Saturday, December 8, 2012

3 comments Drew Sharp Just Wants to Watch the World Burn

The BCS is moving towards a four team playoff in 2014. I am in favor of a four team playoff, though I probably would prefer an eight team playoff more, but baby steps is all I can ask for at this point. I could survive if there was not a college football playoff at all, though I think that four team playoff setup is going to result in more a exciting college football bowl season. Drew Sharp is not a fan of the BCS four game playoff. It's not that he doesn't like the playoff, it is just that he likes to see chaos and mayhem. Some people just like to watch the world burn and it appears Drew Sharp is one of these people. He likes uncertainty and imperfection, especially in situations where perfection or certainty can be attained.

Drew wrote this column before Oregon, Alabama, and Kansas State lost and we knew the national title game would be Notre Dame v. Alabama, which makes his opinion on a bowl system even less persuasive in my mind. There is a one loss team in the BCS Championship Game and why can't Oregon, Florida or Kansas State have a chance to prove they can compete with Notre Dame or Alabama head-to-head? 

Chaos gets a bad rap, especially in college football.

Probably because sports fans tend to prefer champions of a certain sport to be decided on the field in a set format that allows everyone to know who is the ultimate winner of that sports' season. Many sports fans like to know the winners and losers of a certain sport and knowing exactly who won and lost is appealing in order to determine who the best and worst teams are. Many sports fans like certainty, and while uncertainty is good for debate, I think a four game playoff will make college football bowl season more exciting by making it more certain.

Not to mention, a college football playoff isn't like the one game Wild Card playoff in MLB. This isn't a contrived setup in order to create more drama in the sport. There is a reason the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament is so exciting and looked forward to. That reason is college sports tend to work well within a playoff format. I have a feeling the four team playoff or (in my dreams) an eight game playoff would be as well-received, if not more well-received, then the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament...perhaps not immediately, but over a five year span.

Turmoil isn't toxic in this sport. If anything, it's a rejuvenating elixir.

Not really, unless you are one of those people who enjoys the stories and drama surrounding a game more than you enjoy the actual game or sporting event yourself (cough, cough Bill Simmons). Turmoil in itself isn't toxic in sports, but when determining the "winner" of a certain sport then turmoil can often be anything other than a rejuvenating elixir. In the case of college football, turmoil doesn't ruin the sport, but I think it takes a little bit away from the National Championship Game. There is always the idea or perception another team should have been given a shot to participate in the title game. No, the controversies over who should be in the National Championship game doesn't ruin college football, but if given the chance to see which team is the best in a playoff format then I see why it is an attractive option to do so.

It's a sport in which conviction becomes as important as competition. The argument is often more fun than the final score.

And there will still be arguments. If there was a 32 team playoff there would be arguments over which teams deserved to be in that playoff. The NCAA Tournament has 68 teams and the talking heads still discuss "snubs" and teams that don't deserve to be in the tournament. There were always be conviction and argument over the participants in the college football playoff. The only difference is the argument won't potentially (hopefully) be about an unbeaten team who gets no chance to prove they belong in the National Championship Game. The arguments now will be about which teams are #3 or #4 in the nation, as opposed to which teams are #1 or #2 in the nation.

And we've got a doozy of a quarrel coming in another three weeks -- potentially four unbeaten teams squeezing into two spots for the BCS championship game.

Actually there were five unbeaten teams when he wrote this (Louisville, Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame), but since Drew Sharp loves uncertainty and chaos I am guessing he isn't considered with such trivial matters as "research" or "accuracy" when writing his columns.

Four unbeaten teams would be fine and chaotic. I would prefer with there being four (actually five) unbeaten teams we have a determination which of these teams is the best team that doesn't involve a computer or "Six Degrees of Team A" where we say "Team A lost to Team B, but beat Team C, who lost to Team B, but beat Team E in a blowout," to determine if Team A deserves a shot in the National Championship game. Under the four team BCS playoff all of these teams would be in (as long as they stayed unbeaten) and there wouldn't be a debate over which team got "screwed..." except there would be still be a debate. I guarantee if Louisville stayed unbeaten and Georgia only lost one game then there would be those arguing with conviction that Georgia deserves that BCS playoff spot. In fact, if Georgia had beaten another one loss team they would have probably ended up in the BCS title game against Notre Dame. Why can't Oregon or Florida get a shot since they only have one loss? The argument will never end.

A competition between the one loss teams would be a nice thing in my mind, as opposed to relying on BCS rankings to tell us Alabama will end up playing Notre Dame. I think a four team playoff of Alabama-Florida and Notre Dame-Oregon would have been fun to watch. 

I'm rooting for chaos, but not for the reasons you might think.

Well I think it is mostly because you either (a) are a contrarian or (b) you simply don't like change in sports.

I'm not a playoff guy, never have been. I'm not for the same reason that I'm not an advocate for limitless, all-intrusive instant replay in all sports.

That's pretty much the reason I thought. You hate change in sports. All change in sports is bad change, and even though the BCS was a change to the old bowl format, that doesn't matter at all because the new change to the old change is your enemy. I would think an old school guy like Drew Sharp would want the best team decided on the field, not by a computer.

I find it interesting Drew Sharp throws instant replay into his discussion here. There is a big difference to me in a college football playoff and instant replay. Instant replay, at least to me, is about the integrity of the game and ensuring the human factor does not affect the outcome of a sporting event. Instant replay, at least to me, is about making sure sporting events are officiated in the most fair way possible to determine the winner of the matchup. The college football playoff is meant to ensure the best team in college football is decided on the field...or at least with teams worthy of a shot in the National Championship game having a chance to prove their worthiness. 

There's something charming, dramatic and, yes, often enraging about imperfection.

In sports, I would guess that most people like definitive answers. Some people don't find it exciting to watch an entire season's worth of college football only to not know for sure which team is the best team in the country. There is nothing wrong with imperfection, but if college football can enliven the fan experience while also giving more definitive answers as to which team is the best team in college football, I think it is worth exploring.

Why mess with that?

Why must everything fit nicely?

Why must everything not fit nicely? Why must there be chaos?

I'm hoping that Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame complete the regular season with unblemished records, each with a compelling argument for a berth in the national championship game. But two won't make it. 

Or three won't make it. Or we could have it like last year where LSU was undefeated and Oklahoma State and Alabama had one loss, so Alabama naturally got a shot at the national title since they had lost previously to LSU. They had proven they couldn't beat LSU on their home field in November, but they got another shot at LSU because Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State, which apparently was an inexcusable loss.

Chaos is not great. Why shouldn't one loss Oregon, Florida or Kansas State get a shot to prove they can beat one loss Alabama and end up in the BCS Championship Game?  Oregon loses to Top 10 BCS team and they aren't in the BCS Championship Game anymore, but Alabama loses to a comparatively worse BCS team and they move up into the BCS Championship Game because Oregon lost. Why not decide which of these two teams is superior on the field, as opposed to seeing what happened on the field and then speculate in the rankings on which team may be better?

And those two relegated to the outside will complain about the unfairness of their fate.

What if we lived in a world where these two teams with no losses weren't complaining about their fate, so there is a larger pool of "deserving teams," but some of the 1 or 2 loss teams left out of a 4 or 8 game playoff were complaining about the unfairness of their fate? Is that not preferable because there isn't enough chaos?

If it's Notre Dame, the Irish will argue that they shouldn't suffer a penalty because of the overall poor quality of the Big Ten this season. 

Wow. This tells you all you need to know about Drew Sharp and his knowledge on the subject he is discussing. Notre Dame is an independent in football. They are not a Big 10 team in football. Again, I'm sure Drew Sharp is perfectly fine attempting to form an opinion on a subject he doesn't have a complete grasp on because that shows he is imperfect. Journalism is all about not doing research and making mistakes with your information, isn't it? Imperfection and chaos in sports journalism is good.

If it's Kansas State, the Wildcats will gripe they were wrongly victimized for not having an easily identifiable football brand.

Or they would complain they beat every team they played this year, but one team (just like Oregon/LSU/Alabama/Georgia) and still didn't get a shot to prove they were the best team in college football? This is an understandable gripe in my opinion. 

If it's Oregon, the Ducks will tout conspiracy theories from fashion consultants who think their hideous uniform ensembles should be convicted of third-degree eye-slaughter.

Cue sad trombone. 

But incessant whining is a big part of this sport's immense national popularity.

No, it really is not. A big part of this sport's immense popularity has to do with football being a very popular sport, tailgating is fun, and fans can cheer for their alma mater against other schools. College football is popular despite the incessant whining about which team gets snubbed and the popularity is most likely about the fact football is very, very popular.

The four-team playoff might seem like the perfect solution this season, but pushing college football closer to the NFL in how it crowns its champion will only hurt the sport long-term.

Be prepared now for a shaky bit of reasoning on the part of Drew Sharp. He will now tell us how making college football like the NFL will only hurt the sport in the long-term. I hate to break it to Drew, but the NFL doesn't have an straight playoff system, so it is still different from college football. The NFL divides its teams into NFC and AFC playoffs, which is different from picking the 12 best teams in the NFL and having a playoff, which is what college football is prepared to do with the four team playoff.

It'll spawn even more aggressive cheating among those teams that already don't care about the NCAA rulebook.

Two things:

1. Traditionally, when making a statement like this a writer would explain exactly what the hell he means by this statement. Drew Sharp hates tradition. He never explains what he means by this. I can't imagine what a four team playoff would do to spawn more aggressive cheating. In fact, shouldn't there be more aggressive cheating under the current bowl system since only two teams can make the National Championship Game? If there are only two spots in the title game and the purpose of this aggressive cheating is to ensure a team gets to participate in the title game, wouldn't there be more aggressive cheating when fewer spots are available?


This is chaos at its finest. Who is cheating, who isn't? Which teams are playing fair and which teams are breaking the NCAA rules? It's imperfection and chaos at it's finest.

It'll create an even wider gulf between the few national programs that consistently dominate and those lesser lights hopeful for that rare, special season when the spotlight hits them at the right angle.

Again, I don't see how this would be true. If anything a more open playoff system would allow teams like TCU, Boise State, and any other team with one loss or no losses to participate. If Drew Sharp believes the BCS conferences will collude to keep these type of mid-major conference teams out of the four team BCS playoff, then rest assured they are keeping them out of the BCS Championship Game under the current system as well.

Some think pollsters will give a 12-0 Notre Dame an edge over an unbeaten Oregon or Kansas State, if only for the sake of nostalgia and the possibility of an Alabama-Notre Dame championship game

And of course this system is preferable to a four team playoff because if the National Championship matchup can't be decided solely by nostalgia and the possibility of two high profile teams being in the game, then this is not a championship game that even needs to be played.

I would argue this sentence is the very reason a four team playoff is necessary. The four team playoff prevents two teams being put in the National Championship game based not on their resume during the season, but based on factors that have very little to do with each team's 2012 season performance.

They would be livid in Eugene, Ore., and Manhattan, Kan.

And that's your imperfect system at work. Sorry Kansas State and Oregon, you don't make us feel nostalgic nor is the profile of your program enough of a draw. Great season, too bad your participation in the BCS Championship game couldn't be decided based on that season's performance. Thanks and goodnight. 

For some, disarray only strengthens the case for what's coming in 2014. No muss. No fuss. No fun. Everything would fit perfectly.

It's not about fitting perfectly, but is about many fans wanting to know which team is the best team in college football. It is about trying to improve the product and getting a definitive outcome on the college football season.

But college football, at its best, always was meant for imperfection.

College football will still be imperfect. There will be arguments over which team(s) are the 3rd or 4th best teams in the country. In a situation like this year where there are quite a few one loss teams, in a four team playoff, someone is getting left behind. Imperfection isn't going away, but simply moving from "Why didn't Team C get a chance to be in the national title game" to "We know Teams A, B, C got in the four game playoff, but why didn't Team E make it?" There is still imperfection, just with slightly less uncertainty at the top. 


Eric C said...

Maybe he was discounting Ohio State because of the sanctions or something.

But overall, just another case of someone who hates change. The interwebs say he was born in 1950, so another GenX guy. If this was another time in history he'd be saying "Electricity? These candles work fine" or "Sewers? And give up my chamber pot?" or maybe even "Fire? I like my meat raw and the winter chill is invigorating" (the last one said in whatever language a caveman might have used).

JimA said...

He'd be a baby boomer, not GenX.

Bengoodfella said...

Eric, that's probably true. I don't know if I would love the new 4-team playoff, but I think it has to be better than the current system. I can't complain too much about ND-Alabama, but I also can't help but wonder how exciting a ND-K State or Oregon-Alabama would be. It makes sense to me to go to a four team playoff...even if it means less chaos.