Olympic Hockey- Proof That College Football Needs a Playoff

You might be wondering what Olympic hockey and college football have in common. Not much really, but one should be a lot more like the other. For those of you who may have watched these winter Olympics, you saw some great hockey games. You also saw it culminate into a very exciting playoff. Now let us suppose the BCS was running Olympic hockey. Here is what would have happened with the men.

The gold medal game today would have been between the United States and Sweden. The bronze match would have been Russia against Finland. Everyone else would have played an exhibition game, similar to the gala ice skating event which is totally irrelevant. Actually, Germany and Latvia would not have played anything as they never earned a point in the preliminary round. And that would have been it.

Never mind the fact that the two best teams happened to be in the same preliminary group. Never mind that Group B had more NHL players than the others. The only thing that matters is the short preliminary round and it determines everything.

Let’s switch back to college football. The preliminary round is the regular season. The groups are each of the conferences. Let us use the 2009 season now as an example and compare it to Olympic hockey.

In the hockey tournament, everyone was given a fair shot. In the first round, 5 beat 12, 6 beat 11, 7 beat 10 and 8 beat 9, just as you would expect. Those who simply weren’t as good didn’t last in the tournament. Then in the quarterfinals, 1 beat 8, 2 lost to 7, 3 lost to 6 and 4 beat 5. Not exactly what you would expect. So the semi-final match ups turned out to be 1 over 4 and 6 over 7. And the final games saw 6 over 1 and 4 over 7. Adding to the drama was that 1 had already played 6, so it was a revenge game with more on the line.

Never do you see that kind of drama in college football! Now imagine this past season. Let us suppose 16 teams went to the playoff, based on winning their conference (group) during the regular season (preliminary round). You then take 5 at large teams and seed them 1-16. Here are the likely seeds and what would happen if the higher seed won each game.

1. Alabama over 16. Troy
2. Texas over 15. East Carolina
3. TCU over 14. Central Michigan
4. Cincinnati over 13. Penn State
5. Boise State over 12. LSU
6. Florida over 11. Virginia Tech
7. Oregon over 10. Iowa
8. Georgia Tech over 9. Ohio State

Then we look at the quarterfinals:

1. Alabama over 8. Georgia Tech
2. Texas over 7. Oregon
3. TCU over 6. Florida
4. Cincinnati over 5. Boise State

The semi finals:

1. Alabama over 4. Cincinnati
2. Texas over 3. TCU

And the final:

1. Alabama over 2. Texas

How many of you think all of those circumstances would actually play out? I highly doubt it. And the Olympic hockey tournament proved it. Florida goes in as a No. 6 seed. But aren’t the probably better than teams ranked ahead of them? They just happened to have played the best team in the country. Would TCU really have beaten Florida? Perhaps. But would Texas have survived Oregon? Would Boise State have gotten past LSU? These are all great match ups.

And this is precisely why college football needs a playoff. Because in a real tournament, No. 1 never ends up playing No. 2. It isn’t about who deserves what, who had a stronger schedule, or anything else. It is about being fair. You don’t deserve to play for a championship because you won the SEC and went undefeated. You deserve to play for a championship if you can survive in a tournament of the country’s best teams. That’s how you earn a title. Not from some silly voting and computer rankings. Changing a computer ranking formula is so easy to do that adding your own bias is incredibly simple. I don’t trust them and I don’t trust voters.

The BCS system is terrible. A playoff is what college football really needs. What has a higher viewership, the Super Bowl or the BCS Championship? I rest my case.