The attraction of upsets

Jon Solomon, on the superiority of the NFL postseason to that of D-1 football’s:

… Why must we accept in college football that upsets are somehow inherently bad? Upsets are why we watch sports. Anything can happen.

Believe it or not, that’s an argument I can respect, even if I disagree strongly with it.  It has the virtue of being coherent.  Plus, I expect it resonates more with the casual sports fan than “Auburn 2004” does.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

15 responses to “The attraction of upsets

  1. Regular Guy

    I agree, Senator. I pretty much share your views on the downfalls of a playoff, but I do think there is merit in the argument of how everyone loves to see the underdog pull the big upset. I still don’t think that a top-2 team that has gone through a brutal regular season schedule should have to go out and try to win against, say, the Sun Belt conference champ in the first round of a playoff. But I also understand how huge of a story it would be if that Sun Belt team actually pulled off the upset.


    • I hit on this in a previous post, but the big problem with the upset scenario is that there’s a lot more parity in the NFL than there is in college.


      • Regular Guy

        Very true, it’s hard to directly compare the two if for no other reason than one has just over 30 teams, and the other has about 90 more.

        Hey, something odd is going on with the site. I can see your two posts from this morning in my RSS feed, but if I just pull up, the most recent post is yesterday’s buffet. I tried it in Firefox and Explorer, same result for both.


        • That’s weird. Today’s posts come up fine in my browser. I’ll keep an eye on it, thanks.


        • Dawgfan Will

          This happens on my work computer all the time. Try clicking on the header on the site; it usually updates the page for me. I don’t know why this happens.


          • Regular Guy

            Yeah I tried all that, but it wouldn’t show it. I had not been on the computer since Friday, and it was showing the Sunday post, just not the ones from today. It started showing them a little before noon though, so I’m good to go. Thanks for the advice though!


  2. FisheriesDawg

    Everybody loves an upset until you’re the superior team and get the rug yanked out from underneath you. My epiphany was the 2008 college world series. The pain of having everything going for us and still losing the finals series combined with all of the jackass Nebraskans who suddenly adopted Fresno State as their own (for no reason other than Fresno having sucked all season until the tournament) has helped me to hate underdogs unless they do something that directly helps my team.


    • fuelk2

      Yup, entertainment and a good story is one thing.

      Allowing a team that barely got by in the regular season to win a national championship is another.

      Those who want to tune in at the end of the year and be entertained may want one thing, while those of us who passionately follow a sport for the entire season may want another. We probably appreciate the accomplishments of the top teams during the regular season a little bit more.


  3. GreenDawg

    I, like you, can actually respect this argument. At least he is calling a spade a spade.

    The argument does go against any other CFB playoff argument I’ve ever heard though. Every other argument says we need a playoff because the current system doesn’t determine the “best team”. Well, does anyone think that the Packers or Steelers were the hands down best team this year? The fact is that the more teams you put in a playoff, the less of a chance you have of the “best team” actually winning.

    That’s why I support maybe a 4-team playoff or a plus one system, but an 8 or 16 team playoff would simply be a tragedy.


  4. jerome

    When can Boise State 2009 or TCU 2010 start getting any traction?


    • Macallanlover

      They are Co-Champs to me when anyone names another team, but really they are all pretenders to me. Conference champs? Yes, although The aU should be stripped of their claim.


  5. Bulldog Joe

    Good article. The writer makes good points in favor of the NFL’s system.

    While reading this, keep in mind the SEC office looks at upsets as costing them money and will do most anything to keep them from happening.


    • That worked really well in 2007.


      • Bulldog Joe

        I suspect Arkansas’ late season upset of LSU raised some lost-BCS-revenue concerns in Birmingham that year. But it ultimately worked out when other conferences all had their own late season upsets (except of course, the Big Ten, who didn’t play any late season games).

        The SEC got its two BCS teams and a piece of the national title revenue.

        It was the next two seasons that began the string of late-game controversial calls, all favoring the higher-ranked team. This season, we get the “see no evil, he didn’t know it was going on, you didn’t get your paperwork in on time to investigate” rope-a-dope.


    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      If by “do most anything” you mean using its crooked refs to fix games in order to maximize bowl revenue I believe you are right.