By John Witzke
There was much celebration late last month in college football. A supposed cure had been found for what ails the sport.
In 2014, the Bowl Championship Series is being unceremoniously ushered out, much to the delight of millions. Replacing it will be the long-awaited playoff, which will consist of four teams chosen by a selection committee.
That's where the problems begin.
Unfortunately, we all know the reality of the situation. It's only a matter of time before four is expanded to eight and eight is expanded to 16. The TV networks, flashing the almighty dollar, will eventually get their way. They always do.
It's going to be sad — almost tragic, actually — to watch the one-time Greatest Regular Season In All Of Sports being reduced to a March Madness format.
The hardcore fans like you and I will still be there every glorious Saturday in the fall, but the casual majority will be gone until the playoff rolls around.
Then the masses will show up in late December or early January and fill out their brackets while pretending they gave a damn about the regular season.
USA Today columnist Mike Lopresti was among the few who expressed concern about a playoff. "You list all things a playoff is going to do for the game," he wrote. "I wonder about the things it might do to the game."
Lopresti made several valid points, including the fact that college football has been unable to rein in what has already become a monster.
"Did we just see a horrific child sex abuse trial in Pennsylvania, partly because a football program was so powerful that no one asked enough questions?"
He's right, and now they are going to put this monster on a steroid called playoff. More money to corrupt, more pressure to win and more incentive to cheat.
Lopresti also asks how the four teams will be selected. There's nothing neat and clean about it.
Take, for example, last season. Should the fourth spot have gone to 11-1 Stanford, or as Lopresti points out, "10-2 Oregon that beat the Cardinal by 23 points."
And that 53-30 game was played on Stanford's home field.
Of course, Oregon, which had already lost to LSU, would go on to lose the following Saturday to USC — on its home field, no less!
Stanford ended up No. 4 in the final BCS standings, but did anybody notice that the Cardinal did not even win the Pacific 12 North? That honor went to Oregon.
Remember the uproar from all corners outside the Southeastern Conference when Alabama, which failed to win the SEC West, landed a spot in the title game?
A playoff solves nothing.
Perhaps Stanford could have put together two terrific games to win a four-team playoff, upsetting LSU in the semifinals and the Alabama-Oklahoma State winner in the title game.
But as a college football fan, could you really say Stanford was the best team even if it pulled off such a feat?
The record shows that the New York Giants were NFL champions twice in recent seasons.
Were they the best team in either season?
Silly question, isn't it?
Unfortunately, that's what the majority has been talked into believing is best for our sport.
When Kentucky cut down the nets after the conclusion of this past season's NCAA basketball tournament, didn't you feel better about it than when the Big East's ninth-place team won it the season before?
Of course you did.
You knew that the best team had actually won and been declared the champion. The consensus best team winning a championship in any given season should not be a novel concept like it has become in the last few years.
As time passes and corporate money dictates a bigger (and supposedly better) playoff, inevitably some team will win a title with an even worse overall portfolio than Stanford's 2011 squad. For all we know, they may even have worse credentials than the 9-7 World Champion New York Giants of 2011.
Even the most ardent anti-BCS zealots cannot argue that college football has crowned a champion who is worthy of that lofty status each and every season of this era.
But all that is about to change and it's not for the good of the game.
John is a lifelong diehard college football savant who claims to watch more games than any three Harris Interactive Poll voters combined. He once went on a ridiculous four-month Sports Jeopardy winning streak on the Ben Maller Radio Show and can passionately back up any of his hot sports opinions you choose to challenge him on. Follow him on twitter at @jihadistjohn.
Image courtesy of 30fps.