A modest proposal for college football pundits

I’ve re-read that Chris Vannini piece ($$) about how it’s past time for significant playoff expansion at least a couple of times and it pisses me off a little more each time I do.  His premise is that the CFP has proven to be a complete failure, not at producing a worthy national champion, but at keeping him entertained sufficiently.

Over eight years, the CFP has pulled off the remarkable feat of failing to give us good semifinal games while also devaluating the New Year’s Six games outside the CFP rotation. The result is that the sport’s highest-profile games miss the charm and excitement that comes with the regular season, and what should be the climactic moments of the season often feel like duds.

It’s not fair, I tells ‘ya, because we were promised this…

It’s not what anyone envisioned when the format was put into place with a 12-year contract in 2014. It was supposed to give more teams a chance and produce a new class of winners.

… and we got this, instead.

Beyond that, it can make you wonder just how many Alabama-Georgia title bouts we have coming. Georgia Coach Kirby Smart is just getting going at 46; Alabama Coach Nick Saban always looks like he’s just getting going at 70.

How long might the dance persist, the one where the Southeast plays football better than all the other regions, the fans crow about it, the pundits note it, the fans from other regions seethe over it and then the Southeast plays football better than all the other regions?

The problem is structural.  College football isn’t a sport built on parity.  Vannini knows this, so his suggestion is to work an end around — not just playoff expansion, but a newly purposed CFP.

Expanding would also provide everyone in the Football Bowl Subdivision with a tangible goal of reaching the CFP, giving more fans something to celebrate and enjoy before the games. That can be the ultimate goal. Like the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, reaching that is an accomplishment in itself, something every team could realistically point to in preseason camp.

You get a participation trophy!  And you get a participation trophy!  Hell, why even play the games?  Just let every team bask in the satisfaction of making the field.

Okay, okay, I exaggerate.  But not by as much as you might think.

The 12-team model that is most favored by the sport’s power brokers would give us a slate of eight additional games, including a first round of teams 5-12 that assuredly would produce more exciting results than what we get now. By giving byes to the Alabamas of the world, we’ll get teams that are more even in talent on the field for something that matters.

They’ll just get slaughtered by the Alabamas of the world a round later.  Oh, goody.

Anyway, I’ve got a better idea to make the NY6 bowls more meaningful.  Even better, it’ll make all bowl games more meaningful.

Rebrand every bowl game as a playoff game.

No, I don’t mean make all the bowl games part of the CFP.  Just change the name of each and every one of the little darlin’s from “Bowl” to “Playoff”.  The Citrus Playoff.  The Sun Playoff.  The Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Playoff.  One game playoffs for all the marbles for every coach and player.  If being in a playoff game is the secret sauce, make every postseason game a playoff.  Think of the meaninginess!  Think of being able to chastise coaches who change jobs before a playoff game!  Think of chiding players for opting out of a playoff game!

Mock me if you like.  I’ll save my mockery for the prospect of Vannini’s excitement over a four-loss Pac-12 team facing off against the AAC champ for all the marbles to face Alabama.  It’ll make for a compelling participation trophy, for sure.  The post-excellence CFP future is gonna be lit.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

48 responses to “A modest proposal for college football pundits

  1. Russ

    The fact Vannini and others continue to pump expansion because the semifinals sucked, while ignoring the bowl games, is idiotic. Most of the bowls had equitable pairings leading to some interesting games. It they don’t like the playoff games, fix the bowls to their liking. Participation trophies suck.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Down Island Way

      Better yet, if you don’t like to watch the games, go back to the basement at your parents home and watch the weather channel…GO DAWGS! (we luv some cfp games)…

      Liked by 1 person

    • SoCalDawg

      agree, it was a great “bowl season” the games were competitive for the most part and exciting (if you happen to like CFB!).


  2. akascuba

    If you give the top teams a bye to rest up and get ready while less talented teams beat each other up. The CFBC will be even more of a bloodbath. The simple fact is rarely are there four teams worthy of a playoff spot.
    CFB writers are simply self serving when crying for an expanded playoff.
    It’s coming anyway because there’s too much money to be made and if anything CFB is now all about money to those in charge.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. timphd

    I responded to Vaninni’s article with a similar negative response. What friggin sense does it make to open the playoffs to more teams, when it is clear that only two teams this year are in the same stratosphere and everyone else is B league level. We can let them play and qualify to play Georgia or Bama and get the same results we got this time. I suspect that we would have gotten Michigan if they had a 12 team playoff, they were pretty good, but somebody else would have beaten Cincinnati, only to have their clock cleaned by Bama. So what’s the point?

    I also find it disengenuous of ESPN and others to talk about the devaluation of the bowls, with opt outs etc. when they are the ones who created the CFP or bust mentality. Preseason talk is all about who will and won’t make the CFP, the whold charade of CFP rankings weeks in advance, etc. only emphasizes that as the only meaningful goal and there is a clear focus on those three games which comprise the playoff to the exclusion of others. They have themselves to blame.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Bowl games meant something in the BCS and earlier era. It was about conference superiority and a leg up on the following year (a lot of the reason we were preseason #1 in 2008 was due to the Sugar Bowl vs. Hawaii). The only reason we got 4 was the Bama/LSU rematch in 2011. Jim Delany hated that outcome and relented as long as the selection was made by a committee.

      The powers that be are close to killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

      Liked by 2 people


    Some good games yesterday, too bad Vannini missed them.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Senator…for an attorney your business sense is spot on. 😉 College Football has a major branding problem. No consistency in the product, service nor message. Wayyyy to many voices giving national input. The sport is desperately in need of a Commissioner, not the head of the glorified academic leaders fraternity aka NCAA. You can have it all…a mini-playoff for G5 champion, meaningful NY6 (or more) top tier bowls. Terrific exhibition bowls. And of course a National Championship. But not under the current anarchy of conferences and “leaders”. So…we’ll continue to be served a never ending succession of bigger and dumber decisions.

    Liked by 2 people

    • rigger92

      There must be a marketing graduate student out there that has written a dissertation on the fall of Nascar. A deep dive analysis of the fall of that sport would be interesting and ESPN should want to read it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • ESPN was part of the fall of NASCAR. They, Fox and NBC convinced NASCAR that they really could be a national sport. Folks in big cities outside the South who can’t even own a car aren’t going to watch men drive them around a track for 500+ miles.

        It’s the same damn thing with college football. New York, Boston, Chicago (to a degree), Washington, and San Francisco really don’t care about college football. Trying to market college football to them is a fool’s errand.

        Liked by 12 people

  6. ASEF

    Columnist imagines an expanded playoff gives him a broader audience and more clicks, hence more $$$$.

    Maybe he should look at the utter demise of the national basketball commentariat. That postseason has become so bloated that it’s mainly just noise at this point. The only media people monetizing it are the bracketologists. And there are exactly two of them.


    Liked by 2 people

  7. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    This is what is funny to me: back when they started this playoff business I didn’t like it. We could crown a champion based on rankings (and results in bowl games) and then when the AP/Computers did their thing we could argue about it all year. Why this was bad, I don’t know, but in the interest of having a ‘champion’, we sift out all the dreg games and then we complain about that.

    UGA and Alabama are about to play their 15th game in about a 4 month span, and Vanini wants more? Why? Because he’s the most important person in the world? I hope to God Sankey doesn’t cave on this playoff expansion.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. otto1980

    As posted in the past NIL and transfer portal especially together will make the rich richer. The SEC is rich and attracts NIL money. The PAC has been behind and now look to be more so than ever. The SEC is raiding the west coast but not just QBs now, look at Bowers, Kendal Milton.

    USC and Oregon hopefully improve for the health of the sport. New Years Eve illustrated why a blog named itself Team Speed Kills. Michigan isn’t going to improved much with a pro style attack and mid western talent.
    Ohio St recruited Florida well and kept playing dual threat QBs. I don[t keep up enough with them enough to know if that Florida pipeline is drying. Recent changes will keep that talent flowing into the Southeast.

    I don’t see how a playoff creates better games and I don’t see how getting blown out in the playoff helps these programs rebuild. Plenty of teams make March Madness with some frequency to be eliminated early. I don’t see it elevating them to Sweet 16 contenders.

    NIL and the Transfer Portal maybe fair to players but it will create problems for the sport.


    • Not defending Vannini by any stretch, but his perspective is that the 5-12 play-in games (my term) will produce better match-ups in early December. The good early games will make up for the ensuing blowouts is just idiotic “logic.”

      The thing that all of the playoff expansion supporters say is that a larger bracket works in college basketball. Duke is good at basketball because they have a great coach and only need 12 (really only about 8 when you get to the tournament) scholarship players to be successful. Duke will never be a playoff team because they can’t get the depth of talent necessary to run through the regular season and an extended playoff.


  9. One of the best arguments against CFP expansion is the mind-numbing collection of idiotic arguments put forward in support of expansion.

    Liked by 6 people

  10. uga97

    Ill bet the Vaninis of the world are also just fine with Tom Brady & the Pats now Bucs dominating the NFL for over a decade with zero complaints. They can all pound sand.


  11. divingduck7

    It’s asinine. The games he is longing for happened in November and early December. Ohio State v Mich was an early round playoff game. Cinci v Houston and the SEC championship were both playoff games. Adding more games is redundant especially for college students.

    Liked by 7 people

  12. 81Dog

    People like this guy think they’re really smart, but they’re the worst kind of stupid: dopes who not only don’t think they’re dopes, they think themselves the smartest guy in the room

    They only talk about whether they can expand the CFP, because it’s, an article of faith with them that they should. If you ask the wrong questions, you’re going to get the wrong answers. Right now, college football is thriving. It isn’t as popular everywhere as it is in the south and Midwest. So what? The same dopes who de ry the fact that unletteredhicks in the south dominate the CFP are totally ok with the Yankees or Red Sox dominating MLB, or the Pats dominating the NFL, or the Laker dynasty. They whine when the Knicks or the Dodgers or the Cowboys suck, too. How many times have you heard
    “(whatever pro league) IS BETTER WHEN THE KNICKS/METS/GIANTS ARE DOMINANT!” What do they hate most? When 2 “small market” teams play fir a championship. “OMG, NOBODY IN AMERICA CARES, IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD, FIX THIS NOW!” Suddenly, diversity in participants becomes a negative. They like it in the abstract, not when it might cost them money. That’s how suits and insufferable “talent” all get fired.

    FTMF. They want more “product” to sell ads for at ESPN. They don’t care about us. College football is fine. Quit trying to make “equal results” happen. What’s next? A HS draft? Move teams to northeastern or west coast cities? Just leave us alone. If your area isn’t competitive, here’s an idea: work harder. Recruit better. Make it a priority.

    But, no. The woke-istas have no patience for effort and hard work. They want it, right now. Change the rules! Game the system to reach our preferred result! Give us a Cal or a Boston College or maybe the University of Chicago in the CFP, as national champ. FTMF. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Anon

      This isn’t SEC bias from this guy. This is south bias. It’s bias against anyone who thinks differently than this prick. I’m sure his bias goes way beyond SEC football. It goes to politics, vax, guns etc. as I’ve said before the only difference between sports journalist and other journalist is pay. They just all hate us

      Liked by 3 people

  13. Illini84

    The whole “participation trophy” thing bugs me. I ran kids sports programs for years and the practice grew out of the end-of-season get-togethers teams would have. The point of pre-adolescent sports programs should be to teach kids the fundamentals of the sports not worry about final scores. Once they get into middle school it should be more competitive but recognizing little ones for is fine.


  14. 69Dawg

    Well we will get what our ESPN overlords want. Sankey is just playing Bre Rabbit, “please don’t have a 12 team playoff”. He knows, based on the CFP that, the SEC will end up with at least 3 and maybe 4 teams in. Right now he is happy with two but hell lets make more money, more money. Whoever said the part about New York or the whole northeast not caring about college football was exactly right. If the only teams in the the North East are Rutgers Boston College, and Syracuse who the heck cares except the alums. Maybe the gamblers are only interested in the pros or basketball. All I know is money talks and them that’s got the money makes the rules.

    Liked by 1 person

    • originaluglydawg

      Have the final two rounds in Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, New Orleans, Birmingham, etc….cause it’s usually going to be a Southern Thang!!!


  15. Texas Dawg

    The only thing that will come out of an expanded playoff is Mickey will be happy and more baby seal clublings will take place for Mikey’s financial enrichment.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Bulldawg Bill

    As I recall, the CFP was meant to produce “A” champion, not to necessarily produce more entertaining football.
    ‘Rotten garbage deluge in 10, 9, 8, …’

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Morris Day

    heh, the Senator never fails to deliver… new word added to the English language… “meaninginess”. Kudos!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Biggen

    The article reeks of a participation trophy. Especially when Vannini concedes:

    It won’t change the results at the end, but it’ll give us something to enjoy along the way.

    I don’t understand what it is exactly he and the Kanells of the world want when they say they want an expanded playoff. What is it, in their eyes, the playoff is doing wrong as far as getting a national champion? Because as far as I can tell, the playoff is doing a fabulous job of crowning one.

    If they want to argue the playoff isn’t putting in enough teams, well then that isn’t really it’s purpose when it was created. There are never more than 4 – 5 teams (5 is probably an exaggeration) in a year that are legit national champion contenders. So what is the point of putting in 12+ teams? Is it just to keep opt outs from happening? I’ll concede that that may have an effect of doing that.

    But here is the thing, what happens when we go to 12+ teams and the same 4 or so teams end up end the final four every year? What radical move do they come up with then in an attempt to get new blood in the final four?

    They keep screaming we need more parity but an expanded playoff ain’t the answer. The Senator has touched on it before, but adjusting scholarship limits is probably the only real way to attempt it. Reducing limits for teams that are better and/or increasing limits for teams that are worse. I just have a hard time believing Universities are going to be willing to take a decrease their scholarships. These are institutions of higher learning after all. So then you are left with only increasing scholarship limits for other schools but I think the transfer portal begins to really work against you here. After all, you can only play 11 at a time no matter if you have 100+ scholarship athletes on the team.


    • Anon

      You are missing the point. These fuckers like vannini hate you. And your way of living. Grasp that and you won’t need to fret over the details an minutiae


      • Step back from the ledge my friend. He’s a mis guided sports writer, not the ‘they’ behind the current rash of nutter conspiracy theories that are eating away at our society.


    • spur21

      Make it 12 and make the top six play wearing snowshoes.


  19. Perhaps every season should start off as a bracket A and B in each conference. Bracket A teams get a guaranteed 12 game season. Bracket B gets a guaranteed 6. Bracket B teams who fail to go .500 are relegated to a Group of 5 conference. They are replaced by Group of Five Bracket A teams who are undefeated or are one loss after six games. The Group of 5 promoted teams are determined by region and automatically inserted into the relegated Power 5 teams schedule. Should a Group of 5 team manage to win their division then they can be considered for the Conference Championship game.

    The following year, relegated Power 5 teams would have to hope to go undefeated or lose no more than one game during their opening six to be inserted back into their conference. Relegation similarly results in a demotion in conference revenue and promoted teams receive bonus compensation for joining a P5 conference.

    Would this make the regular season more interesting? More meaningful? Reduce parity?


    2021 SEC Bracket A:
    Ole Miss

    Bracket B:
    South Carolina
    Miss St.

    Bracket B at mid season:
    App State?
    Miss St.


    I personally haven’t had any problem with the conference playoffs or bowls, just having certain programs seemingly forever be dead weight in a conference and benefit from the revenues.


    • Anon

      The biggest deadweights on the SEC? Vandy football and UGA basketball. Be careful

      Liked by 1 person

      • Texas Dawg

        We still have a basketball team?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Until we upgrade our facilities and coaching, we will continue that way. Why can’t our basketball team be in the Southern Conference? Hell if Notre Damw can be aligned with a conference for limited sports, why can’t we?


        • I think at this point, it’s pure coaching. Crean couldn’t get us to the tournament for one year with Ant Man and Wheeler, who is now the starting point guard at Kentucky. I’m guessing you want a new arena, but I just don’t see the Magill crowd making the commitments to build those kind of facilities because they don’t care.

          Rinse, lather, repeat. Josh Brooks has a really difficult decision ahead of him.


    • Relegation would never work, and it would require a cooperation among the conferences that would be an immediate antitrust violation.


  20. Illini84

    Hey, there are tons of Dawg shirts showing up for sale with pics and autographs. Anyone know how to find out if the players get some of that action?


  21. jhorne2000

    This might be my favorite post ever. Well done


  22. Vannini is pushing the same arguments that Andy Staples has been pushing on playoff expansion since Sankey and his group announced the format. He and Max Olsen were shilling for it on this morning’s podcast.


  23. stoopnagle

    Pitt at Notre Dame (Cincy)
    Utah at Ohio St. (Georgia)
    Michigan St. at Baylor (Michigan)
    Oklahoma St. at Ole Miss (Alabama)

    I mean I’d watch all of these, but I not a casual.