Playoff opponents use many arguments against a playoff. One is that a playoff is of no use because naming a champion is too dicey a proposition. Another is that it breaks with the tradition of the game. A third is that if college football really needed a playoff, wouldn’t it have collapsed by now?
Well, I’m not going to argue the playoff part. With 120 teams each playing 12 games against wildly different schedule strengths, it’s a stretch from a theoretical and mathematical standpoint to say you can pick a “true” champion with a couple more games at the end.
As to the other two points, they miss why college football is popular. It’s popular because people like football. Colleges play every other sport you can name, but none are as popular as football is because people like football.
The traditions, the rivalries, and everything else enhance the game on the field, but in the end, it’s the game on the field that matters. Case in point: the annual Florida/Florida State game used to be appointment TV for everyone nationally. ESPN College GameDay visited the game 5 times in 6 years from 1995 – 2000.
Thanks in part to Ron Zook but mostly to FSU’s decline, GameDay has visited the game just once since. At this point, even Gators are much more fired up about Georgia, a team they didn’t care so much about in the 1990s.
If you need another example, consider that the team with the most history and pageantry, Notre Dame, pulled just a 1.8 average rating on NBC this season.
It should go without saying that football is at its best when you have good teams playing good teams. College football’s popularity wasn’t built on the back of Iowa State versus Kansas.
It also goes without saying that great out of conference games don’t happen as often as we’d want them to during the regular season. Big money programs need home games to fund their empires and the current system doesn’t adequately reward the risk of playing more than one non-conference team with a pulse.
The post season does provide that reward. The games between good teams generate enough money to make it worthwhile to the power schools to play in them. There’s also more prestige on the line, which gives a bigger reward for the risk of playing them. Fans also win because they get to see more good football.
This is where the BCS comes in. Under the BCS, the best teams in college football can play a maximum of one post season game. A post season tournament may not solve many championship disputes, but it would provide more games with great matchups.
That’s what makes college football great – good teams playing good teams. The BCS prevents that from happening as often as it could, so that’s another reason why the BCS is bad for college football.