Friday, January 10, 2014

By The Numbers

Last week were the high holy days for the football fan. There were dozens of college bowl games, followed by four NFL playoff games, all capped off by the National Championship game on Monday night. Many of these contests proved to be more than just a little exciting, with underdogs challenging established powers and point spreads that confounded the oddsmakers. It was a time to revel in the spectator-fed nature of the sport.
Right up until Florida State beat Auburn to win the Bowl Championship Series. It was the end of an era: the BCS era. In 2014, we will have a national champion decided by a playoff system. How important a development is this? So much so that our President felt the need to weigh in on the matter. "You could trim back on the regular season. I don't know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this. So, I'm going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it's the right thing to do." He's been adamant about his interest in seeing the teams settle things on the field, not in some musty old server room since before he was officially elected president. On November 4, 2008, he said, "I'm fed up with these computer rankings and this that and the other. Get eight teams -- the top eight teams right at the end. You got a playoff. Decide on a national champion."
In the end, compromises were made. It's not an eight team tournament. It will only be four. There are one hundred twenty-six teams all vying for those four spots. Consider that the NFL has twelve playoff spots for thirty-two teams. And they still can't decide on whether or not that's enough. Someone, it seems will always be left out. Maybe it would be easier if they simply went to an all-computer based system where winners could be announced in advance. I just hope they televise the algorithm.

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