College football fans, too often self-proclaimed critics, need a lesson in contentment.
The argument once consumed in criticism of the infamous Bowl Championship Series has this year evolved into repeated attacks on the committee-selected, four-team playoff.
Now, there are those as well who land on the opposing side, backing the neophyte system of determining rankings and national title shots. But the issue is polarizing, and opinions tend to get lost in misplaced partisanship instead of agreeing that the latest system has in actuality found an equitable middle ground.
Since the BCS’s establishment in 1998, fans have pleaded for a playoff system that’s completely impartial. The erstwhile system using a balance of objective computers and human polling — which sounds more unbiased than a committee of 13 people, five of whom are athletic directors from the Power Five Conferences (Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference) — simply wasn’t cutting it, or so they say.
So now we’ve got what we want. But the playoff still doesn’t appease the masses, and the reason why is democratic enough.
Folks who push for an eight, 16, 32 or even 64 team playoff (ignore the logistical absurdity of the proposition) want a system more beneficial to the players. It’s simple: The more teams that can get in, the more diverse the pool for an end-year tournament.
But let’s say the powers that be buy the idea of a 64-team playoff. Befittingly, the Power Five Conferences have exactly 64 teams.
Even if a March Madness rip-off did occur, the teams playing at the end of the year would still only be representative of the most economically powerful conferences in college football. No room for the 10-0 Marshalls of the world.
But this is OK for two reasons.
First, Marshall, with awe-inspiring wins over the likes of Rice and Old Dominion, has no business playing with the big boys.
Fans deserve to see the best players perform against one another at the end of the season, not Conference USA athletes that couldn’t cut it at a better school. An elite playoff is just another way of selecting the cream of the crop.
And second, a December-January Madness would essentially turn college football into college basketball, taking away the allure of each regular season game having major postseason implications.
The entire nation watched Saturday as No. 5 Alabama defeated No. 1 Mississippi State. The prospective national championship contenders came a long way toward being decided with the Tide’s 25-20 win.
No. 4 TCU may have actually worked themselves out of the committee’s top four with its four-point win over Kansas. The one-loss Horned Frogs trailed the Jayhawks by 10 late in the third, and this performance doesn’t bode well for the playoff-hopeful TCU. The Big 12 doesn’t have a conference championship game, so every regular season matchup turns into a playoff game.
The importance of regular season games like these, exactly what they newly-implemented system strives to accentuate and promote, would evaporate with an expanded playoff.
The entire design of the four-team playoff is to get fans interested and talking.
Why else would the committee release its rankings as early as late October? The buzz created adds viewers who subsequently add dollars to the already-stuffed pockets of the entity that is college football.
Fans get to watch, players get to play and old men in suits (add a token woman or two for diversity’s sake) get rich. No matter what the system in place is, this will be the power structure that governs.
Some (the players) are willfully exploited, and some (those with an affinity to college football’s bottom line) benefit from the exploitation.
As long as fans still buy merchandise, watch games, the role of the critic shall be designated as such.