Opinion

The time for a college football playoff is now

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Eric McErlain
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      Eric McErlain

      Eric McErlain blogs at Off Wing Opinion, a Forbes “Best of the Web” winner. In 2006 he wrote a "bloggers bill of rights" to help integrate bloggers into the Washington Capitals' press box. Eric has also written for Deadspin, NBC Sports and the Sporting News, and covers sports television for The TV News.

Over the past week or so, I’ve really been struggling to understand the opposition to junking college football’s Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in favor of a national playoff. The reason: It’s not just that I think a national playoff would be more exciting and help determine a more legitimate national champion; it’s also because the BCS is so clearly inferior to what the college bowl system used to look like.

There was a time when the world stopped on January 1 (pre-BCS) to turn its complete attention to college football. The schedule for me and millions of others was rather predictable: shake off the haze from the night before, and then get ready to watch the Cotton, Sugar, Fiesta, Rose and Orange Bowls with only breaks for food and the bathroom to break up the day. Back then, there was a real reason to watch all of the bowls. After all, only the best of the best made it to January 1. Better still, you would want to watch all of the games because the results could often trigger a domino effect on the outcome of the mythical national championship.

All in all, it was 12-14 hours of glorious and meaningful college football packed into a single day. Compare that with today, where we now have a parade of meaningless bowls that begin a week before Christmas and stretch all the way into the second week of January. New Year’s Day has now become so littered with second-tier bowl games (New Year’s Day 2011 featured the TicketCity, Capital One and Outback Bowls) that the National Hockey League was able to muscle its way in and create a new tent pole event, the NHL Winter Classic.

When you look at it that way, it seems clear that junking the old system for the BCS was nothing short of madness, and makes giving up the BCS for a national playoff not look like much of a sacrifice at all. On the other side of the ledger, think of what the college game could gain by going to a playoff:

    • A new national television contract worth billions of dollars.
    • More games between the best teams in the nation on three consecutive weekends.
    • Did I mention that new national television contract worth billions of dollars?
    • No more paper tigers. Even an eight-team playoff would force an eventual national champion to defeat three quality opponents in a row in order to win it all. And it’s more than likely that one of those games would have to be played away from home in a very hostile atmosphere. How does LSU at Michigan on a Saturday night in December sound to you?
    • Did you forget that new national contract worth billions of dollars?

Granted, there is one group of folks in this country who are probably genuinely terrified at the prospect of a national playoff. That would be the 32 men who own the teams in the National Football League. I’m sure they know that staging playoff games on three consecutive weekends in December couldn’t help but draw attention and advertising dollars away from their own product.

REWIND: While Tedy Bruschi might not think much of New England Patriots wideout Chad Ochocinco, the only man who really matters on the team has a much different view. According to Patriots starting quarterback Tom Brady, Bruschi and other former Patriots who piled on Ochocinco in the wake of Bruschi’s tirade don’t “have any clue what they’re talking about.” The comments came in an interview on Boston’s WEEI-FM, the same station that originally aired Bruschi’s broadside at Ochocinco.

The Washington Capitals new season has gotten off to an inauspicious start, with the team dropping its first two exhibition games. One of those games saw the Caps play the Nashville Predators at the Baltimore Arena, a facility that hadn’t hosted a hockey game in 14 years. The results were predictable, with cracks in the ice visible from the press box and gaps between the ice surface and the boards. One player later described the conditions as dangerous.

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder managed to stay out of the headlines this week, but The City Paper’s Dave McKenna, who was once the target of a libel suit filed by Snyder, was more than happy to take a few swings at him.

Eric McErlain blogs at Off Wing Opinion, a Forbes “Best of the Web” winner. In 2006 he wrote a “bloggers bill of rights” to help integrate bloggers into the Washington Capitals’ press box. Eric has also written for Deadspin, NBC Sports and the Sporting News, and covers sports television for The TV News. Follow Eric on Twitter.