Tom Fornelli has a change of heart about college football’s postseason.
All through the BCS era, I was one of the many loud, obnoxious voices calling for a postseason playoff. I yelled about how little sense it made that a sport with over 100 teams competing just picked two at the end of the season and had them play for a national title, leaving so many others in the cold with no hope. While there will never be a perfect way to settle college football’s national title, a playoff seemed like a logical idea that would move us closer to perfect.
But it hasn’t. The College Football Playoff has made the sport worse in a lot of ways. At least with the BCS, there was a cut-and-dry approach to how the two teams that would play were to be determined. It was a combination of computer polls and the Coaches Poll. Put all the numbers in a formula, and that formula would spit out the rankings, and we were done. Every week we’d get an update on them following the games, and we’d get on with our lives.
Now, all we do is debate which team should be No. 4 and whether it’s fair that teams from Group of Five conferences have no chance. Instead of a set of rankings, we have a group of rotating characters with personal biases of their own gathering in a room (or on Zoom) and ranking teams based on whatever criteria fits at the time.
I hear where he’s coming from, although I think he’s romanticizing the BCS more than it deserves to be. Yes, the CFP selection committee blows, but let’s not forget that a major part of the BCS formula was a Coaches Poll that was prone to bias/conflicts of interest (not to mention coaches who didn’t give a shit about voting in the first place).
The other problem with the BCS?
Now, Jerry’s an Auburn fan, so 2004 is always gonna resonate for him, but it’s still a fair point he raises. There are enough seasons when three teams are legitimate contenders for a national title to prefer a system that accommodates that scenario. College football’s postseason problem is that there are almost no years when it goes into a postseason with more than four legit contenders. (Another problem is that playoff expansion is going to wreck the bowls for good, for what that’s worth.)
I admit this conversation is largely hypothetical, since playoff expansion (and the money that brings) is an inevitability. We all know that the dollar signs matter more than tradition or the unique aspects of college football that make it the best sport to follow. But I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a middle ground that lets the suits make bank while preserving the goal of having the season’s best teams face off for all the marbles. Let the computers call all the shots? Play the bowl games first and then pick the top two teams afterwards?
Frankly, as the years pass, I find myself more enamored of a plan a drunk LSU fan posted that I mentioned at the blog a long time ago: make the postseason field match the results of the regular season. If it’s a year when there are two clear cut contenders, make it a one-game playoff. 2019? Okay, four-team field. And when you get that 2007, once in a blue moon, crazy ending, go crazy with an eight-team playoff. I used to think TV wouldn’t like that, but when Mickey controls the entire postseason, my bet is this would be something it could work with.
Is it a waste of time to speculate? Maybe. (Okay, probably.) You got any better ideas? Let’s hear ’em.