(What I'm about to say is not likely to be popular. It may seem seem like a devolution to some, but I feel enlightened by it)
As you've undoubtedly heard, a plus-one playoff format was rejected by the conference commissioners last weekend. With all the fan calls for a playoff system like we have in EVERY other sport, you may be thinking that the commissioners dropped the ball by not giving the consumers what they want.
Me? I breathed a sigh of relief.
For years, I've advocated for a playoff. I've advocated on this blog many times that I wanted a playoff. As a lifelong Duck fan, there is no doubt in my mind we win the 2001 national championship with a playoff. But although I know that my newfound views won't exactly be popular among many of the Duck faithful, I have indeed crossed over to the dark side.
Its not as if one day I just woke up and decided that I don't want a playoff anymore. It was a process, and I remember some of the steps distinctly. Its also not as if I've stopped believing that a playoff is the fairest way to determine that it is. It undoubtedly is. And the players probably deserve one. But, asking what's fair and what's the best thing for college football and, more specifically, the college football fan, is much different.
I started having these thoughts early on last football season. I'm sitting there watching the Cal-Tennessee game in week one. And I started thinking to myself: why the hell am I watching Cal-Tennessee. If it's a basketball game, there is no way I'm watching Cal-Tennessee. Yet I watched every minute of that game. And I watched Oregon State-Cincinnati. And USC-Nebraska. Oh, and not just Pac-10 games. I watched West Virginia-Rutgers. And Oklahoma-Missouri. And basically football every minute of every Saturday all fall.
I thought about it during the Cal-Tenn game, but didn't really think much more about it until the NCAA tournament, which is my favorite weekend of the year. I love the NCAA Tournament. As a sporting event, it is perfect. But it also made me realize a reality--I didn't watch a single college basketball game not involving the Ducks all year. I'll watch every Duck basketball game that I can because I'm a die hard, but I won't watch other teams until the tournament.
And it has nothing to do with football vs. basketball, because I like the sport of basketball a hell of a lot more than I do football. But the regular season games in basketball matter very little compared to football. In football, so many games affect the championship picture that I feel I can't miss anything. The games are too compelling, the drama too much. The first game of the season can have a profound effect on the national championship.
I've really found that college football is bigger than just the games themselves. Part of the fun of the game is the rankings, and the unknowns, and the debates. In basketball, nobody gives a damn if their team is in the top ten six weeks into the season. In football, your team damn well better be.
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that college basketball isn't the same as college football. I've already said that I love the tournament. Also, I'm not sure my wife would stick around if I put as much time into the college basketball season as I did the college football season. But I've also come to realize that its okay for one sport to be different. And, guess what America, most of the evidence says that you do, too. You ever see a college basketball game get the ratings that a football game does?
With a playoff, I don't care about Cal-Tennessee. I don't care about any team other than Oregon. I watch the Duck game, then mow the lawn and clean out the garage. Because, while the playoff would be great, there would just be no reason to watch the other weeks.
The drama would be gone.
Saturdays in Autumn are an all day party. The Duck game may be the steak, but the potato and the salad and the bread make the dining experience all that much better. You won't watch half as much college football that you do now if there were a playoff.
Yes, I know that I have just joined the Empire. But I think that Saturdays are worth saving. I can't watch a baseball game not involving the Mariners. Nor NBA games not involving the Trail Blazers. But in college football, I must see it all.
Commissioners Hansen and Delany--thank you for saving my Saturdays.
[Ducking flying tomatoes aimed at head]