Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Even a four-team playoff is a dangerous step on a slippery slope

image The Birmingham News’ Kevin Scarbinsky has an interesting column on the danger posed by the college football playoff proposals being batted around the conferences.

Various reports have the conference big wigs putting a specific proposal before the FBS presidents in June. The playoff zealots and BCS anarchists are beside themselves with glee—they’ve already counted all of the chickens.

Assuming that the conference chiefs can agree on a workable and sensible model, and assuming that the presidents endorse and adopt the plan, the danger lies in what becomes of the playoff in the not-so-distant future.

Scarbinsky describes the Football Championship Division’s latest proposal:

It'll include, not four teams, but 24 teams.

It'll extend an automatic bid to every conference that wants one, and the rest of the spots in the field will be at-large bids extended by a selection committee.

The committee will seed the top eight teams, give them first-round byes and award them home games in the second round.

The playoff zealots and BCS anarchists ask: “What’s wrong with this?”

This, as Krazy3 explains, represents a desire for inclusion rather than excellence.

This country was built on the ideal of equal opportunity. Everyone has a chance to succeed and the best of the best are handsomely rewarded. There are nice parting gifts for those who fall a bit shy of the mark. But not everyone can enjoy the fruits of others’ labor. There is no dishonor in losing to a superior opponent and you are not entitled to stand on the same dais with him and bask in his glory.

Some have fewer opportunities and have to work harder to earn their success. Others have better opportunities and have a shorter path to glory. That’s life. It’s not fair, but the only people who still believe life should be fair are kindergartners and leftists.

We ought not be entering the territory where equal rewards are handed out like trophies at kindergarten basketball camps. Feel-good leftists like Buzz Bissinger can’t comprehend why competition should allow the emergence of a single winner. In their narrow little minds, if  sport can’t be for the greater good of all participants, then it should simply be banned.

Krazy points out that the No. 4 team has rarely been worthy of a shot at the national championship, and it hasn’t happened yet in the history of the BCS. The BCS bowls that don’t host the championship game sometimes make boneheaded decisions on who they invite to their games, but the BCS has succeeded in its original goal of putting the two best teams on the same field to play for the national championship.

The BCS doesn’t work perfectly but it does work. No system conceived by the human mind is perfect and the BCS hasn’t been without controversy. Does anyone think that a four team bracket won’t escape controversy? If Jim Delany has his way, will the model be an improvement? “Hell no.”

The BCS has had the incidental effect of placing college football in the forefront of public attention. College football is arguably the nation’s second favorite sport, trailing only the NFL in national following and popularity. But the game of college football is nothing like the game played on Sundays. Accordingly, its post season shouldn’t be patterned after the NFL playoffs. There is no Super Bowl in college football and duplication will lead to destruction.

Mark my words.

It should be noted that I disagree on one point with Krazy. I believe a four team playoff is the right idea because while history hasn’t produced a winner from the No. 4 spot yet, the conference realignments and scheduling schemes being concocted over the next two years may well do so. It’s prudent to plan for a legitimate slate of four contenders and a scenario where all three games are pick’ems.

There will never be a legitimate slate of six contenders. Or eight, or any other number greater than four. Once you step on that slope, you’re on your way down to handing out trophies at the end of the season and simply rewarding people for showing up.

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