It's that time of year again! No, I'm not talking about the holiday season or the rapidly approaching end to the NFL regular season I am talking about the annual dead period of no college football (unless you count the Army/Navy game) until 'Bowl season' begins. Starting December 15th there will be 35 Bowl games between 70 teams all being played across the country for the right to be called....what exactly? If the title didn't give it away then let me reiterate that not only do I don't much care for college football, I hate it. There is so much wrong with college football that it has made me hate a sport I love. Don't get me wrong I love the NFL and can't get enough of it but college football is so maddening with its lack of common sense and logic that I can't sit through a game without wanting to strangle every member of the NCAA Board of Directors like my name was Latrell Spreewell. Now before any one starts saying I should not complain about college football if I don't like it or that I am missing the point then let me just say that I want to like college football. I really do but there are things in the game that need to change before I can truly start to enjoy the sport. Until that happens I will hate college football and here are the reasons why.
The National Championship Is Played Over a Month after the Last Regular Season Game
Alabama's last game was on December 1st and Notre Dame's last game was on November 24th. They will play for the National Championship on January 7th which means Alabama will have a 36 day layoff while Notre Dame will have an insane 43 days off before they play again. In what other sport would this fly with fans? You cannot tell me that have over a month off between games makes any sense whatsoever or increases the competitiveness of the game in anyway. Having 43 days off is basically an off-season and kills any momentum a team had during the season. Both Alabama and Notre Dame had exceptional seasons but now you are asking both teams to sit around for over a month without any games and expect them to have the same edge they had during the season? If the NFL held its Conference Championship games and then said "see you in a month for the Super Bowl", there would be riots outside the NFL offices in New York and the players would voice their displeasure.
Having such a long time off does nothing for competitive balance, if anything it takes away from it. Players are sore and hurt but if you ask them would they rather sit around for a month to play for a championship or play for one the next week they will tell you they will be ready this week. Most players want to rest and heal up after the season is over and not have to suit up a month later. It is a false off-season and something that makes zero sense to me. I would love to hear the reasons about how over a month off is a good thing for any game but I have yet to hear one.
The Rest of the Bowl Games Are Meaningless
So your team didn't make the National Championship? Well how about playing in a Bowl game? Sure you win a trophy but you are NOT the National Champion. The Bowl games are basically a grown man's tee-ball ceremony. Everyone gets a trophy. The remaining 68 teams who didn't make it to the National Championship get to duke it out in the other 34 Bowl games in what is basically a hyped up, glorified and over sponsored exhibition game between teams that had good to mediocre seasons but not good enough to play in the big game. There is a huge difference in talent between the Oregon Ducks and the Central Michigan Chippewas but they will both not be playing for the National Championship and instead settling for the right to say they won one more game in their season and got to hold up one of 34 other trophies that merely states they won a game somewhere around the country. Cool. Why should I care though? Watching a team win the Fiesta Bowl elicits the same reaction from me as the team that wins the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl because it means nothing. At best your team is supposedly the third best in the country but who the hell even knows or cares what the second most important Bowl game is?
Allowing 70 teams out of 124, almost 60% of Division 1-A teams into a Bowl game is over saturation and completely unnecessary. Of the 70 Bowl teams 14 have 7-5 records and 13 have records of 6-6 or worse. That makes 38% of the teams featured in Bowl games with mediocre records. Sure, it fills TV airtime but unless you are a fan of either team or have a gambling problem I highly doubt you have any interest in watching the epic battle of the 6-6 Rice Owls and the 6-6 Air Force Falcons. Talk about must watch TV! Point being that with so many teams and so many mediocre records playing in Bowl games your team must have really sucked to not make it.
An obvious resolution to all this confusion is a playoff system and after years and years and years of waffling the NCAA Presidents finally agreed on a bastardized version of a playoff system with four teams (that's it?) hand selected by a selection committee starting in 2014. While common sense says those "hand selected" four teams should be the top four teams in the country we know that common sense goes out the window when the NCAA is involved. The playoffs will still take place over a month after the regular season has concluded so it isn't a complete fix but time will tell if the NCAA finally got it right after finally listening to the fans.
The Bowl games are around for one reason and one reason only. Money. Always has been and always will be. The amount of Bowl games and surplus of Bowl teams is due to the fact that sponsors can't wait to throw their money at the NCAA just to have their name plastered on ESPN for a few hours on New Year's Day. The NCAA is more money driven than the New York Yankees and for an organization that preaches for all athletes, coaches and schools to not accept any money or items in any form from anyone it has no problem raking in millions upon millions every season to bank off of those same athletes, coaches and schools. So why did it take so long for a playoff system to finally get instated into college football? Look no further than the almighty dollar for your answer. The price for sponsors for the playoff games is sure to skyrocket and it will be the NCAA who once again benefits even in their own ignorance.
One Loss in September Means Season Over
Who doesn't love the NFL? As soon as the Super Bowl ends fans are foaming at the mouth for the following season to start just so they can watch their favorite team every Sunday for four months and unless your team made a deep playoff run, your rooting interest ends at the end of December. Now imagine that after enduring a long off-season, free agency, the NFL Draft, mini-camp, training camp and preseason for eight months out of the year the first game of the season is here. Your team loses and any chance of playing in the Super Bowl is more than likely over. That absolutely sucks. Unfortunately, that is how college football determines who does and doesn't play for the national title. Every game is so important and even one minor slip up at the beginning of the season means you might as well fold up shop and wait for next season.
Sometimes running the table to a perfect season doesn't even guarantee a trip to the National Championship game if there are more than two teams with perfect records. So how do you break a tie? The obvious answer is letting a computer decide, duh! I don't even want to get into my hatred for the BCS computer system but why a computer plays a factor in rankings at all without the ability to watch the games from an opinionated viewpoint drives me insane. When the BCS gets it right it usually because two teams were undefeated and it made the decision easy. Again, one loss basically ending your season is flawed logic and ends a team's national championship hopes in the blink of an eye.
Conferences Don't Make Any Damn Sense Anymore
The Big Ten has twelve, and soon to be, fourteen teams in it. The Big 12 has ten. Huh?!? Try explaining that to someone who has never heard of college football before and they will assume you have the math skills of a newborn. Conferences no longer matter in college football and that is a fact. With teams hopping from one conference to another on such a regular basis it is difficult to keep track of who is where and when they are moving on. Conferences being broken up into what part of the country they play in also makes little to no sense anymore. Maryland and Rutgers are going to be playing in the Big Ten with Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State, Indiana, Wisconsin, etc.; the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) has a team from Louisiana, while San Diego State will be playing in the Big East. Every geography teacher's head probably exploded just from reading all of that but it is all fact and all nonsense. The NCAA has no say in who goes where but they sure should just to keep everyone's heads from spinning.
The unfortunate nature of all these conference realignments is that it will make travel for parents and relatives of the players even that much more costly or not possible. Imagine being a parent of a player on Rutgers and then hearing that if you want to see your son play you have to travel to Michigan or Iowa City on a regular basis. Talk about cost effective. You may say "well they don't need to go to every game", but try telling that to parents of athletes. When I played soccer in high school there was not a game that my parents missed no matter what their work schedule or time of the game. With the economy still climbing itself out of the pooper it is financially unreasonable for the majority of parents with college students to be able to travel around the country on a weekly basis to watch their child play.
The Lack of a Playoff System Hurts the National Champion
Even though four teams will be nothing to write home about when the official playoff system gets put in place it is still a step in the right direction. One of my biggest pet peeves with college football is that fans from other topped ranked teams who didn't make the national title game criticize the winner saying they faced inferior competition or didn't play the toughest teams in the country. With the playoff system this should (hopefully) eliminate those frustrations by pitting the top teams against each other. Now we may get the chance to see match-ups we hardly get to see like Oregon vs. Alabama or Notre Dame against LSU. By seeing match-ups we normally wouldn't see it sets up for an infinite amount of "dream" match-ups as well as helps to eliminate the people who try to punch holes in a team's championship win. Instead of being based on record we could see a college football version of the 2008 Arizona Cardinals or 2011 New York Giants where teams that are considered underdogs can make it to the national championship game.
For the people who complain about an SEC team being in the national championship on an annual basis the playoff system probably sounds like a prayer answered because even the hottest teams can fail to show up in any given day. The fact that the playoff system means multiple important college football games in January makes me a fan already. 2014 can't get here soon enough and it will be interesting to see how the committee makes their selections of which teams compete for the national title.
So where do you stand on college football? Are you a diehard fan who watches every Saturday? Do you like the way the national championship works or are you looking forward to the playoff format? Are you like me where the lack of importance of Bowl games, losses in September ruining a season, money lust and the month long break between the season and Bowl games drive you away from the sport? Sound off below and call me crazy or an idiot but you have to admit that there are a lot of things that occur in college football that simply wouldn't fly in any other sport and leaves a lot of people scratching their heads.
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Tags: Air Force Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, BCS, Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, Big 12, Big Ten, Bowl games, Central Michigan Chippewas, College Football, Fiesta Bowl, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, National Championship, NCAA, New York Yankees, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oregon Ducks, Rice Owls, Rutgers, San Diego State, WAC, Wisconsin