Monday, January 28, 2008

Playoffs? Who Needs 'em?

Saturday Sportscast

Playoffs? Who needs ‘em

Every year as the college bowls come to an end with the BCS National Championship game, the playoff cries crescendo. It is only heightened as the NFL playoffs get underway. I, for one, do not believe a playoff system is best for college football.

I also do not think they BCS system we have in place at present is best for football either. As bad as this sounds, too much emphasis is placed on wins. If true equity were achieved in college football, wins would matter, but when some conferences like the Big 12 and especially the SEC contain so many superior teams who spend a season beating each other up, a perfect season does not mean so much – especially when it comes from another conference.

LSU and Hawaii proved the point decisively this year. Despite two losses (both in triple overtime), LSU was in the National Championship game after winning the SEC conference title. There, they demolished an overhyped Ohio State team from the Big 10 conference. Ohio State experienced their second throttling in as many years from a SEC team in the championship game.

With the outcry at the exclusion of Hawaii, who had a perfect seaon, ringing louder than the cheering of their fans, they went into the Sugar Bowl to face Georgia, third in the SEC. Those outcries stopped in the first quarter and were forgotten by the time Georgia walked out with a 41 -10 win.

Clearly, the best record does not make for the best team.

If the best record really indicated the best team, the New York Giants would not be in the Superbowl where they face the undefeated New England Patriots. If the best winning record were the indicator, either the Dallas Cowboys or the Green Bay Packers would be there to challenge the Patriots. As it is, the Giants defeated both the Cowboys and the Packers to reach the Superbowl. Along the way the Bucs, Steelers, and Colts lost in games when they were the “better” team.

Although professional sports leagues actively strive for equity; each season lately has proven how much like the college conferences the different professional division are.

There is an old saying that “on any given Sunday (Saturday)” any team can win. With the division of talent as it currently stands, that statement cannot honestly be said.

Next season when the cries for a college playoff begins, keep in mind that a few conferences are going to internally damage one another so much that the win-loss record is going to disqualify some teams that are quite likely stronger than teams the BCS (or a playoff system) may pick. However due to the same inter-conference inequities, the best teams may or may not make it through the playoffs.

And most importantly, we must keep in mind that college sports are played by student athletes. They are not professional. First and foremost, they are students. A playoff scheme only increases the time they are missing class. Tutors and academic assistance are no equal for the time spent learning and having a student life. Is it any wonder these athletes are so quick to bolt from college at professional prospects? They have not connection to the college outside the locker room.

I’ll leave it to those who are smarter than me to come up with a better system for college sports. For now, I’ll just sit back in my recliner, with my laptop, and watch the games on my 50” HDTV.

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