7/3 Roundtable - There Should Be A Playoff
USC RB C.J. Gable
USC RB C.J. Gable
Posted Jul 3, 2009

7/3 Roundtable - Why should there be a playoff? It's the Friday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

July 3

Why should there 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 2 Why there shouldn't be a playoff?
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 twitter.com/CFN_Fiu and find out future roundtable topics and other random musings.

Q: Why should there be a playoff?

Because it would make sense.

There's no nobility in not having a playoff. This isn't fun for the fans, the players, or the media, despite what many might think. Sure, not having a playoff provides a ton of material for people like me, but I'd much, much rather spend my time analyzing games and debating the sport rather than complain about why there isn't some way to settle things on the field and not in the polls.

First, let's get rid of the anti-arguments. A playoff wouldn't kill the bowls; you could have both. The same fans watching the Emerald Bowl now would still watch if there was a playoff over the first week of January.

A playoff wouldn't do squat to hurt the academics. Everyone is off the final two weeks of December and the first week of January, while the NCAA men's basketball tournament comes in March, with midterms kicking in.

A playoff wouldn't kill the regular season ... if it was done right.

The big question is how college football would create a playoff without devaluing the regular season. Anti-playoff fans do have a point when it comes to the potential of ruining college football by making it just like every other sport. Texas vs. Oklahoma just wouldn't be the same if you knew both teams were going to get into a playoff. Despite what ESPN is trying to sell you, The Red Sox vs. the Yankees isn't a big deal unless the post-season is on the line. Duke vs. North Carolina in basketball is the most overblown rivalry in sports because it means absolutely nothing; the NCAA Tournament is all that matters. But it doesn't have to be that way for college football.

The key is to take this slow. College football wanted to make a change to the system, and we got the colossal embarrassment known as the BCS. But the powers-that-be do get things right once in a while, like the overtime system (at least compared to the NFL). The key will be to put a tight hold on the idea of expanding the playoffs once in place, and I'm not quite sold on that.

A plus-one scenario wouldn't work. How would the BCS matchups be set up knowing that there would be one more game to follow? If it was a four-team playoff, how would the four teams be determined? Do you take the top four teams according to the BCS? If so, then it would've been Oklahoma vs. Alabama and Florida vs. Texas last year with USC and Utah left out. Or do you just take conference champions, in which case you'd still have an argument from several programs if four are in.

16 teams are too many, but eight are just right, and the logistics really wouldn't be that hard. A generation from now, fans will look back at this time and wonder why it had to be so weird. Let's make the change now.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: Why should there be a playoff?

In the spirit of simplicity, I’ll, well, keep this extremely basic. There should be some form of a playoff because in most years, there’s not a clear-cut No. 1 and No. 2 in the BCS rankings, leaving at least one program and its legions of fans feeling screwed. And that system should be a plus-one, which is a fancy way of saying a four-team playoff.

We do not need a 16-team, NFL-like bracket for reasons that were discussed on Thursday. No, a plus-one is not perfect, but nothing will be, and it would represent a giant stride in the right direction. Would some No. 5 team get burned on occasion? Maybe, but by giving two additional schools a shot at the national title, you would greatly reduced the chaotic climate that’s become too common in early December. Plus, the bowls remain vibrant, the importance of the regular season is preserved, and the school presidents could hardly balk at one extra game for a pair of schools.

We’ve already got five BCS bowl games on the annual slate. Would it really be so difficult to transform one of them into a title game that pits the winner of the 1 vs. 4 game with the winner of the 2 vs. 3 game? It’s simple and minimally-invasive, yet would go a long way toward improving college football’s postseason

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: Why should there be a playoff?

There should be a college football playoff because, for the love of all that is good and true and holy, every other sport—despite having a regular season inferior to the one that unfolds on Autumnal Saturdays—actually manages to decide a clear-cut champion. Sure, these champions might not be the best team in the sport from Opening Day to final gun, but that’s a dynamic that can and does (and will) apply to just about any sport on some occasions. Cinderella sometimes takes the NCAA Tournament. The Pittsburgh Penguins sure as heck weren’t the best team in the NHL’s regular season. The Lakers were the best NBA team, but the Orlando Magic weren’t the second-best team in the league from game 1 through 82 (plus several early postseason games as well). The Arizona Cardinals weren’t the best team in the NFC, and goodness knows, the NFL needs to tweak its playoff seeding and site-allotment systems, but still, pro football offers closure and clarity (just not good football). The Philadelphia Phillies were not the best team in baseball during the 2008 regular season, and it can’t be denied that the wild card has horribly polluted, distorted, and just plain disgraced the ideals of baseball as the true test of a championship team, but no one—not even I—can dispute the Fightin’ Phils’ place as world champions of baseball.

Why, then, can’t FBS college football get its act together?!? Spare me the hypocritical and/or hollow arguments about disrupting or disrespecting the academic calendar. Utter poppycock. Don’t try the disingenuous tack of trumpeting “the sanctity of the regular season” when Oklahoma, 45-35 loser to Texas on a NEUTRAL FIELD, made the BCS title game instead of the Longhorns last season. And oh, don’t pump the bilgewater known as “lack of a business plan” as a reason for keeping the BCS at the expense of a playoff system. It would be VERY hard not to make a whole lot of money with a system that kept the BCS bowls, but used them as quarterfinals in an eight-team playoff that would then have a Final Four at the same BCS sites on the Saturday before the NFL’s conference championships games. The following Sunday--in the off-week between the NFL’s conference title games and the Super Bowl—a national title game would be played. And if complaints about the academic calendar really would get in the way of that plan(the season would essentially be extended by 1.5 to 2 weeks; just how disruptive could that really be?), then move the schedule up one week, and have the four quarterfinals on the first weekend after Christmas Day. Someone could figure it out, I’m sure.

Hunter Ansley, Publisher, DraftZoo.com

Q: Why should there be a playoff?

A: Because LSU and USC should have been able to decide the tile on the field in 2003.  Because an undefeated Auburn team shouldn’t have had to watch Oklahoma get dismantled by USC.  Because Boise State and Utah should have a chance to play until someone can beat them.  Because the SEC could use another bragging point.  Because college football is the only major sport in the world that doesn’t have a playoff.  Because it won’t downplay the regular season, it will only heighten it by making every weekend a round of the bracket.  Because deciding the two best teams in the country based on formulas, rankings and half-baked voting is ludicrous.  Because Texas was bumped from the title game last year by a team they had already beaten head to head.But most of all, because football is played on a field, not in a laptop.  And although every other title contender in every other sport is decided by actually playing games, college football picks their matchup from a damn computer.  Football is not a game of percentages and probabilities and easily quantifiable statistics.  It’s an emotional, gut-wrenching crusade to find out who wants it more and who truly deserves to win.  That data can’t be configured while sitting at a desk. 

Jon Miller, Publisher, HawkeyeNation.com

Q: Why should there be a playoff?

The fact that the college coaches final coaches poll ballot is going to go back to being anonymous in 2010 is a big deal to me, as that is one-third of the BCS. Another third consists of computer poll averages. Computers! Like when they said that strength of schedule would no longer be a component of the BCS, that was BS, because strength of schedule, and the strength of your opponents opponents, is coded into some of the computer models. So that's a red herring of sorts.

All that being said, the only playoff model that I can stomach is the 'And One' model. Take the four BCS bowl games as they are decided upon right now, and have a committee of esteemed and objective (LOL) voters decide which two teams will then play in the BCS national championship game one week later. I suspect that in most years, this will be pretty clear. This keeps the present bowl system in place, it keeps the BCS money flowing and gives us one more football game where on field merit has paved the way for placement.