When I saw President-elect Obama a couple of weeks back on the television news program “60 Minutes,” I didn’t bat an eye when he was asked about the idea of a playoff format to resolve the annual college football BCS silliness and he offered his vote for a playoff system.
I wasn’t offended by the question, since it was a light-hearted query at the end of a long, serious interview, and it was a reasonable, fun solicitation of an opinion from a guy with actual athletic proclivities. Who better to offer a comment on Bowling, though we probably don’t want to hear his views on bowling.
I actually read something from a syndicated columnist scolding Obama for weighing in on a such a relatively frivolous subject during a critical juncture in American history. Phooey. It’s not like he plugged it into the State of the Union speech.
And then after reading that, no less of an icon than the New York Times offers the counter-argument: “College football needs Obama to assume the bully pulpit for a playoff.” Uh, huh. Maybe after he’s worn out Teddy Roosevelt’s bully pulpit on some of the other pressing issues of the day. We ain’t exactly running out of those yet.
All the blather about a playoff system is pretty annoying, since anyone with a GED and without a vested financial interest knows that nothing more than contested bushel baskets full of dough is keeping the powers-that-be in college football from going to some kind of a playoff system. The posturing and idiotic debate will continue until financial pressures and the continuing decline of the 836 existing holiday bowl games gets profound enough to make the rational decision inevitable.
Those pressures are already not inconsiderable, and they heighten every year – like this one – when the convoluted, torturous “system” yields a national championship picture as out of focus and unsatisfactory as we are looking at today.
The fan ardor surrounding individual universities and even conferences is still enormous, perhaps even imposing enough to pathetically hold off the inevitable, but it certainly seems silly along the way.
I, for one, couldn’t remember who the winners were of hardly any recent bowl games, but I may not be the best choice for this rhetorical device. I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, either. But the whole bloated Bowl business is headed for boxing’s fate, where nobody but the most ardent insider could tell you who the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world is, if there even is such a thing.
And if anybody writes me with an uplifting passage about the importance of maintaining a commitment to the student-athlete, I’ll gag, if you can actually do that in cyberspace. The NCAA’s commitment to the student-athlete looks good on all the brass plaques on campus, but has little to do with deciding about a playoff system.