Standing Athwart History

It has been said that Conservatism fundamentally comes down to standing athwart history yelling stop. Facing off against the forces of Progressives intent on “improving” or “fixing” a status quo that flies in the face of modern, enlightened values. Desperately battling to preserve our nation’s culture and values.

Conservatives like me have been forced to watch, horrified, as two of the very foundations driving the US economy – energy consumption and health care – are being seized by Washington because there was a wave of Democrats washed in by voters who wanted innocuous sounding things like Hope, Change, and Reform. There’s the rub. Hell, I’m full of hope. Washington does need to be changed. Health care does need to be reformed. Mephistopheles is in the details.

Which is why talk of a college football playoff needs to be nipped in the bud, burned, salted, buried in a shallow grave, dug up, double killed, paraded about on a pike, tied to an engine block, and unceremoniously dumped 100 miles southeast of Galveston.

We’re at a juncture where meaningful bowl games and the NFL playoffs briefly overlap. This juncture took place earlier in my childhood, thank you Fox…, because there was no NFL bye week and bowl games were done on New Years Day. Man, New Years Day used to be the greatest football day of the year. Games from ten in the a.m. until eleven that night – with the Sugar and Orange bowls on side by side for the night cap. So much college football in one day the sudden finality of it was a welcome respite. Not unlike like all that heavy binge drinking the night before.

Except you’re arguing at the barbershop over why USC deserved the national championship instead of Alabama rather than with the girlfriend over what the hell was going on with someone’s best friend last night.

A circumstance apparently so unpalatable to some that it must be remedied. Yes, the process is inherently subjective. But so would any playoff without fundamentally remaking college football and abandoning the bowl system altogether.

But so would any playoff without fundamentally remaking college football and abandoning the bowl system

Since I’m taking the day off to watch the Three Stooges Marathon on AMC and the Sun Bowl tomorrow this is going to ramble on I’ll bury the rest after the break. Especially since Nebraska is creaming Arizona in the Holiday Bowl…

The NFL playoffs work because there are one quarter of the teams as Division One college football. Four teams, in four divisions in two conferences. They play a sixteen game season, then twelve of the thirty-two teams go to the playoffs. That’s 37.5% of the teams. Multiply that times 120 D1 college football teams and you get a forty-five team playoff.

Impractical, right? That’s called taking it to the ridiculous in sales. Like the mere pennies a day you’ll pay for green energy. Or something like that. Anyway, most of the playoff proposals I’ve seen have been for an eight team playoff.

The Super Bowl champion will play either nineteen or twenty (if they play a wild card game) season. So how many games should we expect the D1 playoff champion to have played? The eight team format means three games on top of a twelve game regular season. Does a playoff mean no more conference championship games?

Good luck talking the SEC and Big12 out of their championship game dollars. Beyond dollars, the matter of subjectivity almost demands each of the eight playoff participants must be a conference champion. Otherwise someone is getting in based on polls, computer rankings, or some other “not determined on the field” criteria.

Twelve regular season plus one conference championship plus three playoff games equals sixteen games. That’s an NFL season – from which Fox or ESPN and the NCAA will pocket billions in advertising dollars. Why, maybe with a little promotion and a two week break between the semis and the championship the advertising could surpass the game itself just like the Super Bowl.

I see dinosaurs of college rock performing at halftime too. The Pixies. Elvis Costello. Veruca Salt. Bjork. Oh the humanity. Where’s Jello Biafra when you need him? He’d have something to say about exploiting college kids so fat cats can stuff their wallets.

Since economics would drive any playoff, week one of the playoffs are a logistical nightmare. First, you’ve got fans and teams who’ve just traveled to a neutral site championship game with one week to travel to another game. There’s no way to non-subjectively award one team the advantage of home field, playoff games would have to take place at a neutral site. Four straight travel games for teams playing the championship game.

Eight teams means four games week one, to be scheduled back-to-back-to-back-to-back on Saturday. The networks who shelled out big bucks for the rights wouldn’t want to compete against NFL football all day and night Sunday. They’ll want an exclusive audience for each game. I’ve got a feeling those eight a.m. Pacific Time (during the first game) and two-thirty a.m. Eastern (late game) ad slots will be a hard sell.

As much as I like sweating my silhouette into the couch through fourteen hours of college football I’m going to guess there would be a lot of peaks and valleys in the ratings. I admire anyone who thinks a playoff would survive in a vacuum, free of monetary concerns, for the enjoyment of the fans. Watching one BCS game on Fox will scare you straight.

Man, Nebraska killed Arizona tonight. 33-0 and held Arizona under 100 total yards. But for a kickoff out of bounds in the Big12 Championship they’d have beaten Texas. That and the mistaken notion the clock stops when the ball hits something rather than when the FJ stops the clock. Nebraska finished 22nd in the BCS standings and wouldn’t make anyone’s eight team bracket, but who in the hell would want to play them right now?

Who gets in and who gets left out? Logistics is noise compared to how you’d select eight out of one hundred-twenty teams for a playoff.

The current system sucks, or so it goes, because it is subjective, political and decides who plays for it all through hidden votes and proprietary computer code rather than on the field. That is indisputable. I think it was Bear Bryant, maybe Barry Switzer who once said something to the effect of let ’em vote how they want and if anyone says we’re number one we’ll proudly put it on a bumper sticker.

Still, unless you’re going to completely blow-up the existing conference structure to ensure eight conference champions are in the playoff there has to be a subjective component. There’s no easy way to structure a playoff-friendly D1 without huge changes. Eight conferences, two six-team division ala the SEC, ACC, and Big12 would mean 24 D1 programs go away. The Pac10, Big Ten, and Big East would have to expand, as would the Mountain West and WAC. You’d probably have to realign some of the conferences to maintain some balance of power. That means established conferences forced to share the wealth through expansion while subsidizing the MWC and WAC into the big leagues. Very Obamaesque.

Oh, and you’ll have to talk Notre Dame out of their sweetheart BCS deal (practically guaranteed a spot if they can manage to only lose two games) and their swanky TV contract too.

Otherwise it’s the current six BCS conference champs – three of whom don’t play championship games – plus two at-large teams selected…how? This year we’d get Texas, Alabama, Cincinnati, Oregon, Georgia Tech, and Ohio State from the BCS conferences. Then who? Undefeated Boise and TCU? Defending champ Florida (from the SEC!!!!!1!!1!111!!) on the outside looking in after losing a championship game, something BSU and TCU didn’t play?

Small potatoes though, right? If any health care bill is better than no health care bill then any college football playoff is better than no college football playoff.

Maybe. I guess we can always fix it later. People will like once they get used to it. Besides, who cares if #9 is bitching? Unless the Indianapolis Colt factor comes into play. Would college coaches yank players late in the season if they had the conference in the bag or have a championship game the next week? The Colts just pissed away a chance at immortality, you can bet your ass it would happen in the NCAA. On the plus side, there would be less incentive to schedule cupcakes…unless the coach is spooked about early season injuries ruining the season. Once there’s a playoff the season is all about the playoffs.

College football is great because the regular season matters. Jeez, this Sunday we get to watch the Cowboys and Eagles play to see who will host the other in a wildcard game the next week while the Packers and Cardinals preview their wildcard game next week. Anyone want to bet how long Kurt Warner plays? I say a half. It’s fan-tastic.

I told you this would drag on.

Worst of all from this old conservative’s point of view would be the death of the bowls. The “big” bowls – Orange, Sugar, Rose, and (sigh) Fiesta – couldn’t exist alongside a playoff. The host cities couldn’t justify the same events budget for two teams and their fans who would fly in on Friday and fly out Saturday night. The traditions would die. Sponsorship would disappear. Soon the games would be a shadow of themselves.

With the conference champs off to the playoffs, once proud games would be reduced to a match-up of runners-up. It would render the great games of yore meaningless.

The NFL has no soul, the teams and players are transient. It all feels so sterile and commercial. College football has always been different. The players’ names may change, but the teams are grounded in their communities. The Heisman transcends time. It seems sappy and sentimental, but the college game feels purer. Making big time college football more like the NFL just wouldn’t be an improvement in my eyes. Give me lots of polls, lots of champions, lore, conjecture, controversy, disappointment, and disagreement.

Lucky for me there’s too much money involved for the BCS conferences to have any reason to surrender the bastardized system we’ve got now. Comforting, but with Obama in the White House and a couple of unhinged Republicans in Congress (I’m looking at you, Joe Barton) a 2,200 page NCAA Division I Football playoff bill might be just the populist skyrocket to boost his sagging poll rating. And don’t think ACORN and the SEIU won’t have their finger in that pie.

It’s too depressing to think about.

Boomer Sooner. Seven National Championships, zero playoff wins. Choke on it.

"Obama and his friends preach tolerance, but there is bigotry at their group's core."
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