Why Does College Football Hate Cinderella?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Posted by The Green Miles

Imagine if the 1987 Washington Redskins had beaten the Chicago Bears in the playoffs ... and that's it. No more games. You won your one post-season game. Sorry. Hope you enjoy watching San Francisco and New Orleans in the Super Bowl!

Those were the two teams with 1987's best regular season records. And if the NFL was like college football, the Redskins would never have gotten to sniff the title game, never mind beat Denver in Super Bowl XXII.

In college football, there's no such thing as Cinderella. Just ask TCU, Boise State and Cincinnati, all of whom finished the regular season undefeated, but had no chance at winning the national title. Sure, their players weren't the best on paper (as Cincinnati proved in getting destroyed by Florida). But neither were Doug Williams & Timmy Smith. What fun are sports without getting a chance to root for the underdog to win it all?

The only reason to keep the current bowl system is that a lot of people are making a lot of money off of it. Just look who the bowl system hired to protect its interests -- loyal Bushie Ari Fleischer.

But don't listen to me. Listen to the arguments in favor of the current bowl system. They're beyond laughable:
  • "Would gut, if not destroy, the traditional bowl system, which allows 56 teams — almost half those in NCAA Division I-A — to stamp their seasons a success by reaching the postseason." You don't think Boise State would trade 10 meaningless bowl games for one shot at a national title?
  • "Could diminish interest in the regular season. College football's is the most meaningful and drama-filled in sports." Right, because Redskins-Cowboys, Red Sox-Yankees and Tar Heels-Blue Devils are such ho-hum walk-throughs.
  • "The college game would become even more commercialized and professionalized." I think the last thing bowl system advocates want is for this to turn into an honest discussion about the dollars involved in college football and how few of them go to the athletes on the field.
  • "A 16-team, four-round playoff would be during many final exams and extend the season into the second semester. Players would be harder-pressed to be students." As recently as the early '90s, national title teams typically played a total of 12 games in seasons that ended New Year's Day. This year's national champion will have played 14 games in a season that ends January 7th. Again, let's not pretend academics are anything but a distant also-ran to money.
Now look at the arguments in favor of a playoff: Every other sport does a playoff; fans want it; it would be more fair; and it would likely make schools more money. Oh, and a playoff would actually figure out who the real champion is. Isn't that a radical idea?