Bleacher Report is the clump in the litterbox of online sports writing. It gives a voice to thousands of writers who are better off without one. Case in point: People who think a college football playoff is a bad idea.
BR writer Lou Vozza gets the Mr. Fisker treatment for his ridiculous assessment of why playoffs shouldn't exist in college football. See why after the jump.
Fisking is a point-by-point criticism that highlights perceived errors, or disputes the analysis in a statement, article, or essay. Mr. Fiskers is OBNUG's fisking cat. He has hyperthyroidism.
Lou Vozza's Bleacher Report article is an oldie but a goodie. It was written last month, but it is just as offensive, inaccurate, and hopelessly void of reason as it was back in November. The fact that articles like this can stand the test of time yet we still can't find the City of Atlantis makes me sad for society. When a robot space species comes to inhabit our world in 50 years and all that's left of us is Bleacher Report articles, I think the robots are going to get the wrong impression.
The title of Vozza's article: Top 10 Dumb Reasons for a College Football Playoff. Mr. Fiskers' alternate title: Good heavens, someone stop him before he finds the Publish button. Yes, it's that bad. And yes, Mr. Fiskers is going to show you why. Let's begin.
Either through lack of education, lack of experience, or the inevitability of it mattering so little based on the dregs of the 1,500-word drivel to follow, Vozza did not write an introductory paragraph. And the world would later thank him.
10. Playoffs will ruin the importance and excitement of the regular season games
Wait. Wasn't this article supposed to be about dumb reasons FOR a playoff?
The NFL has a very inclusive playoff system, and its regular season games get much higher television ratings than college games.
The NFL's ratings advantage over college football has nothing to do with its playoff format. College football gets lower ratings because most of its top teams are located in small TV markets like Austin, South Bend, and Columbus. From the beginning, the NFL owners set up their league as a profit-producing enterprise and placed their teams in the largest cities, like New York and Chicago.
I know this may be hard for you to understand, but a long, long time ago, football was played just for the fun of it.
Please allow Mr. Fiskers to recap: The 10th dumbest reason to have a college football playoff is so that the playoff will ruin the importance and excitement of regular season games, similar to how the NFL gets high TV ratings because its teams exist in large markets unlike Austin, Texas, and South Bend, Indiana. Also, football used to be fun.
9. College football regular season games are do-or-die
OK, are we even reading the right article here? Vozza's first "dumb reason for a playoff" was actually the main arguing point against a playoff. His second "dumb reason for a playoff" is another reason against a playoff. He just set expository writing back 10 years.
Mr. Fiskers, inspired by Vozza's non-sequitur reasoning, has just completed his list of reasons why the movie Twilight would not be popular among tween girls. Mr. Fiskers?
Vampires getting to first base.
Long, awkward glances into nothing.
Then how come a two-loss LSU team won the National Championship in 2007?
Wait, are we now talking about real reasons for a playoff? Because this is one of the most on-topic statements Vozza has made yet.
In 35 of the last 50 years, the National Champion has been undefeated.
The playoff/BCS issue is not with undefeated national champions. The issue is with multiple undefeated teams at the end of the year. Was Auburn consoled at the end of 2004 when USC was an undefeated national champion? I doubt it.
Also, if an undefeated national champion is the proof that college football's current system works, then we have set our standards very low. Mr. Fiskers did the math. Thirty-five out of 50 undefeated national champions only works out to 70 percent. Oddly enough, this was Mr. Fiskers's healthy red blood cell percentage prior to going on a hypoallergenic diet.
But hey, football used to be fun, so throw all those numbers out the window.
One-loss champions are the exception and LSU's championship may end up being a singular event. Regular season college games are do-or-die relative to the NFL, where six and seven-loss teams regularly make the playoffs.
If it makes you happy, from now on I'll call it "do-or-probably die." Thanks a lot, Word Police.
As card-carrying members of the Word Police, Mr. Fiskers and I resent that. Also, there should be a hyphen after "six" in the above paragraph.
8. In the BCS, the best teams don't play against each other
Finally, a dumb reason FOR a college football playoff. Whoever had No. 8 in the pool for "The point in Lou Vozza's top ten when he actually makes a point that supports the article's title" wins. What's that? It was you, Mr. Fiskers? Then congratulations.
In an eight team playoff, there would be a total of seven playoff games between the "best" teams to determine the champion. During the current regular season, we usually have about that many meetings between teams ranked in the Top Eight. After that, the top eight teams meet again in the bowl games.
Is Lou Vozza onto something? Mr. Fiskers went back through the schedule and found out that no, Lou Vozza is not onto something.
Games between 2009's BCS Top 8 teams (regular season)
Alabama vs. Florida
Boise State vs. Oregon
And that's it. If you expand the list to include the BCS Top 16, the only non-conference matchups between Top 16 teams would be Virginia Tech vs. Alabama and Oregon vs. Boise State. Plus, pretty much everyone nationwide completely discounts Boise State's win over the Ducks because it happened so early in the season.
Actually, playoffs don't always ensure that the best teams play against each other. Cinderellas regularly upset top seeds before they get a chance to meet. Since the NCAA began seeding basketball teams in the playoffs in 1979, only once have all four No. 1 regional seeds reached the Final Four (in 2008).
Mr. Fiskers would argue that if the "best" teams can't beat underdog opponents, then they don't deserve to be considered among the "best." Also, since 1979, how many people have complained about the format for the NCAA tournament? I mean, besides Lou Vozza.
7. The National Championship should be settled on the field
In most cases, the National Champion is undefeated. When a team incurs a regular season loss, it's knocked out of the race. That's when it's settled on the field.
And by "in most cases," Vozza obviously meant to say "other than 2008, 2007, 2006, 2003, etc." Also, there were seven teams in 2008 that were supposedly "knocked out of the race" with regular season losses. One went on to win the national championship. The two undefeated teams at regular season's end did not.
The BCS only stirs controversy if there aren't two undefeated teams with credible schedules at the end of the year.
Except in cases where there are multiple undefeated teams, like every other year or so.
Then the system requires a beauty contest to determine which two teams play in the NC game. It's the sore losers of the beauty contest who agitate the most for a playoff every year.
I understand that many people get frustrated because they want to see four to eight of the top teams play an elimination tournament at the end of the season. They believe that this would crown an undisputed champion. However, a limited four- or eight-team "mini-playoff" will not create an undisputed champion.
Why won't a four- or eight-team "mini-playoff" create an undisputed champion? Lou Vozza isn't saying, but Mr. Fiskers assumes it has something to do with the NFL's TV ratings and a simpler time when football used to be fun.
6. Why not?
That's right, ladies and gentlemen. Dumb Reason No. 6 for a college football playoff: "Why not?" Mr. Fiskers will now eat a box of raisins.
(Note: Reason No. 6 is not "why not" as in "why would anyone in their right mind not want a playoff," but rather "why not" as in "let me follow up my previous paragraph." Lou Vozza, a veritable Rick Reilly in the making.)
Just like the current two-team mini-playoff, an expanded four- or eight-team mini-playoff will remain fundamentally unfair to the 112 to 116 remaining 1-A programs. This continuing controversy would force the system to expand to include more teams.
Playoffs are like government entitlements. Once you start them, they just keep growing and growing.
You mean, bracket creep? Please don't tell me the BCS website used Lou Vozza as inspiration.
Div 1-AA football began its playoff with four teams and expanded to 16 teams within five years. Currently, its playoff includes 20 teams and is due for more expansion soon.
Every other playoff in history has started small and expanded until it can't expand anymore. Considering all the money and prestige associated with 1-A football, a mini-playoff would inevitably grow to as many as 32 teams in a very short amount of time.
Mr. Fiskers fails to see the problem with this.
Most proponents of a playoff are asking for a 16-team tournament to begin with, which would allow all of the conference champions plus a handful of at-large teams. There would be no reason to go any larger than 16 teams because the 11 conference champions would be in, and there would be five at-large openings for the other schools. There are only four at-large openings in the current BCS structure, one of which is typically taken by a non-BCS team.
Mr. Fiskers, please explain to Lou Vozza how simply this would be.
5. How about this: the six BCS conference champs, plus two wild cards. You can even keep your stupid traditional bowl and rivalry games. It won't interfere with the schools' academic schedules either.
Nice try, my simple minded friend, but your system doesn't have nearly enough wild cards.
Hey, Lou Vozza, see above.
And I know you hate the Word Police, but Mr. Fiskers just wanted to point out that "simple-minded" needs to be hyphenated.
Let's look at an entirely possible scenario for this season. Let's say TCU and Boise State win their conference titles and are still ranked in the Top Eight. You will have to pick them as your two wild cards.
Look who you are leaving out: Florida or Alabama, and other quality teams like Oklahoma, LSU, Pittsburgh, USC, Cal, Penn State, Ohio State-all teams which are arguably as good as or better than TCU and Boise State.
USC as good as TCU and Boise State. Cal? LSU? Pittsburgh?
Mr. Fiskers, no! Put down that Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle! You'll put your eye out!
All of these teams have well-connected and well-funded booster and media support systems. Every season these powerhouse "left-outs" will band together and form organized campaigns to expand the playoffs.
Over time, they will get their way. Once the playoff is established, it's a simple matter to cave in to pressure and admit more teams.
4. Let's let in 16 teams in, including 10 wild cards. That should shut everybody up.
If only it were so easy, grasshopper.
You forgot about the five non-BCS conferences. They are already steaming that their conference champions don't get automatic BCS bowl berths. Once you create a large playoff, especially with 16 teams including all six BCS conference champions, you will have to include all the non-BCS conference champions as well.
And your point?
They will sue you if you don't. A very credible anti-trust lawsuit is already prepared and pointed at the BCS like a loaded rifle. Besides, think about it. Who ever heard of a league where a team can win its conference and still not qualify for the playoffs?
To accommodate them, your 16-team playoff will have to have all 11 conference champions and only five wild cards. Now you have the same wild card problem your eight-team playoff had, only worse.
Every year, the current BCS system will look like a monument to common sense compared to your 16-team playoff, where weak conference champions like Ball State will be taking playoff spots from higher ranked second place conference finishers like USC or Alabama or Penn State.
Mr. Fiskers did some work on this very topic, and surprise, surprise, Lou Vozza is wrong again. After playoff spots are awarded to the 11 conference champions, there would be five at-large spots left open for a group of teams including Florida, Iowa, Virginia Tech, LSU, Penn State, BYU, and Miami. Would anyone really have a problem if the Cougars or Hurricanes were left out of a playoff?
Bottom line: a playoff won't even come close to passing the absurdity test until there are a minimum of 24 teams, with all 11 conference champions, plus 13 wild cards.
That's why NCAA basketball, a league with a very similar structure to 1-A football, ended up expanding its tournament all the way out to 65 teams after starting with just eight teams.
Mr. Fiskers, how many conferences does NCAA Division I basketball have? A whole lot more than college football's 11? That's what I thought. Mr. Fiskers, show Lou Vozza what this comparison is akin to.
3. What's so bad about a 24-team format? I still enjoy regular season college basketball games, despite their communist playoff system where almost every team in the country participates regardless of ability.
Just a note to those of you who were expecting a Top Ten list: Lou Vozza is now just writing an essay, except he's numbering every other paragraph. Carry on.
I'm happy you enjoy those games, comrade. As a Florida football fan, I "enjoy" watching the Gators' spring scrimmage game.
But if you can't feel the difference in intensity between a regular season college football game and a regular season college basketball game, you need to get your head examined. You may have deep-seated emotional problems.
At this point, Mr. Fiskers believes that Vozza is returning to his argument at the start of the story about a playoff ruining the importance and excitement of regular season games. And had he not spent that earlier part waxing poetic about the NFL's manifest destiny, we'd probably all be less confused at this point.
In the current state of affairs in college football, one-loss teams are still alive for a BCS national championship spot. This takes away the argument that every game is like a playoff.
In the current state of affairs in college football, the games with the most excitement are the ones at the end of the year with obvious BCS bowl implications on the line. These games would still exist with a playoff. At the end of the regular season, the games would be between the schools fighting for a playoff spot. Then during the playoff the same atmosphere would exist - an atmosphere that you only get in bowl season during the national championship game.
Mr. Fiskers, Lou Vozza just got served. Don't you think?
Also, to make room in the calendar for a 24 team playoff, you're going to have to either cut the regular season in half, cancel Christmas, or move the Superbowl to March. Good luck with all of those proposals.
And don't think I didn't notice you trashed my bowl games and rivalry games when you expanded the playoff beyond eight teams. That was easy, wasn't it?
Oh, and by the way, the NBA regular season started last week. Please don't pretend you noticed. Nobody else did.
Ow, ow, ow.
Cutting the regular season in half would end things in mid-October. Canceling Christmas is entirely unnecessary considering it falls on a Saturday about once every seven years. What's a Superbowl? And I'm not sure what the NBA season has to do with this. Is Vozza also proposing that college football teams go to a six-month, 82-game schedule? We might have to cancel Arbor Day if that's true.
2. The BCS process just drives me crazy. It's rarely logical or linear, and there aren't those symmetrical bracket thing-a-ma-jiggies I love to draw.
Rarely logical or linear? Sounds like this article. Rimshot!
For many of us, that's the fun of it.
Wait. What's the fun of what? Mr. Fiskers, did Vozza just say that many of us enjoy the illogical, non-linear nature of the BCS?
However, if you're the type of person who keeps his desk neat and has to have his sock drawer organized, I can understand your frustration. You're kind of like the fat Microsoft guy in the Apple commercials.
Oh, I get it. Nerds are the ones calling for a playoff because they like to graph things. First the Word Police, now nerds. Vozza is messing with the wrong crowd.
1. College football is the only sport in the entire world that doesn't have a playoff to determine its champion.
Congratulations! You finally got it. American college football is unique.
Also unique? That thing that Mr. Fiskers coughed up a couple minutes ago. What was that, by the way, Mr. Fiskers?
We love it for its eccentricities: the corny bowl pageantry, the rowdy student section, the silly team names, the wholesome cheerleaders, the marching bands, the color guards, the weird mascots, the inter-state rivalries and yes, the endless arguments about who is "really" the National Champion.
Mr. Fiskers and I do not love the latter. In fact, we hate the latter.
I'm sorry it disturbs you that there's one remaining vestige of organic American culture that hasn't been co-opted by our parasitic corporate mono-world.
Rose Bowl presented by Citi.
Champs Sports Bowl.
And the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl. Classic.
You're probably happy that no matter where you go, McDonald's and Starbucks are the only two restaurants left.
Now leave our bowl games and rivalry games alone! And stop trying to turn college football's one-of-a-kind, spine tingling, do-or-probably-die regular season into one more mind numbing slog to answer the meaningless question: "Who's number 32?"
Instead, I guess we will have to settle for the mind-numbing slog of a meaningless bowl season that will fail to answer the question: "Who's number 1?"
The groundswell for a playoff is such that Lou Vozza's article never really stood much of a chance for credibility. His arguments are similar to the ones that BCS proponents throw out all the time, and they are just as transparent and illogical coming from a BCS Twitter feed as they are from a Bleacher Report article.
Arguing against a playoff at this point is downright un-American. There is simply too much evidence against the BCS and too much positive to gain from going to a tournament to justify any argument otherwise. Lou Vozza could be the biggest college football fan in the world and a truly nice guy, but on this point, he is wrong.
However, I would be intrigued to know more about this start of the NBA season.