College football is back on the radar again. BYU had their media day yesterday, Utah announced a series against Michigan, and the oversight committee approved a playoff system in place of the BCS bowl. Here’s the thing – all of these things are really good things.
The playoff system has been well received. The system preserves the importance of the regular season, lets teams play in the bowls, but finally figures out a way to pit the two best teams in the country against each other. TV ratings will be up, the competition level will be up, and the sportsbook will fill up with friendly wagering on which team will be able to win it all.
But let me tell you why this is a bad thing, especially as a Oklahoma Sooner fan who writes for Utah locals. I sent this out on Twitter after hearing the news of a playoff:
But seriously, small schools have got to feel awful right now. It’s a four-conference world that you have to pay to play in. #MustBeTheMoney
— Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan) June 26, 2012
Despite “small schools” like Utah, Texas Christian and Boise State finishing with undefeated seasons in the last few years, the probability of these schools being invited to one of the playoff bowls has to be slim. The playoff system promises large amounts of revenue, with advertising promises rolling in to cash in on the prime time showings of the games.
If the selection committee patterns the BCS bowl selection committees, an undefeated season will be necessary for schools like BYU and Utah to at least be in the conversation for the national championship playoff, a point echoed by Bronco Mendenhall yesterday at the BYU media day.
The landscape of division I football has changed along with the playoff shift. With the expanding conferences – Pac 12, Big 10, SEC – that leaves a small window for every other team in the country. I just don’t think we live in a world where money doesn’t rule this decision, and that kind of sucks.
What does this mean for BYU and Utah? Let’s use our imagination for a second.
- Utah finishes the season 11-1, losing in the Pac 12 championship game.
- Oklahoma finishes the season 11-1, losing in the Big 12 championship game.
- South Carolina finishes the season 11-1, losing in the SEC championship game.
- Wisconsin finishes the season 11-1, losing in the Big 10 championship game.
- Who gets chosen, strength of schedule aside?
The only human who chooses Utah is a die-hard Ute fan with blinders on. Full objectivity on, in this imaginary world where I am on the selection committee, I’d rank those schools in order as Wisconsin, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah. Why? Because I know those teams are going to bring more money in for the games. Here’s the kicker – I think the Utah administration, behind closed doors, would agree to that as well. With the revenue sharing agreement, Utah would still likely receive a bowl invitation and then top it off with a cherry from the incoming money from the playoff system.
In the end, hey, it must be the money as Nelly so eloquently sung many years ago. The super conferences are going to be able to rule the football scene, and I’m okay with that. It results in a good product on screen, and as a fan of a big time school (Oklahoma) this system will probably result in seeing the crimson and cream suit up for a national championship in the foreseeable future. It just means that my alma mater will likely never have that opportunity.