Tuesday, May 20

Playoff argumentation the second: the "Because I Said So" part.

OK, I thought I had left the playoff debate behind for good, but the whole thing left a sort of "earworm" in my head (one that, on the bright side, replaced Bananarama's "Cruel Summer") and, upon the further reflection that that inspired, I realized there was an anti-playoff argument in addition to the rational, somewhat objective argument presented the other day: the reasoning-free, purely subjective "'cause I don't wanna" argument.

College football is like Kate Hudson in "Almost Famous": Explanation coming in 3, 2 . . .

Here's the deal: The current CFB postseason, with its weird-ass bowl sponsors and its clusterfuck of a title-selection process, makes college football kind of like that hot mess you dated back in college. She was a total trainwreck, and you wondered how she maintained enough mental stability to so much as put one foot in front of the other sometimes, but she was stupidly, blazingly hot, all kinds of fun in the 50-to-75 percent of the time she wasn't collapsing into a blubbering mess, and perhaps most importantly, actually enjoyed hanging out with your dirty, unpleasant-smelling ass. Yes, college football's postseason system is a Romper Room of dysfunction on an annual basis, but . . . doesn't that kind of make it unique? Do you really want it to straighten itself out with the cold, ruthless corporate efficiency of the NFL?

I don't, and I'm one of the biggest NFL fans around -- my Georgia fandom didn't shift into overdrive until I was actually at UGA, but I've been a Washington Redskins fan since my dad got the green light to decorate my three-year-old self with a #81 Art Monk T-shirt. Yet even as I've maintained joint Bulldogs/Redskins rooting interests over the past couple decades or so, I've liked the NFL and college football for reasons that are actually really different. They aren't interchangeable, and I don't want one to turn into the other.

Before I continue, a moment of silence, please, for the Quiet Man.

The NFL has but 32 teams, all of whom are relatively even in talent, so an "upset" really only means that some actually-pretty-decent team managed to overcome a point spread nobody would touch in the college game. It's only logical that measures should be taken to single out one superior team that rises above the rest; yes, every team except for one has to end their season with some kind of disappointment, but they're all big boys, and it's not like they aren't getting paid enough, so I have no problem telling the other 31 teams tough shit, try again next year.

But college is different. There are 120 teams covering a dramatically huge spectrum of ability from "dynasty" to "hopeless bottom-feeder," so if someone manages to pull an upset and somehow manages to pull out, say, an 8-4 season after years of failure, maybe I don't want to subject them to a system where they might have to end their season on a down note. Lest you think that makes me a bleeding-heart softie, I want the same thing for the perennial powerhouses. Think of it this way: I was kind of psyched that, after a trying 2006 season in which the Bulldogs had to right the ship after a 1-4 slump, they still got the chance to end the campaign with a blaze of glory by upsetting the Hokies in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. At the same time, I'm really grateful that the Dawgs got to end the 2007 season as Warrior-eviscerating Sugar Bowl champions rather than a future trivia question ("Which SEC team missed the 2007 plus-one playoff field by thaaaaat much?"). Yes, a single, indisputable national champion is an admirable goal, but is it one I'd trade the above simple pleasures for? Not if the only proposed methods of achieving that goal are as vulnerable to abuse and whoring-out as today's playoff proposals are. Honestly, maybe not at all.

Oh, yeah, you remember this.

I don't know -- maybe it's just because my continuing development as a sports blogger has shown me that there are far worse things in the world than something to be endlessly argued and bantered over, but I no longer think a split national title is nearly the affront to God, country, and the memory of Pop Warner that I used to. And I know you may be out there grumbling, "You'll change your tune if it's Georgia that ends up 'sharing' the title with Southern Cal this year," but you know what? If one poll ends up putting Georgia at the top at the end of the season and another poll puts someone else there, I'm still going to be thrilled with my team and the season they played. I'm still going to cry like a little girl with a skinned knee when they hoist that "National Champions" flag over Sanford Stadium before the 2009 home opener. And I'm still going to shove it in the faces of any and every Georgia Tech fan I come across.

Now, I still think the BCS is still someone's sad idea of a science project and has no business being anywhere near college football, but that doesn't mean a playoff is the answer. Again, I'd be perfectly happy to just kick it old school and go back to the status quo ante Coalition that existed back in the days of gigantic shoulder pads and Dick Enberg. Yup, this commie pinko liberal, who's in favor of gay marriage and marijuana legalization, will still defend tradition to the death when it comes to college football. If it was good enough for the 1980 Dawgs -- and boy, was it ever good -- why can't it be good for us?


Holly said...

I wonder how many playoff proponents are converted in the offseason by the siren song of IT MEANS MORE FOOTBALL, whatever the cost.

Josh said...

I disagree with you more about this than I disagree with you about politics. And you know the vast chasms of nothingness I'm talking about.

A playoff - even a plus-one - is essential to making college football a legitimate sport. Until then, its primary appeal lies in its ability to be the world's most kick-ass social event. As an actual sport, the NFL holds the edge because of its postseason.

I can't believe you, a tried-and-true liberal, can find yourself on the side of the most corporate, money-driven aspect of the sporting world. Money drives everything in the current set-up, and "love of the game" is pushed aside with absolute consistency.

(Of course, I also favor gay marriage and marijuana legalization, but aside...)

Josh said...

Oh, and I'm pretty sure I'm shit-faced right now, so disregarding grammatical errors and logical inconsistencies.

fenwayspal said...

...and it was good enough for the 1997 U of M Wolverines and the U of Nebraska Cornhuskers!! wouldn't trade it for anything.

Pascagoula St. said...

Holy shit! Did you know my college girlfriend???