…you cut it, it grows back, you go on vacation, and it dries out again.
There’s been a lot of talk this past week about the end of the BCS and the coming of four-team playoff beginning in 2014. Obviously, this was a long time coming for many suffering fans of America’s most popular sport*. How much suffering? God forgive us to use a real life Cold War analogy, but Stewart Mandel’s tracing of the discontent brewing amidst fans all the way back to 1947 certainly makes such a comparison inevitable. And, just as there was jubilation when the Berlin Wall was smashed and the Soviet Union disintegrated, so there have been enough high fives to go around that even Republicans and Democrats have a least one thing to celebrate together this week.
I am not celebrating. If anything, I’m fuming.
Maybe fuming is too extreme of a word. Watching in resigned disappointment might be a better clarification. Why, you ask? The litany of reasons is almost beyond worth listing when it comes to popular opinion, but it boils down to the still yet unsolved issue of how and what a selection committee for the four-team playoff will look like.Paul Myerberg does an excellent job of spelling out potential problems on Pre Snap Read, but at the risk of disagreeing with an incredibly knowledgable college football writer, I want to draw attention to the overarching problem of choosing a committee:
What the committee needs more than anything – these are the two must-haves – are transparency and objectivity. No closed-door meetings followed by rambling, unspecific explanations. And no root-for-the-home-team mentality. That’s a definite.
I agree. A definite. But not only in terms of the yearned for ‘fairness’ of a playoff, but also in terms of its practicality. As in this is a definite impractiality.
You can argue all you want that format x or format y will yield the prerequisite “transparency and objectivity,” but they won’t. Not anymore than the polls or the BCS computer formula did. In college football, in the world where every muscle fiber on an autumn Saturday afternoon is fired in gladiatorial like combat which truly has reached religious status, every one has a dog in the fight. Fans, commissioners, media members, even the exchange student from Bangladesh who cleans the toilets as part of work study at [Insert your State U here] is biased in some way. No matter how the committee is determined, it will be biased. Not only that, but those who find problems to pick at with the committee’s selections will be biased in their own right, forcing the questions of expanding the playoff, shrinking the playoff (to a plus-one model, perhaps?) or abandoning it all together to emerge.
This week marks a new era in college athletics, no doubt. But as we look towards a future we acknowledge will have problems in its application (but still seems better than what we had) the inevitable realization festers. We’ll find something to argue about, and a new dilemma to complicate what we thought was the best possible solution.
The grass may be greener right now. It might be greener in 2014 and in 2015. But the problems of 65 years of discontent over not having a playoff, those will continue even after the fact. History as our guide, an imperfect sport as our Saturday afternoon love, we’d be better off to acknowledge its intrinsic imperfection, and cut the grass anew each spring.
*No actual data to back this up. My own assertion. Live with it.