Leave it to Charlie Pierce to sum up everything that offends me about college football’s latest postseason structure, not to mention what’s coming down the turnpike sooner than I’d like:
First of all, absent a tectonic shift in the way college sports do their business — which would include a fathomless fault into which the NCAA would have to fall, never to rise again — any playoff system is just another gimmick by which the wrong people make the most money.2 … I do not believe that what the country really needed was one more gargantuan television event that makes the parasitical power structure of college sports even richer, that provides yet another boon to the national gaming-industrial complex, and that allows people who wouldn’t know Wallace Wade from Wally Cleaver to pretend that they care about college football.
Already, the new system has been embraced so enthusiastically by all the institutions of the tottering plutocracy of college sports that it has deformed the regular season. There is no way for the new system to make sense of the SEC West, for example, which is so fat with talent that it virtually has blotted out the rest of the country — so much so that it is entirely possible that a backlash elsewhere may force a lesser team into the field just so people won’t think the whole system is in the tank for a league that does, after all, have its own television network, with CBS Sports (virtually) serving as another one. It will not be long before we hear calls for an expanded playoff system because the current one is unfair to “the kids” who play in leagues less beloved by television executives. And it will become a genuine tournament, which means it will get bigger, louder, and all of its faults will become worse.
All that’s missing there is a reference to brackets. Maybe that will come one day when he writes something about the new 16-team playoffs.