The four-team playoff was nice but we learned this week it is probably not going to survive into puberty. It is never going to fulfill its end of a 12-year contract, get its learner’s permit, celebrate bar mitzvah or grow tall enough to ride the roller coaster at Six Flags Over Central Florida.
We learned this week the College Football Playoff is only a warmed-over version of the BCS system that was, for 16 years, treated like leprosy by national media power brokers clamoring for NFL-type playoff order.
Me, I loved the BCS for exactly the reasons others despised it.
The BCS was outrageous, unfair and provoked chaos—everything a crackpot sportswriter is looking for in a bankrupt system. I liked the BCS because it was NOT the NFL and the literary chicanery it provided helped put two of my kids through junior college.
Dan Wetzel, the outstanding columnist at Yahoo!, promised me college football would be better with a playoff and took credit (deservedly so) for helping to dismantle a corrupt cabal that made Venezuela look like Switzerland.
Dan even co-wrote a book, I think it was with Ralph Nader and Michael Moore, called “Death to the BCS” that successfully executed its working title.
Dan and others cheered the new playoff but that was just, as it turned out, attention deficit disorder.
Just like "Tide," the dish-washing detergent, not the team from Tuscaloosa, the new system needs to be improved only four years into its rinse cycle. It looks too much like the old system and is starting to show signs of "ring around the collar."
Close your eyes and this is 2011 all over again. Two schools from the Southeastern Conference are playing for the national title, on Southern ground, against a backdrop of indifference and\or discontent.
Six years ago, it was Alabama vs. LSU in New Orleans. Alabama got into the title game without winning its own division of the SEC West. The Crimson Tide edged out angry Oklahoma State for the final participant spot.
This year Ohio State, champion of the Big Ten, got left out of the mix. Alabama people said Ohio State should not have lost so badly at Iowa. Ohio State people said Alabama should not have played Mercer. And Alabama got to the title game without winning its own division of the SEC West.
In 2011, Alabama people said Oklahoma State should not have lost at Iowa State. And Oklahoma State people said Alabama should not have played Georgia Southern.
You call this progress?
The four-team playoff was also supposed to end “outlier” schools claiming independent championships.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
So, of course, this week, the University of Central Florida crowned itself “national champions” after going 13-0 with a team that was not allowed into the “system.”
Isn’t that great? I say so because it made my heart patter for the old days when this happened all the time.
Remember when undefeated Auburn, in 2004, got shut out of the title game that featured USC clobbering Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl?
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville ordered championship rings for all his Tigers.
Central Florida’s sensational season this year reminds me of Utah in 2008, when the Utes capped a 13-0 season with a win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
This year, UCF defeated Auburn…in the Peach Bowl. It's not exactly the same, but close enough to make a great cobbler.
The bottom line, the experts are now telling me, is that the new playoff must now give way to a newer one.
Next Monday’s title game between Georgia and Alabama, in Atlanta, is too regional and won’t draw much interest outside the Bible Belt.
How is the four-team playoff making things better?
Only three champions of the six best conferences were invited. The Big Ten champion got left out for the second time in four years. UCF, champion of the American Athletic, certainly looked worthy after defeating the team that has wins over Alabama and Georgia.
Don’t worry, though, Dan Wetzel and others can fix it…again. You know, just eliminate the conference title games and go to an eight-team playoff. And then, when that doesn't work, expand to 16, then 32. then 64 then add a couple Tuesday night play-in games in Dayton.
This week, former CBS president Neal Pison told Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports the move to an eight-team playoff could be worth $10 billion.
That kind of money doesn’t just talk…it screams.
Change is coming, folks. You can feel it, and here is how it is going to work. The folks at the College Football Playoff will say they are happy with the current format and have no plans to expand. But then, one day soon, they will. They'll put it off for two years and then claim it was their idea all along.
I am not going to be one of those writers who sucks down free beer and then complains about this year’s all-SEC title game in Atlanta. I am, in fact, headed to Georgia on Friday to enjoy the festivities—all the power and the peachy passion.
See, for me, it’s a nostalgia trip, a trip down BCS memory lane.
I want UCF coach Scott Frost to tour the press box before Monday night’s title game, making a case for why his team deserved a chance to be there.
That’s what Tuberville did, on Auburn’s behalf, before the 2005 Orange Bowl.
That’s not a bad thing—that’s my happy place.[/membership]