College Football Research

Home

A Few Thoughts

by Big Al

I wrote this article shortly after Christmas. Then I forgot to post it. Sloppy on my part. But not unexpected: it was a busy time that became too busy for me.

With bowl season in full swing, and a couple of days left before another underwhelming New Year's Day slate of games, it seems like a good time to talk about a few things that need addressing.

The College Football Playoff Committee

The College Football Playoff Committee is doing it's absolute best to ensure that they are replaced by a larger playoff pool. Because they find ways to ensure that they make the worst decisions possible.

Okay, fine, Ohio State isn't a slam-dunk selection for the top 4. But they at least won all of their games, and they are plenty talented. Everybody knows they have top-level talent, but there is some question about whether they deserve to be there. I'll grant that.

But Notre Dame got embarrassed by Clemson when they were full strength: they are not championship material. Who is? How about an undefeated Cincinnati team that didn't get annihilated by Alabama or Clemson? But where is Cincinnati? Buried at #8 behind a Texas A&M team that got their jock straps handed to them by Alabama, a two-loss Oklahoma, and a three-loss Florida.

Fine, Cincinnati may not be the best team in the country. But there is not evidence that they aren't, either. There is sufficient evidence that Notre Dame is not. There is more than enough evidence that Texas A&M is not. There are great, steaming piles of evidence that Oklahoma and Florida have no business being considered the best in the country.

And that's the thing: the point of the playoffs is to find the best team in the country. If there is sufficient evidence that a team is not that, then they should not be in the playoffs. If there is no evidence whether or not a team is not the best, then they should be in the playoffs.

I'm not saying that Notre Dame is not better than Cincinnati. They likely are. But Cincinnati should at least be in the mix. The playoff committee is going out of their way to insult the lower-tier teams. The AAC commissioner is right: they don't have a chance, and never will. In fact, if they had expanded the playoffs, the committee would have ranked Cincinnati at #12, just to prove the point.

Which brings me to my next point...

Playoff Expansion

Let's be honest here: the worst thing that happens to football players is football games. The more games they play, the more broken-down they get. The more games players play, the less able to play they are. Especially in top-level games between top-level teams. If you need to know what that's like, ask any NFL player after an average game: they have trouble dragging themselves out of bed the next day. Football destroys bodies: particularly NFL-level football between NFL-level players. You know, like the type that play championship-level football.

The more games these players play, the less NFL-ready they will be. Because you can't take that sort of beating week after week and expect to recover. If there are three straight weeks of games, then the best players are going to be that much less ready come time for the combine, to say nothing of their NFL careers. And if they best players are playing in the playoffs year after year (like Alabama or Clemson does), then those players are going to be worn down before they even get to the NFL. Then, when the top players start seeing top draft picks go down due to injury in the playoffs, they are going to opt out.

Players are already opting out of the bowls. It's only a matter of time before they start opting out of the playoffs. And the more playoff games there are, the easier it will be for those players to make that decision. They have careers to think of, and expanding the playoffs will only make those careers shorter and less likely.

Sadly, it's only a matter of time until it happens. Sooner rather than later. The four-team playoff opened a hole in the dike. It will burst before long. It may rest when there are 32 teams in the playoffs. That is the minimum number at which people may be somewhat quieted.

New Year's Day Bowl Games

Once upon a time, New Year's Day was a day of absolute, college football heaven. An endless stream of bowl games, starting at noon and ending around midnight. The Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl were the capstones to a blissful day of endless games competing for attention. There were at least two games at any time, and often three. If a game was bad, you could watch another that was more competitive.

Now, there are only a few games, and nobody competes against the playoff games. If a game is bad, tough shinola. Meanwhile, a nation full of people working off a night of revelry, tired and hungover, just want to watch some football. College football could be the thing that people watch. Perhaps some could even fall in love with the sport the same way I fell in love with it: on New Year's Day.

As a child, we went at our grandparents' house in Florida around Christmas. And we stayed until after New Year's. So we started the day with the Rose Parade, and the whole family watched the games together. During the Rose Bowl, they wheeled the TV into the dining room: that was the only day and only reason when anyone was allowed to watch television during dinner. Then I'd fall asleep on a fold-out sofa bed as the Orange Bowl as the second half of the Orange Bowl brought what was often a national championship to some team or another. I would that others could enjoy that same experience and love the sport that I love.

Perhaps it's just a middle-aged man doddering about his fond memories of youth. But I think there's almost more to it than that. I think college football would be much enriched by a national holiday unofficially dedicated to the enjoyment of it.

Columns

College Football Playoff Final Prediction

I'm an Ohio State fan, and I will be rooting for Ohio State. But they aren't the side to bet on.

A Few Thoughts

A few thoughts on college football that were far more timely when I wrote this article that aren't quite as timely now that I am releasing it.

Bowl Preview

After some time away, I'm back for the bowls! Here's what's going to happen, so you don't need to actual watch the games.

Week 16 Preview

It's championship weekend! There is one great game, and a bunch of other games that may or may not be close.

Week 15 Recap

There was an upset! Like an actual upset that nobody can explain! That's what you expect from college football.

Week 15 Preview

Rivarly week part, oh, 2 or 3 or so. With the usual bunch of cancellations.