Welcome back to the Devil's Advocate, where I take a position opposite most of our readership. Previously, I made the case that Lane Kiffin is bad for Florida. Today, a subject that also gets the audience excited.
Today, the NCAA Frozen Four (that's hockey) will feature No. 16 Bemidji State. If that isn't enough to turn your chalk-loving stomach, there is also a No. 13 (Miami Ohio) and No. 9 (Vermont) seed. As often happens, the 16 and 13 play each other, creating a Cinderella story in the final game.
Fresno State is the defending College Baseball champions after defeating Georgia in the deciding Game 3 of the 2008 College World Series. Fresno is the lowest seeded team to ever win a national championship. Like Bemidji, they had to win the tournament championship in their weak conference after starting the season poorly.
While from different sports, Bemidji State and Fresno State are two examples of why there will never be a College Football playoff.
Imagine this; 13-0 Florida is the No. 1 seed in the first ever College Football Playoff. To respect conference winners, the six BCS conferences have invited the two best mid-major conference winners into the 16 team tournament. The teams include Sun Belt winner Troy, whose 9-3 record includes only losses to BCS conference teams. No. 16 Troy faces Florida in a first round game. The game is played in storm and Troy uses turnovers to defeat UF, 17-16, on a blocked extra point. Is this fair? Should Florida's season be dependent upon weather or an extra point? Does Troy even deserve to play for a National Championship? While you think that over, Troy has thrown Gatorade on their coach and is booking travel for their second round game against No. 9 Virginia Tech.
Here's another scenario; South Carolina's miracle 11-1 season earns them the No. 10 seed. After defeating Big Ten winner, No. 5 Ohio State, they travel cross country to upset No. 4 seed USC. But because of budget woes at South Carolina, the team has run out of money and now must bus from Los Angeles to Miami for the National Semifinal against No. 9 Virginia Tech (remember, UF is out). The team arrives two days before the game, and they get crushed by the Hokies.
Both are Doomsday predictions, but if college sports have taught us anything it is that anything is possible. George Mason basketball, Fresno State baseball and Bemidij State hockey all reached the pinnacle in their sports. Why couldn't Troy catch lightning in a bottle and upset Florida? Hell, UF played in a driving rainstorm (at FSU) and lost a game because of a blocked PAT (vs. Ole Miss) in 2008. You think that couldn't happen again?
A more likely scenario is a six team conference champions playoff where a crappy team (say an 8-4 Mississippi State defeating an undefeated Florida in the SEC title) earns their way in. Or 8-4 Cincinnati wins the eight-team Big East, then upsets Texas, who just won the hardest conference and division in college football.
We like the idea of the 65 team brackets and think that College Football fits right in. Not true. College Football is built to reward teams for the regular season. This is why not all conferences are allowed to have conference championships. A conference championship dilutes the regular season, putting a crappy team on the same field as a great team. Why does that crappy team deserve a shot? Is this fair because they won their division? Isn't more fair that the team with the better record wins the championship?
I'm not trying to say playoffs are bad. But the purpose of playoff expansion in pro sports is to make money. Which will make more cash; a Giants-Steelers Super Bowl on the first Sunday in January or Cardinals-Steelers the first Sunday in February after weeks of playoffs in 12 different cities?
The purpose of playoffs in college sports, minus football, is to find a champion. The NCAA created the basketball tournament because there was no respected poll to determine a champion. A playoff has no place in College Football because there has always been a credible polling association (currently the BCS).
The fact is that no one has been screwed by the current system. Have teams been left out? Yes, 2004 Auburn, but that was the year of four undefeated teams (USC, Oklahoma and Utah). But Auburn was not screwed. They got paid to play in the Sugar Bowl, where the SEC Champion always plays. Besides, Auburn entered into a contract that would honor the polling association. If Auburn had a problem with the agreement they played under, they can leave the agreement. This isn't Southern states seceding from the Union. It's College Football. If you have a problem, get out.
If Georgia had a problem with being paid to beat the holy crap out of Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl, don't you think they would have left the BCS? Don't you think if Texas had a problem with being paid to play in the Fiesta Bowl, instead of the BCS Championship Game, they would have left the BCS? Texas has a good law school, surely one of their grads could figure out a way to break Texas' contract with the BCS so they will never worry about their team getting screwed again.
Georgia and Texas might not have liked the decision of the polling association, but they will support the polls. The polls may not always come out favorably. But if you win 13 games, it is highly likely you will play for a National Championship. If you win 13 games in a playoff system, the only likely thing is that you'll be in the brackets where you'll face Bemidji or Fresno State or George Mason or Troy. That's why there will never be a College Football playoff.