We'll start with the obvious, which is that the college football playoff was fucking awesome and I am happy that it finally exists. It returned meaningful football games to New Year's Day, which I had missed dearly. It amplified the importance of regular season games, rather than diluting them. It ginned up the requisite amount of "controversy" and potential chaos at the end of the season, but left zero doubt as to the validity of its champion. With 4-seed Ohio State bullying both Alabama and Oregon in successive games, it completely debunked the idea that you can pair up the two best teams in a title game at the end of a season using a computer formula that incorporates a bunch of arbitrary rankings.
And the games made for awesome television, featuring two ghost fumbles, two Heisman trophy winners getting thoroughly humiliated, the return of the jerssiere as worn by Ezekiel Elliott (the garment was last seen on the 1994 Colorado Buffaloes), and the rise of a third-string quarterback who is bigger than my fucking house. All of that is good. It's been everything I've ever hoped for.
In 10 years, this will be bigger than the NFL playoffs. They will find a way to expand this to eight games, put a quadrupleheader of quarterfinal games on for New Year's Day, foster office pools, and 50 million people will tune in for every matchup. It's gonna be awesome. Players will still be paid in fishsticks, but still: Awesome.
Of course, you and I both know that it took a very long time to get to this point. It took decades for college football to unfuck itself, its brain webbed almost entirely with empty platitudes from bowl traditionalists like Jim Delany and former BCS director Bill "The Cock" Hancock:
The fact is the BCS accomplishes its mission with a stunningly popular national championship game. It regularly draws more viewers than the NCAA Final Four, the World Series, the NBA Championships and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And it does this while maintaining college football's wonderful regular season and also by preserving America's unique multiday bowl tradition that rewards student-athletes with a celebratory bowl-game week.
And they were aided by any number of contrarians in the press who treated the college football regular season as if it were sacrosanct ("The regular season IS the playoff!"), as if you deserved to be rewarded for scheduling all your nonconference games against the West Appomattox Lamed Orphans. So with the first-ever playoff a smashing success, and because I like easy targets, let's look back now on some of the BCS's most ardent defenders. We start, as any study of extensive idiocy does, with ESPN's Jason Whitlock:
The NFL season grinds to a halt beginning in late December when the best teams start resting their starters for the playoffs. In January we get fed four games for two consecutive weekends and then two games and then one. Most of the games are boring or one-sided.
Meanwhile, the college season concludes with a December and early January smorgasbord of football. Yes, the games aren't as significant, but there's a game on damn near every night, and a few of them are rather exciting.
Let's see if the NFL playoffs produce one game as thrilling as Virgina-Minnesota, Missouri-South Carolina, Michigan-Nebraska, Penn State-Florida State or Texas-USC.
Again, I like both systems. I'm just tired of hearing how a playoff system would solve college football's problems. College football doesn't have a problem.
And Chuck Klosterman:
I am against a playoff system for major college football. I feel crazy even typing that sentiment, because I've been socialized to believe that holding this philosophical position is akin to arguing that Shawn Kemp is gay. But the more I think about it, the more I believe I am right. A playoff system would be bad for the sport, it would makes things no more "meaningful" than the way things are now, and — somewhat selfishly — it would significantly decrease the value of my own existence.
I realize no one else feels this way. I do not care.
And Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News:
As a hypothetical concept, a national championship tournament is a wonderful idea. But as a practical matter, it doesn't fly.
And Matt Hayes of the Sporting News:
You win, Joe Sixpack. You win like few ever have in modern day sports.
In 16 short months, the BCS group that didn't give a flip what fans thought (or wanted, for that matter), have completely caved… they have a new name. They'll have a new logo that you, Joe Sixpack, will choose. And they'll have a shiny new trophy.
All that and – tada! — a whole lot of controversy.
(He certainly seems disgusted by the idea of a corrupt sports entity actually catering to the fairly reasonable tastes of TV viewers! WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF JOE SIXPACK'S CHILDREN?!)
And Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald:
No, a four-team playoff isn't going to fix a thing. In fact, it will only make college football's postseason even more maddening.
And Tim Kawakami, also of the San Jose Mercury News:
If you get rid of the BCS and finally put together the nirvana college football system, you must realize that some things will be lost in the process, right?
And Bomani Jones (No, Bomani, no!):
Playoff? How many teams? When would it start? Would it be an eight-team playoff, beginning the week after conference championship games, smack-dab in the middle of final exams at most schools? Are fans — and students — expected to pay to travel for these games right before Christmas?
Want to add a plus-one to the bowls? Sounds OK on paper, but that would eliminate one of the best things about bowl games — every team has had weeks to rest, making them the only postseason games without weary competitors. Further, playing that deep into January might interfere with the NCAA's gentleman's agreement with the NFL not to step on each other's turfs (the reason the NFL doesn't air Saturday games until late in the season). So don't bet on it.
And does anyone really think a playoff would stop the complaining around this time of year? No matter what, somebody on the margins will whine. The BCS chooses two teams to play for the national championship, and there's almost always a third team complaining about being left out. Expand to an eight-team playoff, and get ready for talk radio debates on how it's impossible for some committee to decide which two-loss team is the best.
So until someone comes up with an idea for how to make a playoff work, the BCS is the best we've got.
And Outside the Beltway:
It's rather obvious that fans are going to be just as disappointed with this system as they were with the BCS:
And something called The Federalist:
I fear that we may look back on the BCS years as a golden age for college football. We may find, twenty years from now, that we all retrospectively love the BCS.
You can see a running theme through all of these defenses, which essentially boil down to HOW WILL IT WORK?! Any argument in favor of the BCS was essentially an argument against making the necessary efforts to improve upon something. It's an example of people deluding themselves into accepting the status quo because they fear the unknown so completely. And now that you've seen the playoff in action, all of these takes seems even sillier than they did when they were first issued. Of course a playoff was better. Someone just had to go and fucking DO it. And you should never argue against the idea of doing things. (That means you, Joe Sixpack.)
Photo via Getty