This is WAAAAY off our recent topics, but here goes:
College Football does not have a championship. That's a misnomer. What it has is a title fight -- the representatives from 6 conferences (out of 11) and 4 bowl committees (out of a zillion) decided they'd create a duel between the two teams perceived to be the best in the country (they'd define what 'best' means) and give the winner the title, "National Champion." The 'championship' is not a creation of the overarching college football organization (the NCAA) and there is no playoff system giving every team a fair shot at winning it all, which is what it takes to earn a real championship - like the Super Bowl, the World Series, or the Stanley Cup (the what?).
The entire system of rankings and bowls and the BCS is not designed to make one team earn a real championship; it's a glorified watercooler conversation, a bunch of fans -- sportswriters, college students, coaches, representatives of the schools themselves, and some arbitrarily chosen computer rankings -- arguing about who's the best. Notice, Who's the Best, not who has earned a 'championship'. The system is designed to rank teams from across the nation, not to throw them all into a playoff bracket and see who comes out on top. It's like ceding in Tennis, or All-Star voting in MLB and the NBA, or the Pro-Bowl for the NFL. The rankings are an opinion poll, plain and simple. That's why you hear talk of 'style points' and 'strength of schedule' -- those things never get quantified. There is no official NCAA strength of schedule index. It's all in the heads of the voters and those who create perameters for the computer-generated indices. Yes, this kind of ranking system is unfair. You get the same thing in invitations to March Madness -- some little school is always squawking about how it got a bum deal and didn't get invited to the tournament. It's the same in pro tennis, pro golf, and any number of other sports. We stomach it there, why not with college football?
What people need to realize about the Bowl system is that it doesn't mean anything. Just like the All-Star-type games I just mentioned, the games don't mean anything. They don't advance anybody in any bracket or result in any meaningful trophy. The bowls are games that exist for the pure joy of playing football. It's two people meeting over a watercooler saying, "The Big Ten stinks: Pac-10 is where it's at." and "The Pac-10 stinks: Big Ten is where it's at. I wonder what would happen if we pitted the best Big Ten team against the best Pac-10 team. They never meet during the season, so let's get them together in, say, January, when there's nothing else to do. We can play some football, sell some tickets, drink some beer, and have a great time." So they do. Sure, money's involved. That's ok. It keeps many NCAA sports afloat that wouldn't get funding otherwise. No, it's not fair. It's not a playoff. That's ok. It's a system of duels for bragging rights and the joy of the sport.
The bowls are the only true post-season there is anymore. What masquerades as 'post-season' in MLB, the NFL, and the NBA is really the only part of the regular season that really counts. The bowls, however, and the BCS 'championship' really have no meaning whatsoever in terms of competition among conference teams. They're all extra-regional matchups, and they don't mean anything. Except honor, glory, bragging rights, all those things that used to mean so much to men of earlier eras.
So when you Whitehallies out there hear people saying we need a playoff system for College Football, don't you believe it. Let's not have every sport the same. Let's keep the traditions and the independence of the conferences alive. Let's keep a meaningful regular season. People who advocate for a playoff system are just tired of the great national watercooler conversation. They're people who don't like the arguments and the ambiguities and want to just quantify it all so we can get on with the Hockey season (the what?). They're bad fans, or at least fringe fans, who want, McDonald's-like, to know what they're looking at no matter which sport they happen to see on the telly. They just want it fair -- not because they really care about the good of the sport, but so that no team feels bad for being left out. No stomach for the ups and downs, the power-plays and spoilers, the complex and nuanced system that is NCAA College Football. The fact is that most of this country loves the watercooler conversation. That's why NCAA football is so popular and is only gaining ground. Ambiguity drives the system and its popularity. Unfairness creates heros and goats and great deeds and terrible betrayals. That's ok. That's a great and powerful story. And every College Football fan has a story to tell about their team, their heroic moments and their tragedies. That's a great sport, my friends.