A Compelling Case For A College Football Playoff

Those of you who regularly follow this blog know of our undying hatred of the BCS. Oddly, it was originally implemented so that we could have an undisputed National Champion each year. I don’t think I need to say what an utterly terrible disaster that has become. How many “arguable” national champions had their been previously? And how many have we had since? But with March Madness ending yesterday, a thought dawned on me. Yes, it happens sometimes. But I thought of a very compelling reason why a college football playoff can and should be implemented.

Let us look at the two closest sports to college football- NCAA basketball and the NFL. First, last year’s NFL attendance figures. Notice the percent of capacity to which they fill their stadiums. All but 6 teams average 90% or better capacity. Somehow Dallas managed 112% capacity, which seems off for some reason, but that’s what they got.

Now how many times have we heard the stale argument: “Well you can’t have a playoff, it would diminish the importance of the regular season!” Really? Well, in spite of only 12 teams making the NFL playoffs, a whole lot of them managed to nearly fill their stadiums to capacity each week. And that is a 16 game schedule, not 12. They play divisional rivals twice each year in the NFL, not just once like in college conference play.

So why did so many people watch the Bears or the Seahawks? Seattle had no chance at the playoffs pretty early on, yet they sold out every game it would appear. Should the playoffs, and Seattle’s inability to make them, have “diminished the value of their season?” For the fans it did not appear that way, did it? And my playoff proposal is for sixteen teams, that would make a four week tournament, just like the NFL postseason.

Not only that, find me a Michigan-Ohio State game that didn’t sell out? Has it ever happened? And yet some times neither team is playing for anything! Same with Oregon-Oregon State, BYU-Utah, Alabama-Auburn and any other rivalry game. People don’t care about the BCS or postseason now, they still come out to all their team’s games. What would a playoff do to change that?

Now look at college hoops. Duke just won the March Madness tournament. Does anyone even remember when it started? No, of course not, it is an incredible 64 teams. That is 63 games played in the tournament. No one wants to watch them all. No one cares. We all fill out impossible brackets for the hope we might beat the guesses of our coworkers and friends. What happens when you lose a final four team? What happens if your champion goes down? How much interest was there in March Madness after Kansas lost? NONE! Because tons of people picked them to win it. When they were out, those people could no longer win the pool, so they didn’t care anymore.

Too many cooks spoil the broth, right? Well, March Madness is a huge tournament. So big that people don’t really care after the beginning. The thrill and drama of the first two rounds is not at all matched by the Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight. Heck, my pick didn’t even make it to the Final Four, so I never even watched one of those games or the championship. But the NFL playoffs on the other hand, those garner attention. Those sell out stadiums. Those have a lot of fans watching at home.

A college football playoff cannot be like March Madness. People would not care about the regular season. They would only care if you made the tournament. Then they would root for you like crazy until you were eliminated and then lose all interest in the tournament.

But just imagine if college football had its own Super Bowl. That would get some attention. Team and conference pride would be on the line. Sixteen teams keeps it small enough that brackets are never really done since there aren’t that many possibilities compared to March Madness.

There is nothing to lose by implementing a playoff. All other divisions of college football already do it, so the feasibility is taken care of. The NFL does it and to great success for their regular season and postseason. Finally, no more dispute about the national champion. That would be great. Then anyone would have a chance at winning the championship. Of course, the big boys don’t want parity in college football like there is in college basketball. So they have their cartel called the BCS to keep the big boys up and the little guys down. We’ll never see equity in college football until we see parity. And we’ll never see parity until we see a playoff.