Joe Paterno has come out in favor of a college football playoff, calling the reasons why one does not exist “bogus.” He rejects the academics-based arguments against a playoff, like players missing class and that having a two semester sport is bad thing, by noting the length of the basketball season. That carries some weight coming from perhaps the only active major college football coach who has endowed a library at his university. He also says the champion “should be decided on the field.”
Knows what’s going on.
This is not really breaking news, considering that Paterno has apparently been in favor of a playoff for some time. It is relevant right now though, since this off season the playoff debate has raged on more so than in past years as more and more people speak out.
The BCS has been criticized since its inception for not providing a satisfying finish to the season. Then last year, we had UF President Bernie Machen’s short-lived playoff proposal that got shot down at conference meetings. This year, we’ve had university presidents, congressmen, and the SEC and ACC commissioners come out in favor of a playoff. FSU President T.K. Wetherell has gone so far as to call a playoff inevitable and has further debunked some anti-playoff arguments himself.
The Big Ten, Pac 10, and Rose Bowl are generally targeted as the villains who are obstructing progress towards a playoff, though Big 12 President Dan Beebe has been just as consistent in his opposition too.
Paterno reminding the world that he is in favor of a playoff is a crack in the unified façade that the Big Ten has tried to project. It’s not likely to change much though, since Paterno has held the belief for a long time without it making a difference, and Penn State is the newcomer to the conference anyway. Plus, Paterno will not be coaching the 10-15 years more that he joked he would.
Paterno’s belief also does something else: it proves that “old guys” aren’t all in favor of the bowl system. That idea is something that has been an unspoken undercurrent to many of the pro-playoff arguments I’ve seen: old guys clinging to old ways are blocking the flow of Progress*.
Paterno is older than every bowl except the Rose, and only 8 bowls that are currently still playing existed when he took over as head coach at Penn State: the Rose (first game in 1902), Orange (1935), Sugar (1935), Sun (1935), Cotton (1937), Gator (1947), Tangerine/Florida Citrus/Capital One (1947), and Liberty (1959). JoePa coaching in State College, PA is more of a tradition than the Peach Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, or any other bowl you can name are.
Paterno is also not in favor of the rule requiring coaches voting in the Coaches’ Poll to select the winner of the BCS championship game as #1. His frustration with that rule stems from 2004 when he wanted to vote for Auburn as national champion. I’ll let JoePa himself sum it all up:
“They said, ‘Well, you’ve got to vote or else you can’t participate.’ So I will not participate in the voting. Not that I’m against what other people want to do, it’s just that philosophically I think you ought to win it on the field. If I have to vote for somebody only because people have said these are the two teams that ought to be in the BCS championship game and I think they left somebody out that probably ought to be in it, that’s when I’ll feel a playoff ought to be appropriate. I’ve always been for a playoff.”
*Decidedly old guy Beano Cook is in favor of a plus one system, so it’s not just Paterno.