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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The NFL: Great...for One Out of 19 Weekends

Below is a rebuttal to Benny's pro-NFL playoffs post above.

Quick, anybody outside the Windy City name the Chicago Bears "fight song."

That's what I thought.

See, I didn't even know they had a fight song until Benny made the claim in his post above. And yeah, the Chicago's 39-14 victory over New Orleans was close...except for the first half until the last 46 seconds. Close...except for the 4th quarter. Close...except for 75% of the game.

Pinch me. I'm riveted.

Yet, my esteemed cohort, Benny, uses this NFL playoff game as an "example" to make his case that the pro game is better than the "minor leagues" of college football. As many of his pro-style playoff advocating ilk do this time of year when the NFL crowns its champion.

Granted, the Indy-New England game was a classic. One of the best pro games I've ever seen. But one great game does not make a great league. Nor does it make a strong case for a 16 team or 8 team playoff. Because the fact is, for most of the season, the NFL is about as exciting as an old Pauly Shore movie.

That's because, the regular season doesn't matter one tenth as much as the regular season does in college football. That's why the Colts can go into a late season slump, losing four of their last seven games, yet still have a shot to win it all. That's why three 9-7 teams and one 8-8 team made the playoffs (and you thought the Motor City Bowl had low standards and let some shit teams slide through?). Most importantly, that's why the Super Bowl doesn't crown the best football team for a given season but rather the hot football team at its end.

The college football game has many flaws in the way it chooses its champ. That's a given. But a pro-style 8 or 16 team playoff isn't the answer, even though such a system would have greatly been to Michigan's benefit this past season. Because it would take away what makes college football so great - the only major sport where every game matters if you want to win the title.

The big "Game of the (INSERT HYPERBOLE HERE)" between Michigan and Ohio State last November would have simply been about seeding. Ho hum. Would the loss that day have been that bitter? Not really.

And USC's loss to their arch rival UCLA, instead of knocking them out of the title game, would have simply dropped them to a #6 or #7 seed instead. Big deal.

So, yes, those were exciting pro games Sunday. But just remember all the meaningless dreck you have to wade through to get there. And remember that next September when you're glued to your TV from college football's first regular season game in September to its last in December while the NFL excitement hasn't even started yet.

P.S. Chicago Bears fight song? Yeah, wake up the echoes.


Play Tusk! said...

Chicago's Fight Song?
Oh wait...I'm a Bears' fan....

Ungar Kelt said...

The Conference championship games are a joke any way. Just pick the top team from the AFC & NFC, and let them play in the Super Bowl.

You can still have other games from the top teams, ie, you could have had great matchups like New England vs. New Orleans, Philadelphia vs. NY Jets, etc., on neutral fields.

Obviously the 2 best teams were San Diego and Chicago. How fucked up is it that Indianapolis and New England, 2 teams that clearly didn't have the best record in the AFC, were able to play for the right to go to the Super Bowl? If Indianapolis wins, I will not vote them SB Champs, and vote San Diego as SB champs - nevermind that they lost to the Colts, the point is, this playoff shit sucks, and the Chargers were unneccessarily subjected to a flawed system for determining the champ.

We could have our 1st shared Super Bowl Champ this year (although if I had my way, the Steelers would have never, ever had a chance at the SB last year- how can you justify letting a wild card team advance through the playoffs and win the SB? It tarnishes the NFL)

tiggerjohn said...

This post hits it right on the bulls-eye.

Although we'll all admit that a voting system is flawed, College Football is the ONLY SPORT IN AMERICA where every - single - game - counts!!

If you're playing FIU, you'd sure as hell better rack up 50+ points. If you somehow "accidentally" lose to Idaho, you can kiss a BCS game goodbye. If you lose in OT to Alabama, you'll be watchin' every 1-loss or undefeated team's games just praying for a meltdown.

It's truely a thing of beauty; August and September are as important as November. I imagine that our College Football season is to us, what the World Cup is for the other 5.75 billion people.

TitleIX said...

good analogy re: CFB and World Cup Soccer.
Maybe that's where the tOSU crowd learns it's 'manners'

Scott Boswell said...

You can't have it both ways Yost...

Either you have a voting system like we do and accept the bowls or you have a playoff with the conference champs (and possibly wildcards) like the NFL. If you take the first, the conference champs are moot. If you take the second, the voting system is meaningless.

Wouldn't it be more fun to have ooc games mean nothing? If all you had to do to win your conference was beat you in-conference opponents, wouldn't that promote better matchups? Instead of scheduling games to pad your schedule, you could have Texas/Michigan, Florida/tOSU, etc. to really reward the fans. I'd much rather subscribe to an actual challenge and rely on my team to win the conference for a playoff seed than play Michigan Culinary Institute to avoid a loss and keep their championship hopes alive.

Out of Conference said...

I think 2-3 weeks should be open for all college teams each year, those opponents would be determined by conference rankings up to that point. Like say B10#1 vs SEC#1, PAC-10#1 v. BE#1, Pac#2 vs. SEC#2, BE#2-B10#2, BE#3 v. mid-major#1, etc. A lottery could pick the conferences and the conference standings would pick the opponents. That way, you get meaningful OOC games. You still need a cupcake, because while we call them cupcakes, the cupcake team itself sometimes calls it the biggest game of the year and everyone on campus is abuzz with excitment. You hate to deny traveling fans for a small school the chance to watch their team in a big stadium against a power. No playoff would be needed, because the question of strength of conference has at least been mroe addressed than it is now.
I'm not the first with this idea on here. I think I saw BiB or someone like that mention this back in Nov.

Chris of Dangerous Logic said...

Yost, I think you're torching a bit of a straw man here. Nobody is suggesting a NFL-style playoff that would include (roughly) the top third of D-IA. Most of the potential schemes I've heard about would include 4, 6, or 8 teams; certainly, no more than 12.

Scott said...

I disagree that every college game counts. If your team is so foolish to schedule a powerhouse from another conference early in the season and loses, there pretty much goes your chance for a National Title. Instead, the current system of treating your paying fans to patsies to insure you don't have a loss outside of the conference is our exciting every game counts schedule.

I like the idea of total revison of Division 1 football. Eight super conferences of 15 teams each. Regionally based. Two divisions in each conference. Each conference's champion plays 7 division games & 2 non-division games within the conference. Three outside games that don't count in conference standing. That's where you could get some great games for the fans.

The eight conference champions are in the playoff.

Erik said...

The smaller you make the playoff field, the more importance is placed on the regular season.

If we had an eight team playoff last season, don't you think Auburn's late season loss to Georgia would have been more important (seeing that it kept them out of the BCS)

Or...how about West Virginia, Rutgers and TCU...These teams still have to perform almost flawlessly in the regualr season to make the 8 team playoff. That equals important.

IC said...

I love both college and pro football, though if I had to choose one, it would be college. But this does not mean I will defend the ridiculously flawed system the college game has for determining a champion.

It is a big and false leap to conclude that "every game matters" in the college regular season. If it did, I'd be wearing my "Boise State National Champions" tee shirt right now (well I wouldn't, but lots of folks in Idaho would be.) After all, Boise St. won every game. Florida didn't. I guess the Gators loss to Auburn didn't count for much.

Also, the Super Bowl champion isn't simply a "hot team...at (season's) end" but rather one of the league's best, that then proceeds to win three or four consecutive games ON THE FIELD (rather than in Mark May's mind) versus other elite teams to become champion.

Again, taking everything into consideration, I think college football is more enjoyable and exciting than pro football. It's just too bad that the way college football determines its champion has more in common with gymnastics and figure skating than it does with any other sport going all the way down to tee-ball and AYSO soccer.

Yost said...


But if those OOC games meant nothing, then would anybody care if, say, Michigan played Texas? The reason UT/OSU was so important and such an anticipated game is b/c it did mean everything: one team was a front runner for the MNC and the other was severly damaged.


I hear ya, re: the numbers involved. That's why I've always been a big advocate of the +1 - but an unseeded Plus 1, meaning go back to the old bowl system and then pick your BCS game AFTER the Jan. 1st bowl.

That way, the big 4 January 1st games are, first of all, played on Jan. 1st and they matter. Is there still a chance at controversy? Of course. But, I believe, less.


Just being undefeated doesn't mean best or there are a lot of 1-AA teams that could claim the title.

And while, sure, it's a (slight) possiblity BSU would have won it all in a playoff, I think the feel good Bronco story wouldn't be so memorable had they lost in the 2nd round of a playoff.

Finally, I think it's rather cool that so many teams are so pysched with their season. Besides UF, teams and fans from BSU, USC, Louisville and others are all on a high after the season, following their team's bowl victory. And I don't think that's a bad thing at all.

Mathew said...

I hate when people argue that regular season games, particularly v. rivals, lose their meaning with a playoff. Say UM goes into the OSU game 11-0 and OSU has two conference losses. Do you honestly believe that any Wolverine will not play his heart out for the chance to beat OSU, playoffs be damned? That LLoyd would sit some of his starters because he already had the B10 Championship and an automatic playoff berth wrapped up?

Not a chance in hell. Not a one. The NFL (or NBA or MLB etc) don't have rivalry games. At least none that matter as much as college rivalries. No Pistons/Pacers game, no Red Sox/Yankees game, no Pats/Colts game will ever matter as much as UM/OSU, Duke/UNC, Bama/Auburn. Doesn't matter what the stakes are. UM and OSU could both be 0-11 going into THE GAME and, in the minds of the players, coaches and fans of both programs, that would be the single most important game of the season, regardless of two 11-0 teams playing for a spot in the MNC game on the other channel.

Playoffs can't change that.

dkneebone said...

Superbowl Shuffle?

MGoBlue93 said...

If Indianapolis wins, I will not vote them SB Champs

Ungar Kelt 4:15 AM

Dude... you sound like Urban Meyer!

Ungar Kelt said...

If you want to talk about "games counting", how can you defend a bowl system with 32 games, 31 of which are absolutely meaningless?

Michael said...

and the biggest flaw with college football 101 as posted

And USC's loss to their arch rival UCLA, instead of knocking them out of the title game, would have simply dropped them to a #6 or #7 seed instead. Big deal.

why should usc have been in the title game over florida? not trying to bring up that topic but, i'm bringing up that topic. mabye usc would have beat ohio state and florida would have been left out. mabye to play meechegan in the rose bowl. nothing like a nice, long off-season of having a possible "split" champion and endless comparison of the two "best" teams that DID NOT play each other. lord knows debating what team had the worse loss as a point to decide true champion to get my juices going