Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Not too soon to brace yourself for another flawed National Championship game.

The Dawgs are hitting, the days are counting down, and my Google Reader is blowing up with unread stories.  Seems like the perfect time for me to go on another playoff rant.

While I might be among the majority of college football fans, I am certainly in the minority of Georgia bloggers on this issue.  The many obstacles standing in the way of a playoff have been noted over and over again. Most, if not all, of these obstacles are by design. They are there to protect the status quo. Heck, many of you reading this have been convinced that a program's revenue is more important than a legitimate shot at a winning a national championship.

Yes, we have the best regular season in all of sport. Yes, we have more tradition and history than most sports. Yes, this is how we have always done it. Yes, I believe championships should be decided on the field. No, I am not sold on the idea that a playoff would hurt Georgia financially. No, I do not think a two team playoff in which the participants are voted in qualifies as a true championship.

The current system, like most bureaucrocies, serves the weak at the expense of the strong. I recently saw a posting stating that any system that gets the Arizona Cardinals into the champioship game is a flawed system due to their weak regular season record.  My position is that their weak regular season record may be due to the competition they faced. After all, in the post season they whipped every team that came before them before ultimately losing to the Steelers in the Super Bowl.  What is wrong with that?

Tony Barnhardt spoke with Gary Danielson about the upcoming SEC season. The subject was not about a playoff, but this statement speaks volumes about the problems with the current BCS arrangement. Danielson: Georgia will be the surprise team of SEC | Mr. College Football
“I don’t think there is any doubt that it is separating itself because it will attract great players for the foreseeable future. But here is the danger and I started saying this three years ago. The future challenge for this league is that if the rules don’t change for playing for the national championship (only the top two in the BCS standings get in) it is going be more difficult for the SEC to keep winning national titles. These teams are going to be so good. Ole Miss is improving. Arkansas is improving. Auburn is going to come back. Tennessee is going to come back. Florida, Alabama, LSU, and Georgia are great programs. You’re going to have a bunch of teams with two losses and people are going to start thinking this is an average league. They would be wrong, but that will be the perception.

Right now the SEC has the benefit of everything going their way. They are going to win all tiebreakers. Their teams will be ranked higher at the beginning of the year and deservedly so. But does a one-loss SEC team jump ahead of an undefeated Big Ten team? As we move forward there is going to be tremendous pressure to put the undefeated teams in.

Things changed for the SEC when (No. 4) Florida jumped over (No. 3) Michigan in 2006 and played Ohio State for the national championship and won. Could they change again because the SEC gets so tough and really starts beating each other up? That’s the danger I see down the road.”


AuditDawg said...

That same 2008 Cardinals team also lost by 40 points in the regular season to a Patriots team that didn't even make the playoffs. That would be like just ignoring the whole game in Jacksonville and saying that Georgia was a championship-worthy team just because they made it to the postseason last year. The contention I hold (which I believe is what the Senator believes) is that a playoff eventually exists to sustain itself. Ignoring all other external factors (i.e. TV contracts, bowl contracts), that is my primary resistance to the idea of a playoff in Division 1 football. Many argue that March Madness is a great event (which it is), but you don't see many people, other than the die-hards, giving two flips about the regular season.

The tipping point for me in the pro-playoff/anti-playoff debate was when Dennis Felton was retained after making it to the NCAA tourney in 2008. Because his team had a miracle run in the SEC tourney and made it to the post-season he kept his job even though all indicators pointed that he didn't deserve it other than that four game run in March. With the inevitable expansion that will happen in a playoff system (if you believe it won't happen, look at what the size of the NCAA basketball tournament was 40 years ago compared to today), I fear that we run into a situation like that where we begin rewarding mediocre to average coaches just for simply making it to the post-season without any semblance of sustained excellence.

Granted, I like your arguments, but I feel the mainstrem media is too quick to say "the majority of fans want a playoff" or "a playoff would solve everything" as if a playoff is some sort of miracle Band-Aid for all the problems that plague college football. I guess this is something we just have to agree to disagree on, but I've yet to see a persuasive argument that tells me a playoff is any better or gives us a more definitive champion than the current system does.

MikeInValdosta said...

The same argument can be made on the other end of the spectrum. Who is to say that a 2 loss team from a power conference that played a grueling schedule is not superior to an undefeated team from the Big-10 or Pac-10?

Furthermore, Audit, your narrative has produced an Oklahoma and Nebraska participant that did not even win its last game. How is that superior to a team that won it's division and beat the teams it faced in the playoffs.

Georgia not winning it's division/conference is the very reason I do not point to 2007 as a year the Dawgs got screwed. However, A 2 loss SEC champ should not be deemed unworthy simply because another conference or two produced undefeated champs. The comparisons are mute unless the competition is the same.

As for UGA winning the basketball tournament, 11 teams had an opportunity to prevent that. Perhaps the rules should be changed to only allow the top half of the conference into the tourney.... But voting did not play a role.

I do not know how Auburn would have fared in 2004, hell, they may have gotten thumped by both of the teams ahead of them. But to be denied the opportunity because of computers, when Oklahoma basically bought one of Auburn's scheduled games that year forcing them to pick up Charleston, thereby providing the strength of schedule difference is just infuriating. And I HATE auburn.

In any event, I always enjoy arguing with you on the subject.