Friday, January 02, 2009


I like college football but don't follow it much, so I've been fairly agnostic about the longstanding debate over college football playoffs. I did think it was unfair of Obama to disclose that he favors a playoff only after he was elected; this is information I wanted before I cast my vote.

Because fundamentally I'm against playoffs. The season is too long anyway, and even football players should have to worry about their studies sometime. Besides, college football is too disparate -- lots of teams from lots of schools of vastly different athletic and academic aspirations -- for a playoff to mean much. That's the beauty of college football, and trying to make it more like pro football, where all the teams look the same except for team colors and where everything -- the draft, the schedule, the conferences -- is designed to produce a champion simply demeans the college sport.

Still, no big deal. But I do like to watch football on New Year's Day, and it was dispiriting to find only four games on the holiday schedule. Four games? That's not enough to get to the afternoon snack. And none of the games I cared about were played. Texas Tech (in matters football, I'm still a Texan) plays in the Cotton Bowl today, Texas doesn't play until Monday, and the ostensible championship game is still a week away -- all on working days.

So I settled down for just one game, Clemson vs. Nebraska (luckily, probably the best game of the day), then we watched "Them," a 1954 movie about giant radioactive ants. The wise scientist says at the end, Who knows what mankind may have unleashed when it unlocked the secrets of the Atomic Age?

Moviegoers first heard that line in the last year that Rice University won the Cotton Bowl, back when teams in the old Southwest Conference battled it out for one final game on Jan. 1. The season ended then, but the debate over who had the best team in the country went on until spring training. Those were better days.


6 Generations said...

I skipped the college football, but my daughter and I did watch "Them," after a couple of episodes of "Jeeves and Wooster" on DVD. And a rerun of a Frontline episode, "The War Briefing," reminded me of some of what mankind has unleashed in the Atomic Age: the possibility of nuclear weapons in the hands of the Taliban if Pakistan becomes a failed state--much more frightful than giant ants in the sewer system of Los Angeles. Now that's a happy thought for the New Year.

Todd said...

I also like the fact that the BCS has 32 bowl games, and thus 32 "winners." The FCS has but one winner.

Kirk Dooley said...

The system we have now encourages running up the score--thus we have Oklahoma (who got whupped by Texas) scoring 60 points in five straight games, just like they used to do when Barry Switzer was running the OK State Penitentiary/Norman in the 70s and 80s. (And remember that Nebraska had made running up the score an art form in the 70s and 80s as well--albeit without criminals.)

If you want to just have the bowls (which are nothing more than a bunch of chamber or commerce guys wearing bad sports jackets while fans have an excuse to go to cities where it's mucho warmer than home), then Utah should be the national champion. After all, the Utes, just like BYU in 1984, ran the table, going 13-0, and beating a well-known opponent (Alabama for the Utes, Michigan for BYU back when the Wolverines were actually a good football team).

Actually, the bowl system rewards mediocrity--a 6-6 team gets to play a post season game (some little school from South Bend, Indiana comes to mind). And we get noting but arguments about which team is best. Could Utah beat either Florida or Oklahoma or even Southern Cal? Probably not--but it would be fun to see them try. And remember, Oklahoma lost to Boise State two years ago, so anything is possible.