exhibitions. Auburn-Alabama and the SEC title game were must-see TV because the Tigers were playing for their lives, not a playoff seed.
No other sport has this. In the NFL, some teams use Weeks 16 and 17 to rest their starters. Borderline .500 teams can make the NBA and NHL playoffs. Yet some cry about 6-6 teams playing in bowl games that have no bearing on the national title.
In college basketball, teams toil for four months for the sake of seeding. Did it matter that Michigan State lost to Syracuse on Tuesday? What was at stake, the chance to move up or down a line in the NCAA tournament bracket? When two top-10 teams square off in college football, it’s compelling.
That’s about as succinctly stated a diminish-the-regular-season argument as I’ve seen. (Although I don’t agree with his assumption about a four-team playoff.)
This is on the mark, too.
The playoff crowd argues the BCS is not a fair way to determine a champion. But would it be fair to Auburn or Oregon — the nation’s best teams throughout the season — to have to win four more games to claim a national title?
With a 16-team playoff that has 11 conference champions and five at-large teams, Auburn might have to beat two-loss teams such as Arkansas and LSU — again. Same goes for Oregon, which already beat Stanford.
You know who makes a 16-team playoff? Sun Belt champion Florida International (6-6) and Mid-American champ Miami of Ohio (9-4). But a team from the at-large pool of Stanford, Ohio State, Michigan State, Arkansas, LSU and Boise State would not. Is that fair?
When college football crowns its champion Jan. 10, Auburn or Oregon will be the undisputed best team. Compare that with baseball, where the 2006 Cardinals can go 83-78, get hot in the postseason and end up guzzling champagne.
Greenstein’s third point, that an extended playoff would not be a boon to fans who now travel to bowl games, sort of touches on a tradeoff that I’m not sure playoff proponents have thoroughly considered. The larger a playoff field gets, the more difficult it becomes for the fans of a program to travel to its postseason games. The likely response to that would be to propose shifting more of the postseason to schools’ home fields, but that plays right into Hancock’s position that a playoff would adversely affect the bowls. You can dodge that whole thing by keeping the field smaller than eight, but…