Wherever there's a trough, there's always more hungry mouths to be fed than available food. In sports the solution seems to be: get a bigger trough.
The NCAA basketball tournament's about to begin, yet already some of the discussion isn't about basketball games but expanding the damn thing even further beyond its 64/65 team arrangement.
Some people want to be cute by a half, and expand the thing to 68 games.
Others? Massive growth. Sportz Assasin wants a 96-team field. Bobby Knight's thinking 128 teams (!!!). Enough is never enough. If conference tournaments weren't already enough of a sham (hello, USD and Georgia, great stories both but c'mon), these kinds of proposals all strike at college basketball's already wimpy regular season.
What's interesting is that despite all this expansion talk, much of the talk of bubble teams has been about how weak a crop of back-end teams there are this year. Isn't it sort of foolish to welcome in even more substandard teams?
If someone is seriously interested in carving out even more time for a postseason tournament, shouldn't "series" games be a consideration? How about having teams in the "Final Four" play each other in a best of three, same goes with the championship?
The fact that I don't really hear that kind of talk leads me to believe that there's just no seriousness about this tournament. People -- not just the fans, but those who have a responsibility to the game of college basketball -- aren't interested in a championship. They want the chaos of the tournament. It's Roman theatre over the idea of having a representative, meaningful championship.
That is the fate of college football if we even move towards any kind of postseason tournament. If things go that way, at first everyone's going to go ok let's keep this thing limited, do this "plus one" thing. Over time, too many other forces will demand a seat at the table and then it will be eight teams. Then 16. This is mission creep and is horrifyingly inevitable.
In the end, nobody will get what they really want and the college football game will be left with a monstrosity that is ultimately meaningless and created at the expense of several (meaningful) regular season games.
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If you didn't already figure out by now, I'm against a playoff in college football. This doesn't mean I'm against playoffs in general -- just bad playoffs. Playoffs should actually count for something. They should be a test for all involved but also spit out the best team at the end of the process. This means having teams compete in several head-to-head series, not one-and-done games that leave way too much to luck, chance, and other outside variables. Major League Baseball has the right idea, but even then it produces some questionable championship teams. The NBA seems to get it right most often, but then they've got best of 5 and 7 game series. That simply cannot happen with football when to be safe you're playing about one game a week.
Given the nature of 1)football and 2)college sports, it's simply impossible to have anything resembling a meaningful playoff for college football. I urge people to abandon the notion. The game has gotten smart by calling its "championship" mythical. It is exactly that --- mythical, and I'm ok with that. I'm more interested in the several hundred dramatic regular season games than a handful of postseason crap shoots anyway. Give me LSU/Florida in September over LSU/Ohio State in January any day of the week and twice on Sunday. We're the only game around with a compelling regular season and I'd like to keep it that way.
For more of my thoughts on this issue, see my "Playoffs = Bad Idea" category here, and read my entry Le Playoffs. If you're of like mind, send an email my way with your name or the name of your blog/website to be added to The Coalition (you're not alone!) of people against a playoff in college football on the menu at left.