Friday, January 02, 2009

Against football playoffs

I'll be the first to admit that I would enjoy seeing a game between USC and whoever wins the supposed BCS "championship" game next week. I supect USC would win, perhaps handily. Pete Carroll really knows how to get a team operating at close to peak effriciency at the end of the season. But unlike a lot of fans I have little desire to see a true or even semi-authentic playoff system for college football. Why does there have to be an unambiguous single national champion? It would take way too long to do a proper elimination tournament as in basketball. And tournaments can have quirks just as easily as a decentralized bowl system, with a superior team having on off day or an inferior team getting a lot of turnovers or whatever and winning a game it would lose eight times out of ten. With a bunch of bowls, a lot of teams get to revel in postseason success.

Perhaps not incidentally, having a bunch of bowls -- unlikely to change because so many commercial interests are involved -- makes the college football post-season a bit more like economic competition than athletic competition. Confusion between the two is endemic. In athletics competition leads to a clear winner and a clear loser. In economic competition you don't have to have the most market share -- or whatever definition makes you Number One -- to be successful. You just have to have more revenues than expenses (or even just realistic prospects of being there next year), and the Number Seven market-share company might have the highest profit margin. It's nice to have numerous paths to success rather than a pyramid-type tourney in which only one team is the winner and the rest, no matter how much they improved or exceeded expectations, are viewed as losers

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