When I say that an extended playoff has the consequence of watering down having a meaningful regular season, this is what I’m talking about.
Once again, the college basketball regular season has been rendered meaningless by the much-coveted “upsets” and “bracket busters.” Those things are great for TV and for your office gambling pool, but they don’t make for much quality basketball in weeks 2 and 3 of the NCAA tournament.
Teams that were dominant over a four-month stretch — Virginia, Arizona, Michigan State, Xavier … poof, gone. Defending national champion North Carolina, out in the second round and finishing in 32nd place.
Left in their place are upstarts like Loyola-Chicago, Nevada, Florida State and Clemson (yeah, Loyola won a national championship that one time … during the Kennedy administration). Do you really want to see a college basketball Final Four of Nevada, Florida State, West Virginia and Clemson? (That’s one possibility).
The equivalent in college football would be Boise State, N.C. State, Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech. Would that get you fired up for the CFP semifinals?
Single-elimination tournaments are a monumentally stupid way of determining a national champion. And, no, that’s not close to what we have now in college football.
Yes, it’s possible for the best team in college football to lose before the national championship game. That was probably the case with Alabama in 2014, and might have been the case with Clemson this past year.
But at least in those instances, you knew those teams lost to a quality opponent … not somebody who managed to string together 40 decent minutes and hit a shot that bounced off the rim, off the glass and went in. (Sorry, Tennessee fans).
But stretch the college football playoffs to eight, twelve or whatever and you’ll be there soon enough. With the exception of the NFL, the pros don’t make that mistake with single-elimination games, but then, they have a lot more time to fool with extended playoff series than college basketball and football do.
Generally speaking, a postseason exists not because it’s the ideal way to crown the best team, but because it makes money. I get that, and there’s no question that March Madness is wildly successful, commercially speaking. But it sure sucks to watch a team excel for more than thirty games against a tough regular season schedule only to see that turn to ashes because it suffered through an off-night against a hot mediocrity… er, Cinderella.
I know many of you think the more playoff, the merrier. So be it. I just see expansion being another wrong turn made by people who seem bound and determined to abandon every aspect of college football that’s made it uniquely attractive to so many of us.