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Playoff Smayoff! We don’t need it

Buddy Martin - Executive Editor  |  May 1, 2008

The BCS has spoken. A certain group of college football fans didn’t get their playoff candy. And they're going to need their group therapy.

It’s official. There’s not going to be anything beyond what we already have in the BCS until after 2013: A one-game championship.

The idea of a “Plus One” playoff was voted down by the conference commissioners (plus Notre Dame’s athletic director) in their Hollywood, Fla. meeting.

I’m OK with that, although I have never been totally against a a “Plus One” format.

Trouble is, once we get “Plus One” format the college football brain trusts won’t stop until they’ve got 16, then 32, then 64.

Besides, if college presidents ever got the word how much money could be made at it, they’d want to make football a year-round sport. Because let’s face it—today, it’s all about the money.

So I say kudos to those commissioners who held the line in Hollywood.

I’m already on record here as being a reformed bowl basher who no longer favors an expanded playoff. So the news that St. Petersburg and Washington, D.C. were approved for bowl games, bringing the number to 34, was just fine by me. Bowls are a reward for a job well done by coaches and players, some of which are rarely exposed to national TV.

Those of us who want to protect the integrity of the regular season and think some conferences with playoff games already have it right are quite pleased with the ultimate outcome recently of the BCS. And as for those who say it won’t, I say there’s no way it can’t NOT impact the regular season (how’s that for a triple negative?).

As long as your team plays in a strong conference and does well, your team has a good chance of playing for the title. We like the SEC just fine the way it is, thank you. Three SEC champions in five seasons should speak for itself. Any kind of round robin tournament would dilute that, because SEC teams beat up on teach other all season and to extend it beyond “Plus One” would only help the weaker conferences.

Granted, there is always a lot of teeth-gashing and complaining about the BCS, just as there was in 2004 when Auburn didn’t get in and just as there was in 2006 when Florida was almost left out. But I say trust the process and we will get it right 80 per cent of the time.

The real news out of that meeting is that they gave consideration to expanding the playoff in the first place. It was the SEC’s Mike Slive who pushed for the idea. Which is surprising, given the SEC’s success in the BCS.

The good health of the game also had to be considered. If it ain’t broke – yada, yada, yada.

And, has been pointed out, attendance for college football rose for the 11th straight season in 2007, to an average of 46,962. Some TV ratings numbers were down (ABC) and others were up (ESPN and CBS). Perhaps that has to do with the conferences they telecast.

It was no big deal to Urban Meyer, either. Told that the group had shot down the idea of expanding the playoff and was keeping it to just one game, the Gator coach said: “That’s OK, just as long as the Gators are in it.”

That just about sums it up right there.

About the author
Buddy Martin photo

Buddy Martin

Gator Country Executive Editor Buddy Martin is an Emmy winner, former sports editor of the New York Daily News, Denver Post, St. Petersburg Times and Florida Today, as well as a longtime follower of Florida Gator sports. Buddy's new book about Urban Meyer will be released this fall. Buddy, his wife Joni and son Brenden reside in his hometown of Ocala. He is also the co-creator of the Sports Journalism Summit at Poynter Media Institute in St. Petersburg and regularly contributes to sports radio shows in Tampa, Denver, Fort Myers and Ocala-Gainesville.

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