You guys know I’m not a fan of Cinderella when it comes to the college football postseason, but despite the subject of this piece, I’ve got to admit this is one helluva lede:
In roughly two weeks, the oligarchy that controls college football will begin its latest attempt to quantify that which defies quantification: On November 3, the College Football Playoff committee will issue the first of its weekly rankings, and given the joyous and unpredictable clusterfuck that this season has become, it will no doubt engender tremendous gales of message-board fury.
So much nailed there in one short paragraph.
If you don’t read anything else today, read Charlie Pierce’s take on Baylor. It’s a tour de force from start to finish.
The University of Texas, you may have heard, has decided to allow the sale of beer and wine at football games.
The response of Texas A&M’s chancellor to the news is three shades of awesome.
Too bad Steve Patterson’s preoccupied with brand building in Mexico. With world class sarcasm like that, if there’s ever a deceased rivalry game that should be brought back from the dead, it’s Texas-TAMU.
Historically speaking, a Mandel Mailbag is typically fertile grounds for snarky responses, but not today, as he does a fine job of skewering the tortured efforts of the conferences as they struggle with the consequences of realignment in the current CFP environment:
I have to say, I find it equal parts amusing and annoying watching conferences wrestle with “issues” entirely of their own creation. Hold a championship game or don’t. Employ divisions or don’t. Many, many smart people are going to spend countless hours in meeting rooms this spring and in the near future wrestling with such mind-bending conundrums, and I just want to say: You know, nobody forced you guys to realign a few years ago. While certain schools (TCU, Texas A&M) have certainly benefited immensely from joining new conferences, you’ll have a hard time convincing me college football in general has benefited in any way from “bigger is better.”
Amen to that.
Jon Stewart, on the Indiana religious freedom law, for the win:
Stewart pointed to the NCAA’s opposition to the bill as a turning point in the state.
“When you’re being criticized by a company whose entire business model is based on exploitation…” he said. “‘You can’t discriminate against gays. You can profit on their likeness without compensation. Here’s how you can get away with it: Just call them student-gays.'”
When you make Mark Emmert look broadminded, you’ve lost. Sorry, Hoosiers.
What Charlie Pierce lacks in predictive ability, he more than makes up in stylish fury:
I mention all of this because, in the opening round of the inaugural Cash Drop in college football this year, Mariota will go up against last year’s winner, the curiously unindicted Jameis Winston, who (I suspect) will lead the Tallahassee Conspiracy To Obstruct Justice to a whopping win that will make the Heisman voting this year look even worse.
“Curiously unindicted” is a mere drop in the bucket. Do read it.
UPDATE: If you liked that, don’t miss Pierce’s Sugar Bowl piece. Especially the opener.
We should pause now, before the trumpets really start to sound, and the luxury suites begin to ring with barely disguised corporate corruption and plutocratic deceit, and before the entire shiny new circus of the College Football Playoff (presented by Gigantocorp, a Monstro company) descends on Jerry Jones’s monument to Freudian overcompensation in the vast real estate desert outside of Dallas.
Leave it to Charlie Pierce to sum up everything that offends me about college football’s latest postseason structure, not to mention what’s coming down the turnpike sooner than I’d like:
First of all, absent a tectonic shift in the way college sports do their business — which would include a fathomless fault into which the NCAA would have to fall, never to rise again — any playoff system is just another gimmick by which the wrong people make the most money. … I do not believe that what the country really needed was one more gargantuan television event that makes the parasitical power structure of college sports even richer, that provides yet another boon to the national gaming-industrial complex, and that allows people who wouldn’t know Wallace Wade from Wally Cleaver to pretend that they care about college football.
Already, the new system has been embraced so enthusiastically by all the institutions of the tottering plutocracy of college sports that it has deformed the regular season. There is no way for the new system to make sense of the SEC West, for example, which is so fat with talent that it virtually has blotted out the rest of the country — so much so that it is entirely possible that a backlash elsewhere may force a lesser team into the field just so people won’t think the whole system is in the tank for a league that does, after all, have its own television network, with CBS Sports (virtually) serving as another one. It will not be long before we hear calls for an expanded playoff system because the current one is unfair to “the kids” who play in leagues less beloved by television executives. And it will become a genuine tournament, which means it will get bigger, louder, and all of its faults will become worse.
All that’s missing there is a reference to brackets. Maybe that will come one day when he writes something about the new 16-team playoffs.