Ok, to start out, maybe ruin is too strong of a word, but college football would not be the same if we had playoffs. I know most of you will probably disagree with me, and that’s fine.
I’ll skip the obvious arguments that have been rehashed over and over (the regular season is a de facto playoff, the money from bowls, etc.) The real reason I don’t want to see a playoff is that it would take away what makes college football unique: chaos, controversy, endless debate.
Let me say that college football is, by far, my favorite sport. Especially Michigan football. Nothing else comes close. NFL? I don’t care. Outside the Super Bowl (is the NFL going to sue me for using its proper name?), there are no “must see” games, especially in the regular season. Pats-Colts? (of recent years, not necessarily this year) They’ll meet again in the playoffs, so I can miss the game. Basketball? Never been a huge fan. When Michigan was good, I watched, but never had the passion for it that I had for football. Hockey? Getting close, wish more Michigan hockey games were televised. NHL doesn’t matter at all until the playoffs, then it’s a crap shoot of whoever is hot.
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in believing that college football has the most passionate fans of any sport. And that’s why we shouldn’t have playoffs. Sure, the BCS causes controversy, but it’s that controversy that fans the flames of fans passion:
It’s the endless debate of which team deserves it more.
It’s that the stakes are so high, and the system is so subjective.
It’s that everything matters: It’s not just your record; it’s who you lost to and when you lost.
It’s that upsets matter. USC losing to Oregon State wouldn’t have mattered if there were a playoff, USC would have still made the playoff. But they lost, so it changes everything.
It’s the insanity of last year when top ranked team after top ranked team lost.
It’s the debate between co-champions. Michigan-Nebraska in 97-98? Yeah, it would have been great for them to play each other and decide it all, but if they did, we wouldn’t still be talking about and passionate about it now. Auburn in 04-05? They can still complain about being screwed. If there was a playoff, who would still be talking about that year?
It’s that columnists would be out of jobs (not that that would necessarily be a bad thing). If there was a playoff, what would they write about? What do they write about now? When in doubt, write about how the BCS sucks.
Yeah, even with a playoff there would still be some controversy about teams that missed the playoffs, but there’s much less passion when arguing about who’s #8 (or 4 or 16 or whatever depending on the playoff format).
It’s the analysis to the nth degree. Strength of schedule, style points, who’s playing the hottest right now, and on and on.
It’s the “what ifs?” What if Michigan had played Nebraska in 97-98? What if it had been Auburn-USC in 04-05? What if it had been Auburn-Oklahoma in 04-05? What if Texas had been in the Big 12 championship game this year?
Controversy, debates, arguments, unanswered (and un-answerable) questions, upsets that truly affect the big picture. These are the things that make college football the greatest sport out there. All that goes away (or is seriously diminished) with playoffs. All the mystique, all the debate – gone. There would be no questions left. There would be no debating events from 3, 5, even 10 years ago. Everybody wants a playoff so that everything ends up settled, nice and neat. And a good playoff system would do just that. But then college football is just NFL jr.
Let’s not fix the “flaw” that sets college football apart. Otherwise it’ll just blend in to the sports background.