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7/2 Roundtable - There Shouldn't Be A Playoff
Utah WR Freddie Brown
Utah WR Freddie Brown
Posted Jul 2, 2009

7/2 Roundtable - Why shouldn't there be a playoff? It's the Thursday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

July 2

Why shouldn't there be a playoff?
(Tomorrow, why there should be a playoff.)

Over the next several weeks, as part of the CFN 2009 Preview, we'll examine some of the key questions going into the year with a daily discussion of the big topics.

Past Roundtables
July 1 The most unbreakable record is ... ?
June 30 Does it matter that the BCS is going to ESPN?
June 29 What's the best non-BCS program?
June 26
What rule would you like to see changed?

June 25
What is wrong with the Big Ten?

June 24 The 3 big non-conference games

June 23 The Coach On The Biggest Hot Seat Is ... ?
June 22 The No. 5 team will be ... ?

June 19
The most underrated team will be ... ?

June 18 The most overrated team will be ... ?
June 17 The sleeper national title teams
June 16 Do 40 times really matter?
June 15 Does college football need a Rooney Rule?
June 12 Should Alabama vacate wins?
June 11 Should college football players be paid?
June 10 Is the recruiting hype too much?
June 9 If you were starting an NFL team ...
June 8 Where would you take over as head coach?
June 5 Who does the least with the most?
June 4 Who does the most with the least?
June 3 The star players of September
June 2 The star teams of September
June 1 The coach you'd want for one game
May 28 Should the Big Ten expand, and if so, then what team should be added?
May 27 Should the Pac 10 expand? If so, then what two teams should be added?
May 26 Chizik, Kiffin or Mullen?
May 25 Heisman race sleepers 
May 22 2009's most interesting teams

May 21 Is Tebow the best QB ever?
May 20 When should preseason polls come out?
May 19 Does 2008 Utah have a beef?
May 18 No BCS, No Weis?

Pete Fiutak, CFN

Yes, I'm part of the problem. You can check me out at and find out future roundtable topics and other random musings.

Q: Why shouldn't there be a playoff?

Let's take this from the most elemental level, strip away what we've all come to accept as the norm in the sports world, and ask one very important question: what's the point?

Why are sports seasons played? At the FBS level of college football and beyond, at the D-I men's basketball level, and for all pro leagues, sports has little to do with the fun of competing. Forget all the naive love-of-the-game crap; big-time sports are a business, and those who don't think that way are the ones who aren't good enough to compete for anything real. The only reason playoffs, in all their forms, exist is to make more money for the sports leagues. If it was about anything else, like finding out who the best team really is, other sports would get it right.

If a sport wants to come up with a true champion then there's no real reason for a playoff. Baseball used to have it right when the team with the best record in one league played the team with the best record in the national league in the World Series. Owners of mediocre teams got sick of their teams being out of it in late June and changed things to add more playoff teams and a wild-card.

The NCAA men's basketball tournament used to have it right when it only allowed in conference champions, and then the whole thing got all gwonked up by expanding the field and adding every team that could dribble and chew gum at the same time. While the tournament is fantastic, there's a huge fluke factor involved and it has completely and totally ruined the significance of the regular season. No one really cares about college basketball anymore, but the tournament is every bit as big as the Super Bowl.

The other sports have screwed it up, too, all in the name of money. The NFL has the wild-card, meaning a team like the 2007 New York Giants can get second chances in a playoff format, after proving to be inferior to the Patriots, Cowboys, and Packers in the regular season (losing to the Cowboys twice and getting blasted by the Packers), and can win the Super Bowl. Hockey and basketball play seven game series, and why? Money. If it's about figuring out who the best team is, then one game would suffice, even thought the No. 1 teams in each conference should play for the title and the entire playoff format should scrapped.

College football, as messed up as it is to get to the final solution, gets it right more often than any other sport. There's absolutely no flukiness involved, and while you might have a beef with a team like Utah last year or USC at times over the last few seasons not getting a shot to play for it all, it's tough to argue with the team that went through the wars of the regular season and won a BCS Championship. There's no 1985 Villanova in the NCAA Tournament , 2006 St. Louis Cardinals, and no Pittsburgh Steelers of 2005.

My concern with a college football playoff is a slippery slope. It can be done right (six BCS league champions, the top non-BCS conference champion, and one wild-card), but eventually, college football would go for the money, devalue the regular season, and screw it all up with more wild card, and expanded tournament, and a Cinderella here and there.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: Why shouldn't there be a playoff?

Be careful what you wish for, folks. Sometimes you get it, and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Unfortunately, everything in life has a cost, and very few things are truly free. A playoff in college football is no different. Although it sounds sexy and has certainly been trendy for years, you absolutely do not want to become the NFL. One of the most charming and endearing aspects of the game is that it’s not the National Football League. I think of the playoff debate a lot like the healthcare debate. Are changes needed? Yup. Is a complete overhaul in order? No way.

There are a few things that an NFL-style playoff jeopardizes. First, you run the risk of burying the bowl games, which just wouldn’t be right. I know, we’ve reached a certain laughable level with the spostseason games, but so many of them are part of the college football fabric and key cogs in local communities. They should have an undeniable part in this process. Second, you do not want to trample the importance of the regular season in college football, which could happen if the brackets are too large. How about this for a scenario? Having already clinched a playoff, Ohio State decides to rest a dozen or so starters for the annual showdown with Michigan. You roll your eyes today, but it can and would happen with, say, a 16-team playoff.

Change can be good, but you don’t need to kill a fly with an anvil. Let’s modify the postseason without the line between college and the pros blurred, destroying some of the things that make Saturdays so special to so many people.

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: Why shouldn't there be a playoff?

My intellectually honest answer to this question is, “I can’t give you one.” But if forced to (gasp!) argue in favor of a no-playoff landscape in college football, the best response would be to say that there’s an insufficient amount of high-caliber non-conference matchups in any given season. The paucity of prime pigskin passion plays involving teams from different corners of the country makes it virtually impossible to arrive at a foolproof national champion. USC and Florida have never played over the past few years. Ditto USC and LSU. Oklahoma and Ohio State haven’t gotten after each other this decade. How many other thermonuclear showdowns have not taken place in the BCS era? Even if you played two or three of these top-of-the-line tilts in bowl games, you still wouldn’t be able to cross-pollinate every team and test every available matchup. Might as well have multiple teams win their last game of the season, in the bowl format college football knows intimately.

Hunter Ansley, Publisher,

Q: Why shouldn't there be a playoff?

A: Because if we move to a playoff system then we’ll all have to listen to Dan Beebe whine about how “players in playoff systems aren’t as happy.”  I’m not making that up.  That’s what he said during the Bedlam Game last season.  In all seriousness, there is absolutely no reason not to move to some form of a bracket.  Even if it’s just a ‘plus one.’  Anyone who says otherwise probably just flew away in a Leer Jet with a big BCS logo on the side.

Jon Miller, Publisher,

Q: Why shouldn't there be a playoff?

I have been against a playoff for a long time, but my opposition to it is weakening in light of the Coaches Poll going anonymous starting in 2010.  That really irks me.  These guys are multimillionaires and they can't stand a little heat from their own brethren?  If you are ornery enough to play shenanigans with your vote then you should be man enough to let your vote be counted.  If a player came to a coach and said, 'yeah coach, that workout program you want us to do in the summer?  I might not be into that, but I might be.  But here is the thing, if I don't do it, you can't count that against me in the fall, mmmky?'  These kids are accountable for all of their actions, or inactions, in a football program.  But the men at the top of these programs don't want their final votes of the year to be public?  Heck, the final vote is the easiest to cast!  This poll counts for one-third of the BCS formula.  Another one-third comes from computers!  So I am running out of reasons to not want at least an 'and one' model.

The only reason I don't want a playoff right now is because I truly believe the college football regular season is the most compelling drama in all of sports.  Sure, the NCAA tournament one and done setting is a lot of fun, but every single college football game matters.  An NCAA basketball game in November and December is getting to be on par with an NBA regular season game.  If we have an 8 or 16 game college football playoff, you take away that drama.  Plus, I love the bowl season, even if there are a few too many of those.  Perhaps I am just old school...wait, I know I am.  I prefer the pre-BCS and pre-Bowl Coalition system, the backroom bartering system to anything.