Monday, December 05, 2011

Yet Another Playoff/BCS Post

One of b-dowd's comments in his excellent earlier post about the bowl situation struck me and I wanted to comment on it. He said that this is one of the least-anticipated bowl seasons he can remember, and then he speculated on whether or not that was just something he was feeling. And I think the answer is that it's not and that is what makes this as good of a year as ever for a playoff.

In some years, there are three teams with a legit claim to the national title game (think the 13-0 2004 Auburn team that got shut out). In those years, a "plus 1" feels like a great solution. Let the best sort it out at the top, and let all the mediocre teams have their little, meaningless bowls. But then there are years like this one, when there's an argument among flawed teams for even the number 2 slot in the country.

One of my dingbat SEC friends said, matter-of-factly, that "LSU and Alabama are the two best teams in the country." Of course, we also hear all the time about how the reason college football doesn't need a playoff is because "the whole season is a playoff" and blah blah blah. I guess that only applies for everybody outside of the SEC. What a complete sham. Alabama had their chance, just like Houston "had their chance" and Boise "had their chance." They've all lost once. Oh, but since Alabama lost to LSU, they.....get another chance? Gee, I wonder if Boise would love another shot at TCU, who they lost two by one point, or if Houston would love another crack at Southern Miss. But I digress.

In college basketball, some years there are a handful of absolutely dominant teams and then the "rest," right? In those years, you wind up seeing everyone pick the same Final Four, or something very close. Lots of 1 and 2 seeds making it. But then there are those years -- like 2011 -- when there is maybe one or two dominant teams (or no dominant teams) and nobody has any idea who will win the championship. And aren't those the most exciting tournaments to watch? This year could be that in college football.

Sure, we know that LSU is #1 and they absolutely deserve it. For all the bashing we do on the SEC mouth-breathers, let's make no mistake here: LSU has earned every bit of the respect they have. But after that? There can definitely be arguments made, as I quickly did above, that a number of teams should get a look. There is no 100%, clear cut, #2 or #3 team. Everybody could make a claim and so just imagine an 8-team playoff or even a 16-team playoff. Here's what the top 8 in the BCS would include:

LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon, Arkansas, Boise State, Kansas State.

And if we added the next 8, too?

South Carolina, Wisconsin, Va Tech, Baylor, Michigan, Oklahoma, Clemson, Georgia.

Look at that mix. You've got teams that get a "shot" that didn't have a chance previously. You've got the chance to see what Boise State could do against these big shots (if their previous BCS appearances haven't been enough). You've got teams in (like Michigan) who are hitting their stride and have been better and better as the season has worn on. And you've got the requisite number of SEC teams in there, with their chance to prove how dominant they all are, ya'll.

I'm not going to go into all the reasons (money) and points (money) about why the bowl system (money) still exists, but it's got a lot to do with money. And only for the bowl operators themselves. Even Oregon and Auburn lost money (well into the six figures) in the national title game last year. How ridiculous is that?

My point here is that this bowl season is completely boring, and that's because there aren't engaging storylines. We aren't even getting to see a great national title matchup -- we're seeing a rematch of a game that anyone with two eyes and a rudimentary knowledge of football knows sucked. And then we have the rest, none of which matters at all.

Whee! Exciting!


zlionsfan said...

To me, what's ironic is that what we're seeing is exactly what BCS supports warn would happen if there were playoffs: "the regular season wouldn't be meaningful." (These people, I assume, have never seen a rivalry game. The Bucket would be no less meaningful if there were a I-A playoff, and not just because in most seasons, neither IU nor Purdue would make the cut, even for a 24-team field.)

What's meaningful about the Meineke Different City Every Year Bowl, or 12 bowl games in January, or 14 teams with 6 wins in bowl games? (And no, those aren't coming from the Sun Belt or the MAC. Only 1 of the 6-6 and 6-7 teams is from a non-AQ conference: Marshall.)

The BCS people don't want to share their loot with others. They fear, quite rightly, that an NCAA tournament would dwarf the "excitement" they carefully orchestrate for us.

So what do we get in return? The NIT.

BoilerRick said...

What Sports Illustrated said about our bowl- too funny

30. Little Caesars (Dec. 26): Western Michigan (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6). The Broncos boast the prolific passing tandem of Alex Carder to Jordan White. The Boilers boast a quarterback who made it through the season with both legs.

Read more:

Aaron said...

What is ironic is that EsPN can talk about how a playoff would make the football season meaningless but talk about how awesome the basketball tournament is. Or that expanding the field from 65 to 96 would make the tournament meaningless but 68 teams in bowls is awesome. Seriously 55+% get in?! I wonder what would happen if only 67 had 6-6 and better records. Would the best 5-7 go?

Usually the football season has 2 to 4 really good teams, but two are on opposite sides of the SEC. Then some years we have 6 or 7 legitimate one-loss teams. Really they could do what they do for basketball. Let the 5 automatic qualifying conferences plus 3 more in. Maybe the 1 and 2 get a bye round. Have the current BCS bowls be the first round and drag in the wanna-be BCS bowls. It might cause the wanna-be wanna-be bowls to go under but for the most part the remaining 9843 bowls would be retained. Do people really want LESS football? I understand 24 would be too unwieldy, but 8 or 10 makes it seem "exclusive."

We talk about the regular season because there is nothing else to talk about. The BCS causes controversy so we talk about it. Without the BCS we would find something else to talk about, and generally we do. I think we could keep the hype going. Football is 12 games, not 32. I would rather have no controversy than fake, media-driven controversy.

MDSuperDupe said...

Hey boys, I've got a solution that satisfies the BCS, the sponsors, and the playoff proponents!