College Football Trophy

Slaying the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg

“If the goose is able to lay these golden eggs,” he said, “then the inside of the goose is probably filled with gold. I will cut open the goose and get all the gold at once!” The greedy man then grabbed an axe and cut the goose in half. Much to his surprise, the goose was just like any other goose inside; there was no gold. Aesop’s Fables

The College Football Playoff has ruined college football.

Yes, you read that right. It’s ruined it. The committee is tasked with finding the best four teams to match in a two-weekend playoff, the determines the National Champion. I felt compelled to put that part in because of the sham mockery of UCF’s claim to be National Champions. I have no time for that level of pettiness.

For the most part, the College Football Committee has done a great job. It’s hard to argue that they haven’t gotten the correct four teams in the playoffs. And, that folks, is the problem. The Committee has done such a great job, there are people who feel compelled to play the “what about” game. What about UCF? What about Ohio State? What about making sure all Power 5 conferences are represented? What about the Group of Five?

It goes on and on and on to the point where making the playoffs becomes meaningless. It is the exact opposite of what the playoff was supposed to do. It was supposed to determine a sole national champion while keeping the regular season relevant. That’s hard to do. College football does a great job of making people care about each and every game of the regular season. You get one mulligan. Some teams don’t even get one.

But that’s not enough for the fans. There’s a cry for eight teams. Then there will be a cry for sixteen teams. All the while the NCAA will argue that the players aren’t employees, even though, they are treated like employees. When does it all end? If the NCAA is here to ensure the players aren’t exploited, a word they lose to use to justify their draconian rules, that means you have to protect them from the fans.

It’s the fans who have made the college experience that is supposedly for the players, all about them. Fans are acting like these kids owe them something. How ridiculous does that sound?

This is why I miss the old bowl system. I miss the conference tie-ins that made games important whether it was for the National Championship or not. What was so bad about it? There’s currently a tournament style playoff and fans still want to say it doesn’t determine a real National Champion. It was what led to UCF’s mythical claim.

Remember the controversy behind split national championships? Of course you don’t because in the grand scheme of things, we accepted that there wasn’t a playoff and we were cool with it. You had the Rose Bowl in the middle of the day. Then you had a quality choice between the Sugar Bowl and the Orange Bowl. The Rose Bowl has gave us so many Pac 10-Big Ten classics that it would take too much time to talk about all of them.

The Orange Bowl gave us the Miami (Fl) upset over Nebraska when Tom Osborne inexplicably went for two. A playoff would’ve robbed us of that. Just like it would’ve robbed us of the Penn State win over the Hurricanes when Vinny Testeverde and the crew came off the plain in fatigues. It’s also where we saw Oklahoma dominate Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions and Clemson’s first National Championship. It was all without the aid of having a playoff system.

The Sugar Bowl had the SEC champion locked in. Gene Stallings brought his Tide down to New Orleans to beat down the Miami (Fl) for the title. This was long before Nick Saban brought his stoic, don’t compliment my team mantra to Tuscaloosa. That happened the year after Lou Holtz stunned Steve Spurrier and his heavily favored Florida Gators.

We didn’t talk Power 5, Group of 5 or the Jackson 5. Going to the conference tie-in bowl game meant something. It meant something to the conference, the school, the student-athlete. That’s where we’ve gotten lost. The student-athlete has been pushed down to the bottom of the barrel (again) in all this. No one ever mentions that the bowls that everyone claims they don’t watch means something to the players that play in them. Sad thing is, the fans, media, and every other yuck-yuck doesn’t care.

So enjoy the games today. Hopefully Notre Dame-Clemson and Alabama-Oklahoma gives you everything you want. But I don’t think it will. It isn’t enough. It’s never enough.

College football doesn’t need a playoff. It never did. But there’s no way to put the toothpaste back in the tube. We have the system whether it makes sense or not.

It’s just another example of how we killed the goose that laid the golden egg with a greed that will never be fulfilled.

Catch more of Mook's Writing