You can’t stop Mickey. You can’t even hope to contain him.

A couple of golden not-so-oldies for your consideration…

Once upon a time,

Six years into the current College Football Playoff system a four-team selection criteria has proven vague and inconsistent, leaving questions and controversy brewing. Concerns are pointed at a 13-member panel that includes sitting athletic directors and a cloaked voting process. 

Indeed, former SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer said there’s a reason he believed cold, hard numbers should be more heavily relied upon than human opinions in determining national championship playoff qualifiers.

It’s why he designed the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) the way he did leading into its application prior to the 1998 season.

“We were concerned with regionalism and the emotion,” Kramer said, explaining why the BCS relied on a pre-determined formula of computer rankings and polls rather than the veiled committee approach used by the current College Football Playoff.

“It’s very difficult to totally separate yourself.”

But not now.

The sport’s most important media outlet is ESPN, whose dominance in the TV, talking head, and online journalism realms has expanded as local papers have withered and died. The network has mostly unchecked power to set college football’s narratives via its studio shows and in-house opinionists. What ESPN naturally considers the defining achievement of a season, now, is earning one of the four spots in the ESPN-broadcasted playoff. One of the top stories on ESPN’s college football page when I was writing this story was about how Georgia and Oregon’s big weekend wins raised the possibility of getting “a second chance” at a “first playoff impression.” ESPN, more than anyone or anything else, is the entity creating those impressions, as major sports media becomes increasingly dominated by takes—provocative, declarative statements of opinion whose effectiveness and virality derive from their capacity to enrage.

And that’s only going to get worse with a 12-team playoff field.  As I wrote then,

The CFP, by broadening the field, has morphed the discussion into a more general debate on several fronts — best versus more deserving, relative conference strengths, the value of conference championships, etc. And, as noted, it’s had the inevitable effect of diminishing the role of the regular season — if you doubt that, maybe you can explain to me why the Big 12 took it upon itself to tack on a conference championship game for a league that has its members play a round robin regular season schedule.

All that, plus the outsized role it’s given ESPN in shaping public perception of the sport.

The damage is done; the horse is out of the barn. I can’t even say I’m angry about it. Looking back now, given the money driving college athletics, honestly, I’m a little surprised they held off as long as they did with the CFP. But they’ve gone down the rabbit hole now and there’s no turning back. I’m sure that pleases many of you, but I’ll bet in a few years even those of you enthusiastic about postseason expansion will concede that it’s a shame college football lost a little of what made it unique.

All of you who insisted eight was the magic number, the obvious stopping point, the logical culmination… whatever, now should realize the only logic that matters is how much product ESPN needs and what it’s willing to pay for it.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, ESPN Is The Devil

19 responses to “You can’t stop Mickey. You can’t even hope to contain him.

  1. And anyone who thinks it will stop at 12 is equally misinformed.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Down Island Way

      12 what…12 hundred gazillion don’t scare Mickey…narrative will be the same B.S., just expanded 12 fold…”uh huh, this town is full of money grabbers, Go ahead, bite the big apple, don’t mind the maggots”…


  2. 81Dog

    The people running this discussion can tug heartstrings and play fans and alums for suckers all the way to the bank. Games are just a bridge for ads to the suits in Bristol or at Disney. More games, more ad money. Also more money for rights fees, more content for reporters (a bridge for print, broadcast, online ads).

    Just leave it alone. But, of course, they won’t. Keep turning it up, until it’s over saturated. Then, demand more games. Diminishing returns to scale is a real thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. SCDawg

    There’s a way to get rid of that pesky subjective factor. That’s conference realignment! Will Georgia be in the NFC south or the AFC South?


    • 81Dog

      This seems to be the goal. Turning the CFP into NFL lite may sound good from a money standpoint. It may well deliver on the money promises. But it will change the college game in ways we don’t like. One of the things many is us like is it isn’t the NFL.

      Liked by 5 people

  4. If we win a national championship under this format as a wild card, I’ll be happy because I’m a Georgia fan. It won’t take away the nagging thought that the regular season didn’t matter other than to determine playoff seeding and that we weren’t even the best team in the SEC during the grind.

    As 81 put it so week, one of the things I like about college football is that it’s not the NFL. It’s headed down a path like every other team sport.

    Senator, it’s Monday … I didn’t need something to put me in a grumpy mood.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ozam

    If you want to know the future of college football just look at the history of college basketball. As someone who attended four final fours growing up and went to see the Dawgs in Albuquerque, I rarely turn on a game now. Sad. 😞

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Ran A

    This covers it… It will grow and grow some more and basically take any importance away from the regular season. And then with a straight face, ESPN will want to cut the $ to conferences because regular season ratings are down.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. ApalachDawg aux Bruxelles

    ESPN is the devil

    Liked by 3 people

  8. fisheriesdawg

    Like a slow-motion train wreck.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Faltering Memory

    Like martinis-one is not enough, two is too many, three is not enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. mdcgtp

    I know it fosters discussion, but there isn’t a perfect solution. The only way to get more at large bids was to satisfy the P5 commissioners automatic bids and throw a bone to G5. In exchange for that, we got rid of the SEC CG as an unneeded elimination game while gaining a bit more margin for error along the way.

    Suggesting that ESPN is the only voice is perhaps an overly simplistic take. The ADs and commissioners had a say. As a UGA fan, my goal is that the program win titles, and it seems like we have more of a chance to do that if we aren’t eliminated. I am confident that Sankey and Kirby agree with me and would disagree with your take that the ESPN is the driving force. Funny how our schedule of home and homes with power teams begins in 2023.

    The obvious trade-off for greater margin for error is greater risk of upset in the playoff. If we are consistently in the top 4, we add another round against a top 8 opponent, where a bad day can eliminate us. I will gladly take that risk for the opportunity to have “gotten hot” in the 2018-2020 post seasons and distinguished ourselves as superior to Ohio State by winning our way to the final four.

    The reality they will face is that the SEC will probably end up of 4 of the final 8 and 2-3 of the final four, and that is going to make Herbie’s head explode.

    what is not to love about that?


    • The whole expansion argument comes down to what you have written about 4 SEC teams in final 8, what has the #4 team in the SEC done during the regular season to deserve the title national champion?

      I would suggest looking at it not as at-large bids but as wild cards – teams that didn’t win their league or maybe even their division. Every wild card cheapens the value of the regular season exponentially. You want to know why the regular season basketball has been rendered meaningless … there are 36 wild cards offered.


  11. 69Dawg

    I just hope the kids are getting some money from this obvious money grab. Those $300.00 gift bags that I’m sure will come from the playin bowls aren’t going to pay for the kids knees when he’s 50.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. TN Dawg

    The regular season has had diminished importance for a while now anyway.

    Auburn beat Alabama and Georgia in the regular season. Both teams they beat went to the playoffs while Auburn played UCF.

    The reason basketball regular season games are meaningless at UGA is that the team sucks. If the basketball team was vying for an SEC title and a serious run in the tourney, Stegeman would be rocking.

    Head on up to Rupp and see how meaningless they are to UK fans. Brother-in-law took me to watch UT vs UK in Knoxville a few years back and the place was packed.


  13. bigjohnson1992

    All I know is that I’m sick of seeing the dawgs playoff ranked 5-9 and left out when it matters. Especially since I know, on the regular, we could beat half or more of the 4 teams that got in. I could care less about anything else now, screw Mickey and all the other conferences, knowing the dawgs will have a shot each and every year.


  14. ericstrattonrushchairmandamngladtomeetyou

    Next they’ll skip 16 and go straight to 32.