In the last two years, there has been a tremendous amount of chatter regarding the need for a college football playoff system. People wanted to see the top teams battle it out for the right to play for a championship. In every other sport and league, that is how the postseason normally works. You play the regular season for a chance to play in the postseason, and you play in the postseason for a chance at playing in the title game.
The NCAA finally gave in and accepted the fact that it would be necessary, therefore we will see our first college football playoffs next season. Great. But as a college football fan, I want more than that.
I don’t want to see the best of the best just battle at the end of the season. I want to see them battle all season long.
What do I mean?
As much as I love seeing Ohio State beat the living hell out of a lowly football team with their backup quarterback, I am getting sick of it. Here is why…
No Team Needs More Than One “Fine-Tuning” Game
Non-conference games are widely known as record boosters and “Fine-Tuning” games. What I mean by that is the majority of top 25 teams pay these small schools to come get the s**t kicked out of them so that their school can work on getting more reps in before the conference schedule starts. It is all good and fun to do whatever you want on the football field, but is that really making your team better?
No, it is absolutely not.
I can deal with a team needing one game to get the jitters out and get back into playing football competitively again. Every team has different ways of practicing and after a long off-season, players want to play against another colored jersey and hit somebody else. Everybody likes a confidence booster to start off their season and why wouldn’t they? I can accept one game. What I can’t accept is that being the case for four straight games in a season.
There is a theme in college football that many teams will play one big game in either week two or three of the season, and those are supposed to make up for all of the cupcakes that they have before or after it. Wouldn’t you want to see big game after big game every single weekend?
This leads me to my next point…
How fun was it getting to watch a Georgia team, who nearly made it to the title game last year, lose to 8th ranked Clemson in week one, but bounce back in week two against a top 5 South Carolina team lead by Jadeveon Clowney?
Is that not what college football is all about? Georgia’s season was on the line if they suffered another loss in week 2, yet they were able to pull out a giant win and kept their hopes alive. What did other teams do in weeks 1 and 2? Lets take a look at some big names.
Oregon- 66-3 over NIC and 59-10 over Virginia
Ohio State- 40-20 over Buffalo and 42-7 over SDSU
Texas A&M- 52-31 over Rice and 65-28 over Sam Houston State
Stanford- 34-13 over San Jose State.
Point here being that some of the top teams in the country have cakewalks for schedules and will be in the mix for title contention at the end of this season because of it. Being an Ohio State fan, of course I am enthralled that the Bucks will hopefully have a shot at going to the championship at season’s end. But, I want to see how this team would stack up against other top programs around the country first. I don’t care that we beat SDSU by 35 points at home. All that game proved to me was that the team can win an easy game with one of the best home crowds behind them.
Oh, and Braxton Miller was hurt on the first drive so this game by all means was a failure. That’s not the point.
The NCAA needs to implement an “Elite” League or conference.
With the addition of the playoff system, teams are now allowed to be in the top 4 of the polls in order to have a shot. That means that they are allowed to lose a game or maybe even two, and still have the chance to win a ring. What does that mean for a team’s strength of schedule?
It needs to improve.
The whole argument with playing easy games to start your season is that you don’t want to risk losing early on and having no chance to win a championship down the line.
I believe that there needs to be a way that the top 50 teams in college football play each other week in and week out for the duration of the season, if not just the non-conference portion. It would create a tremendous buzz of excitement surrounding each Saturday and every game would be crucial to the outcome of your team’s season. Not to mention, playing the best competition only makes for a stronger team.
To relate this to college basketball, I am a huge Tom Izzo fan for several reasons but none more than this: He wants to play the best teams in the country at the beginning of every year because every year it prepares his team for what challenges arise in March. Just a few season’s ago, Izzo scheduled North Carolina as the second game of the season and Duke as the third. If you’re an Ohio State fan, wouldn’t you want to watch Braxton Miller go against Johnny Manziel in week 2 and Taj Boyd in week 3?
As a fan, there would nothing more exciting than watching those games. That way at the end of the season, you have been battle tested and can make a valid argument for your team to be in the playoffs.
Right now, I do not have an answer as to how the NCAA would make this work. What I do know is that there is a need for change. As fans, we want to see good games with a lot of meaning. We always like seeing our team win, but any fan would tell you that they would rather have walked out of Clemson’s stadium after week 1 than the Horseshoe in week 2.
NCAA, make it happen.