Expanded playoffs and short attention span theater

I like John Pennington, but this argument leaves me scratching my head:

While an eight-team field is most likely on the way — at least according to those ADs polled by CBSSports.com — the most probable opposition to such a move will go a little something like this: “Expanding the playoffs will lesson the importance of the regular season, just like basketball.”

But would it?

Basketball is a sport that stretches for over six months from November through the first Monday in April.  The regular season itself consists of 30+ games.  What happens pre-New Year’s can mean zip by the time February rolls ’round.  In other words, the basketball regular season is not meaningless because it ends in a tournament… it’s meaningless because it’s too darn long.  Football wouldn’t have such a problem.  Football’s regular season typically lasts about four months and that’s including two-week dead period in early-to-mid-December.

By the end of a football season, many a fan can tell you the result and correct score from each of his favorite team’s 12 regular-season games.  Try that with a basketball fan.  Not even folks in the Bluegrass State could pull off that feat. Basketball has too many games.  There’s too much to process.

Well, either he underestimates the cognitive abilities of Kentucky fans, or the CBB regular season has been relatively meaningless for an awfully long time, because the vast majority of NCAA champs have played over thirty games in a season since Oregon did it in 1939.

It’s not the basketball regular season that’s been growing.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

5 responses to “Expanded playoffs and short attention span theater

  1. Keese

    Right now you have good teams that get a loss or two during the season and the best you can hope for is what…a nice bowl game? What a reward for the players and fans

    IMO 8 team playoff will increase the importance/significance/fan interest of each Saturday during the regular season.


  2. jeff

    If “what happens pre-New Year’s means zip” Georgia would have been dancing this season.


  3. Macallanlover

    While Pennington is right about the number of games being a factor, by far the critical issue that devalues the regular season in most sports is the degree of inclusiveness. Staying below 10 percent is a decent standard, which college football more than meets at 8 teams. Baseball has the most games numerically but could make each series more impactful if there were only four winners. By playing 162 games and allowing a third of the teams a pass into the playoffs, individual games lose their intensity and players take games off. No danger of that in CFB in the foreseeable future.


  4. I’ve come to accept the inevitable expansion, and I am ok at 8 teams. The main thing I don’t want to ever happen in college football is a team be able to lose multiple times to the same team, yet end up winning the title. This year’s basketball championship game was a prime example. UConn lost three times to Louisville, UK lost to Florida three times, yet there were the losers playing for the title while the teams who had proven clearly superior were at home.

    To me the football equivalent would be something along the lines of Florida losing to LSU in both the regular season and the SEC Conf Champ game, but the pool being large enough that UF could still make the playoffs and remain an obstacle on LSU’s march to the title. A 4 team playoff prevents that from happening most likely. But even at 8 teams, you run the chance of that happening. I mean, if UF is 11-2 with their only losses being to an undefeated or one loss LSU, it’s entirely likely they would still be in the top 8. In my mind tho, LSU would have earned the right in that scenario that they shouldn’t have to try to potentially beat the same team for the third time.

    But then, if you excluded UF, you could run the risk of another one or two loss SEC team that didn’t make it to the SECCG (say, a one or two loss UGA team that lost to UF during the season) making it into the playoffs ahead of UF, which wouldn’t be fair either. Ugh, the more I think it out, maybe I’m not ok at 8 teams. Hopefully it stays at 4 for longer than we think.