“Wild cards are simply parachutes for coming in second.”

I picked the wrong week to quit worrying about college football, it seems.  Richard Johnson sees a crisis.

College football needs an egalitarian championship system if it wants to try and claw back some of its manifest destiny as a nationwide sport. U.S. sports fans demand the finality of one champion, so the sport should use the examples we have to play our way there.

His example isn’t the NFL.  It’s European soccer.  His salve for college football’s wound — manifest destiny, really? — is to expand the playoffs, but require the qualifiers to win their respective conferences first.  I mean, nothing says the finality of one champion like putting the champion of the SEC and the champion of the Sun Belt on equal footing.

He admits Notre Dame poses a big snag.  Well, duh.  What he doesn’t mention is how a 16-team SEC is going to have a huge problem with this format.  Right now, the CFP format involves four wild cards.  There’s no way the SEC is going to sign off on an expanded CFP that reduces the number of wild cards.  And we know this because Sankey has already signaled his opposition to an eight-team arrangement where the P5 champs are awarded automatic berths in the playoffs.

It’s weird, really.  College football is an immensely popular sport that also has a ton of folks, both from the inside and the outside, who are dissatisfied with how it’s structured and are convinced it needs serious tweaking.  So much for the whole “if it ain’t broke” school of thought…


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

25 responses to ““Wild cards are simply parachutes for coming in second.”

  1. Ran A

    You’ve said it all along Bluto. Mickey’s going to ‘F’ this up for all of us. Sad really…

    Liked by 3 people

  2. The only way a champions only format would work would be to realign college football in a way that would make it truly unrecognizable. Even then, you could only do it with 80 teams in 8 10-team conferences.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jcdawg83

    Since when has college football been a “nationwide sport”? College football has always been a regional sport. ESPN is desperate to make college football a nationwide sport and the whores who run college football will go along with anything ESPN says as long as the checks keep rolling in.

    Liked by 13 people

  4. sundiatagaines

    He conveniently left out that each country’s domestic league gets a different amount of spots in the Champions League. And the number of spots is based on performance in the past. So in his analogy, yes the Sun Belt champ would get in but so would like the top 4 SEC teams.

    Liked by 5 people

    • unionjackgin

      +1 Bingo.


    • Ozam

      And the Champions League runs from August to May simultaneously with the domestic leagues. Just a terrible analogy.

      College football is however similar to European soccer in that there are the haves and have nots. The same 10ish teams dominate every year.

      The Pac-10 was the closest match to European soccer. Everybody played everybody else and the team with the most wins was the champion. No playoffs necessary.

      ESPN is going to ruin college football as we know it. Bet on it.


      • 79dawg

        And for what it is worth (I almost mentioned this in one of the threads last week), there was a long article on ESPN’s soccer site last week about how European soccer – in particular, the Bundesliga, which has been dominated by Bayern Munich and which (coincidentally) ESPN has the rights to – “needed” playoffs!


    • miltondawg

      That was my immediate thought as well. Champions League participants are based on two factors How the particular teams did in the previous season in their respective national federations (Premier, La Liga, etc.) AND how their federation stacks up against all the other federations. Frankly, Sankey would probably love such a system.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Tony BarnFart

      Yes, Spain, England, Italy and Germany each had 4 teams in the continent wide competition. (Spain even got a 5th via another route). I’m not even sure the PAC-12 deserves 2 like the French.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. godawgs1701

    I’m fine with teams being required to win their conference in order to win the national championship. Obviously, that would have eliminated Georgia in 2021, but it also would have eliminated Alabama in 2017 and we would have won the national championship that year. But the fact is, things are just fine in college football. The ratings issue isn’t about who is in the playoff, this year we had Michigan in as a first time qualifier and also the first time G5 qualifier as a Cinderella darling. No, the ratings issue is that these morons can’t figure out when to put their games on TV. The format definitely isn’t what is keeping Southern Cal out of the playoff, it’s Southern Cal doing that to itself. Leave football alone, it’s fine.

    At least he didn’t make the asinine promotion/relegation argument.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. whb209

    Sounds like car racing. Regional and TV said, “let us go national,” And they went gone and forgotten.
    Also let’s stop worrying about ND. Tell them their time has passed. either get in a league or go home. We don’t need you.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Also let’s stop worrying about ND. Tell them their time has passed. either get in a league or go home. We don’t need you.

      LOL. Who’s this “we” you’re referring to? Certainly not the networks still shelling out huge bucks for TV. It’s one of the few schools out there that truly does have a national fan base.


  7. RangerRuss

    I’m trying to look at this objectively and finding that difficult as I like the present system immensely. Hell, I liked it before the Dawgs won the 2021 National Championship. The existing playoffs and the rules for entering have rewarded the best team with the title. Mostly. That Bama privilege is still an outlier and needs to be addressed.
    However, I’m not looking at the playoffs as anything but entertainment and a fair deal for the participants. The “whores who run college football” (h/t JCDawg83) see it as a means of raising insane amounts of revenue with little regard for the effects it has on viewership or tradition. If the whores were astute they could see they’ve hit a sweet spot and look for ways to maintain the successful product. But they’re not businessmen. They’re money junkies and as any addict/zealot they need more and more until they sink the boat that transported them to the promised land.
    They’re fuckn it up for everyone and they still won’t have a nationwide sport. But like MLB, the shadow of the old league will remain, true champions will be rare and the cash will keep rolling in. That’s what it’s all about. Traditionalists can just suck it.
    The Dawgs are fortunate to have a dynamic leader with a business mind in Kirby to lead them through this chickenshit. I trust he’ll stay on the mutha.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I only hear this expanded playoff, SEC fatigue, etc. crap from the most casual of college football fans. The ones who don’t watch games or follow a specific team. They don’t spend much on sports, so why do the pundits and TV execs sooooo crave their opinion and attention? No matter how much they screw this up, they aren’t getting into these folks’ pockets.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. siskey

    I would argue that American sports fans do not like egalitarianism in their sports. Historically ratings and interest are higher in sports when one team is dominant or there are a few top teams competing see the Yankees run from 1996-2003, the Lakers v. Celtics matchups in the 1980s and the NFL for an example.
    College football has never been fair or even across the board. The last 40 years have seen two seasons that I can think of where a historic nobody became a champ and that happened in 1984 and 1990. I don’t include Miami’s championship in 1983 because of what they become later and because at the time there were still a lot of independents which allowed for arguably better schedules to come out of nowhere.
    As the earlier poster said if you allow the Sunbelt and the MAC then you will have to go to 32/64 teams because the Big Ten and SEC would under that scenario deserve to have at least half their teams in the playoffs. I know that expansion is inevitable and I like watching the games but I would be ok with a pre Bowl Coalition where all the games come on New Year’s Day and they vote too.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Unfortunately, ‘if it ain’t broke, keep making changes till it is’ seems to be the prevailing belief in the powers that be. Keep trying to bring in fans that currently don’t care about cfb until the diehard fan base goes away. Seems like a good plan.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. thenewandimprovedtronan

    “College football needs an egalitarian championship system if it wants to try and claw back some of its manifest destiny as a nationwide sport.”

    Liked by 4 people

  12. ben

    This is one of the guys at SZD, right? I don’t know what the general perception of that crew is, but even though I listen to it, I do it because of a need for college football news and talk, but they’ve always struck me as guys who think they’re the smartest ones in the room and their opinions are above and beyond reproach.

    They also can’t hide their disdain for UGA, which, I guess, is because they’re a product of the EDSBS tree?


    • thunderdawg42

      RJ is on SZD, yes. He’s also a Florida grad – he’s not supposed to like Georgia. It doesn’t make his take any more reasonable, but he does know how life works in the SEC.

      As a side note, his cohost Stephen Godfrey went to Ole Miss, so 2/3 of SZD are SEC alums. I listened to ‘em this season too, and while there is an anti-SEC bias, it’s directed towards the money/politics/operations of the conference rather than the perceived strength of the teams (which they readily acknowledge as generally superior to the other conferences)


    • D.N. Nation

      SZD was like a damn wake after the natty, it was great.

      And yeah, they have a real crummy signal-to-noise ratio. Lotta jabbering about, and not nearly as clever as they find themselves to be.


  13. unionjackgin

    I didn’t read the article but based on the comments here the author neglects to leave out that UEFA Champions League is not as egalitarian as he suggests. First the bulk of the Group Stage participants are from the 4 big European Leagues (EPL, Ligue 1, La Liga, Bundesliga).

    The smaller European Leagues are lucky if their qualifier moves directly to the group stage. Many have to play in group stage qualifiers against the 4th & 5th place clubs from the big leagues.

    All of it is based on a coefficient for league strength.

    If they follow the Champions League model for CFP, the playoff expansion will be huge. The SEC & the Big 10 are getting 3-5 teams in the playoff. minimum. ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 are getting 2-3 in the tourney. That is 12- – 19 teams right there. Are we giving non-Power 5 teams another 5 spots?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. uga97

    Ridding divisions in all conferences and move cupcake games to spring, beefing up more neutral site matchups is the 1st best step levelling the playing field.

    Next up, create the qualifying rules before the season starts and dissolve the TV $$ making-manufacturers CFP Committee Inc.


  15. D.N. Nation

    These Cinderella-humpers won’t rest until Boise gets a bye to the title game.