The BCS Playoffs Are Laughing In the Face of your Common Knowledge
If you’re hoping to find college football playoff haters for the remainder of January, look no further than the fans of Florida State and Alabama. Because the playoffs have robbed one of those schools of this year’s BCS championship.
Before this year, much of who was allowed to play for the championship was based on those things that are common knowledge to those that follow college football. For example, you might have a team that appears to have barely beat teams that, when viewed from the outside, don’t seem all that great. (Say, for example, Florida State.) Florida State is mighty tempting with their record, of course — but other teams have actually gone undefeated an not gotten an invite to the big dance. Or, perhaps, you have another team that has just one loss but that still has not seemed as dominant as other one-loss teams. (Say, another example, Alabama.) In a vacuum it might be hard to fully justify anointing either of these two teams as the two sole contenders.
Still, if the playoff system had not been adapted Florida State and Alabama would be playing on another for the championship on January 12, because common knowledge dictated that they were better teams. The reasoning for this common knowledge has always been somewhat circular: Alabama might have an identical record to Oregon or Ohio State, but that meant they were better — because a team that could beat Alabama was by definition a superior opponent to one that could beat Oregon or Ohio State.
After all, Oregon plays in the Pac-12, and we all know that all Pac-12 teams are soft, can’t play defense with the likes of a Florida State, and that all of their victories are therefore lesser than Florida State’s or Alabama’s. Ohio State might well have an identical record to Alabama, but because we all know that Alabama is a Great program and Ohio State is a Lesser one, we know that the one loss for Ohio State is a sign of their weakness, whereas the one loss by Alabama is a testament to the superiority of their opponents. You aren’t supposed to question it. It just is. Everyone knows it’s true. It’s common knowledge.
Now, however, the first-ever college football playoffs have slapped common knowledge upside it’s head, given it a wedgie, and put its hand in a bowl of warm water while it slept.
Ohio State beat Alabama in a game that wasn’t really in that much doubt after the third quarter, unless you count the “Maybe they can pull off a miracle!” strategy a winning one.* And what Oregon did to Florida State was the kind of merciless beatdown that will get you ten-to-life in most states.** Still, neither Oregon nor Ohio State would have been allowed a chance to compete for the championship prior to this, despite the fact that each team wasn’t just winning coming into the Bowl season– they was destroying opponents. Especially Oregon.
Prior to this year, though, none of that mattered because Oregon played in the Pac-12, which we all know is soft and terrible and can’t win big games –even though right now they are 6-1 in the Bowls. Alabama, on the other hand, had achieved it’s identical record playing in the SEC, which we all know is hard and mighty and always wins big games — even though right now they are 4-5. In every year prior to this one, Oregon would have been denied to chance play in the big game — mostly by people who never bother watch the Pac-12 — for being too soft and unable to play on the big stage; and that denial would have have been used as proof that they were too soft and unable to plain the big stage.
But that was then. This is now.
Mark my words: The age of the college football playoffs are going to turn what we all know about college football on its head.
* Besides the football gods had already spent the day’s miracle last minute comeback chit on Michigan State.
** Seriously. I’m an Oregon alumni who hates Florida State with a passion, and even I had to look away near the end.
[Picture: Oregon Ducks logo, via wikipedia.]