Forget the playoff, the system worked

By Bob Wojnowski
Updated: December 17, 2009

DETROIT — Wah, wah, wah. Ah, the sounds of the holiday bowl season.

Near as I can tell, the primary criticisms of college football haven’t changed for years, since way back when Michigan used to contend for Big Ten championships. In brief:


There are too many dang bowls, such as the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl, which I didn’t make up. Or the Wendy’s Big Bacon Deluxe Bowl, which would be my personal favorite if it existed.


Why can’t there be a playoff system so everything gets drawn out and formulaic and injury-riddled like the NFL? Darn it, it’s time college football became like every other sport!

Oh, shut up already. I’m not saying the bowl system is great. I’m not that big of an idiot. But I’m not ready to radically change a sport that still stirs more passion on a weekly basis than any other. I’m not willing to risk that, not until I’m confident it’s absolutely necessary.

Besides, it sure looks to me like the BCS got a legitimate national championship game pitting unbeaten Alabama and unbeaten Texas. It’s a great matchup between storied programs that, uh, cripes, what is all that noise?


Oh right, them: Unbeaten TCU, unbeaten Boise State, unbeaten Cincinnati, six-beaten Notre Dame. All worthy title contenders, of course.

But this is the point I simply can’t get through people’s hard heads: College football, by its very setup, cannot be fair.

You have 120 Division I-A programs from different-sized schools in different-sized conferences with different-sized stadiums that present unique scheduling challenges. The search for equity, while noble, is impossible.

For instance, TCU appears to be a very good team. Maybe it’d give Texas or Alabama a very good game. But when you play in a smaller conference like the Mountain West and face two or three truly tough opponents all season, you need extraordinary circumstances to get a shot at the title. Hey, if it matters so much, join a bigger conference. (I hear the Big Ten’ish has an opening!)

Playoff wouldn’t work

So, you say, how about an eight-team playoff? I think that’d be fascinating, but it still wouldn’t be fair. The NFL allows 12 of its 32 teams into the post-season (37.5 percent), with even the Lions eligible, although not really. College football would allow eight of 120 (6.6 percent), and I guarantee you, plenty would still shriek.

You’d also have logistical problems with stadiums and fan travel, especially if bowl sites were incorporated. Why can’t it be like cuddly Division II or Division III football? Not comparable. Have you seen the puny crowds in puny stadiums for those playoff games?

Big-time college football is unique, and even with its flaws, I wouldn’t mess with it right now. If you’re an adamant pro-playoff guy, I’ve got more bad news for you: You’re aligned with politicians.

Some Texas dork recently got a bill passed by a House subcommittee with the goal of forcing a playoff system. If it somehow became law, all the bill really would do is demand the BCS stop calling its title game a “national championship game.” An amendment also forbids use of terms such as “The Big Game” or “The Final Game.” Seriously, don’t politicians have more important things to worry about, like getting Tiger Woods back on a golf course?

I’m guessing the Capitol Hill bar was open late that night. I’m also guessing the politicians soon will turn their attention to Major League Baseball, demanding to know why it calls its championship the “World Series,” when non-North American teams never seem to get invited.

While you’re dabbing Boise State’s tears, save a tissue for the Yomiuri Giants, please.