Charles Baus/Icon SMI
I had finally come around, or so I thought. After years of banging my head against a door that would never open, I finally listened to many of my far wiser colleagues and bought into this notion that college football didn't need a playoff. That the season was the playoff. That a playoff would diminish the importance of games in September that are currently just as important as games in December. That if a team did what it was supposed to do and won all of its games that it would get what it deserved.
I was wrong.
Now, I'm not going to suggest my version of a 4-, 8- or 16-team playoff. You'll get plenty of others throwing out their suggested formats in the coming weeks. I'm sure SI will even roll out an imaginary playoff where we'll crown an imaginary champion at some point.
The fact is I feel like Howard Beale during his famous, "I'm as mad as hell" speech in Network at this point every year.
It's absolutely ridiculous that in 2008 we still have people thinking it's fine that college football ends its season abruptly after the last regular season game without staging a tournament to crown a champion, like they do in every other sport. The NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) college football is the only NCAA-sponsored sport without an organized tournament to determine its champion. They instead choose to let bowl committees decide where and when their teams will play their last games, while fans are left to argue and debate what would have happened if there was a tournament.
It's as frustrating as watching the final episode of The Sopranos. Sure, its fun to debate and argue what happened when the screen goes black for a while, but at the end of the day you want an answer.
That's the beautiful thing about sports. It's the one place where debates are decided on scoreboards instead of computers, judges and critics. Well, except for college football, where they think that's the best way to decide a champion after a grueling 12-game regular season.
Can you imagine if the NFL ran their post-season like college football? The No. 1 Patriots would have probably finished last season with a perfect 17-0 record after defeating the No. 2 Cowboys in the Super Bowl while the No. 12 Giants would have finished off their decent season with a win over the No. 10 Jaguars in the Outback Bowl or something. Yeah, that would have been way more exciting than what actually happened.
The worst part about not having a playoff is the ridiculous debate that stem from fans and reporters alike trying to argue why Team A should be in over Team B. The most popular and maddening topic each year is comparing the conferences they are in. It's really an unfair argument considering a team in a bad conference, like USC in the Pac-10 this year, can't control what other conference teams do and is forced to play the other nine teams regardless of how bad they are. All they can do is schedule their non-conference opponents, and this year USC scheduled a road game against Virginia and home games with Ohio State and Notre Dame. Not bad. Then again that shouldn't come as a surprise; USC has never scheduled a non-FBS school for a non-conference game.
Since 2002, the Trojans are 28-2 against ranked opponents, 25-1 against non-conference opponents and 5-1 in BCS Bowl games with that lone blemish coming against Texas in the 2006 Rose Bowl. They were the No. 1 team in the country this season before playing one bad half of football in a six-point loss at Oregon State. Since then, USC's defense has not only been the best in the country, it's one pace to be one of the best in college football history. Then again, that doesn't matter in college football. Their season basically ended on September 25 after their only loss of the season, and that's what proponents of the current college bowl system love: A team that just might be the best in college football was knocked out of national championship contention for playing a bad first half in their third game of the season.
Call me crazy but that's the dumbest thing I have ever heard. I'd much rather see how good teams are when they finish the season, not how good they are in September. Then again, what do I know? Just because it works for every other college and professional sport that doesn't mean it has to work in college football.