I rarely speak to the national CFB scene - but I am tonight as you can tell.
Hooray Fighting Manginos. Seriously.
The era of parity is now fully upon us and I have a few thoughts about that.
I think I can safely say that the vast majority of college football fans want a playoff. I certainly do.
The sacred cow - the bowl (see above) system that is in place today is in place largely because of a collusion of University Presidents. There are likely more involved, but I don't want this to go over a Sooner's head. It's a money issue as most "issues" are. The Universities and their conferences (plus Notre Dame) know that they will get paid handsomely under the current system and therefore are resistant to change because there are no assured rewards of even more revenue. How are we doing so far? Enter the Regional Broadcast Networks (and in the case of ND, NBC). It turns out there was a way to add revenue - and the Universities were wise to latch onto additional television revenue.
I think what happened next has backfired on that same institutional leadership. A change happened that they didn't calculate. They couldn't have seen it - or maybe they should have. Either way - the momentum in the argument for a playoff system has changed.
The truth of the matter is, that in that singular act of regionalizing and increasing the number of televised games, they opened the floodgates of parity and let loose the dogs of war on a playoff system. The ultimate "Doh!" moment for the bowl system.
This year Kansas happens to be the poster child for this massive sea change in college football. The critics of the current bowl system are all pointing their fingers to Lawrence. The little basketball school that could.
The star football players want to be on TV - and now they don't have to go to Notre Dame to be on TV. Texas Tech will have been on a regional ABC broadcast 5 times this year. Easily a record for the school. Michael Crabtree has displayed his talents in front of the media and elevated his name in a way that would not have been possible even 5 years ago.
The Nebraska fallout and the Notre Dame fallout are both causes and effects. Midwestern kids are free to go to Missouri, Kansas and Illinois these days. Recruiters and coaches at these schools are quick to ensure a recruit understands that they can get just as much exposure as a Jayhawk as they can if they were to play for an "old time" power like Texas A&M or Oklahoma.
The rising tide of money is lifting all boats.
A sports radio program I was listening to this afternoon - the caller says "If Kansas ends up in the National Championship Game I'll never watch college football again!" Wow. Not only is the tide rising - the waves are starting to make the college football world a little seasick as well. We just can't have a little basketball school in the BCS title game...
Is a one-loss LSU team better than an undefeated Kansas team? What if Kansas wins out - gets into the BCS NC game against a no-loss Ohio State team? A real possibility. LSU, Oregon, even West Virginia all shut out of the game despite their clearly more difficult schedules?
Ahh the good old days, when the national champion stood out like Mangino's bellybutton. Notre Dame was on TV every Saturday and the best athletes flocked there to make a name for themselves and bask in the glory of Touchdown Jesus. Ohio State or Texas trotted out their all-world running backs and ran them down your throat until you finally broke right in two.
But what happens when you can't clearly distinguish who might be the fourth best team, much less the top two?
The same caller who would swear off college football at the sight of Coach Mangino on the sidelines of the Superdome in January (Dear God, Coach Mangino in New Orleans. Somebody alert Emeril to start cooking now) made an even more ridiculous comment...the reason we can't tell the difference between the top ranked teams is that they all happen to be horrible.
I don't think that's the case at all. I think it's because the teams have parity - that they all happen to be equally as good as the next. While you Mr. Oldtimer might long for the days of smash mouth Nebraska football, the God's honest truth is...your school administration and mine brought us here. And the money bag isn't lighter - it's much, much bigger. There's no going back now.