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.