I must have really hated myself this morning.
I don't know how else to explain why I listened to an hour of sports radio talk about whether or not Condoleezza Rice, a WOMYN!, should be on the committee to determine the four teams that will play in college football's playoff starting next season. Surprisingly, the two show hosts (Brock Huard & Danny O'Neill) were the voices of reason. Not surprisingly, the callers were a stream of lunacy spouting off nonsense...and that includes the people on "my side."
There's only so many times you can hear phrases like "football acumen" and "football in the blood" before your brain starts to eat itself.
As you know by now, the crux of the argument against having someone smart enough to be Secretary of State of the United States of America on a committee to determine football seeding is that she has never actually played football. She doesn't know what it's like to "play with your hand in the dirt," as legendary p***y Pat Dye said.
In effect, the argument is that if you didn't play football, how can you judge football? I don't need to tell you how dumb that argument is. All I need to do is point out how many NFL head coaches never played in the NFL (23 is the # I've heard), how many journalists who vote in the AP Poll who never played beyond high school (most, I'm guessing) and how many play-by-play broadcasters actually played (probably a minuscule amount).
The argument really falls apart when people say that you have to understand the X's and O's of football to sit on this committee. The truth is, you don't need to know any of that stuff. That's not the point.
A playoff committee member doesn't need to know how LSU calls plays. They don't need to know that Alabama's defense runs certain blitzes. They don't need to know that Baylor practices really hard and that their wide receivers run cleaner routes than Oregon's.
What a committee member needs to know is, if Team A is 11-1 and Team B is 10-2, are there other statistical factors that need to be considered in order to choose Team B over Team A? Did they play a tougher schedule? Did they win head-to-head? THAT is what this committee is about. They are here to look down from above and judge teams based on the results. They are NOT here to figure out which team had better blocking schemes.
And if you don't believe me, look at the NCAA Tournament selection committee, where it's all about crunching numbers and results. It most certainly isn't about which school honors James Naismith by playing a purer brand of basketball.
However, forget all of that. What I really took out of the whole conversation was actually a thought about just how dumb it is that we even have to have a committee in the first place. Leave it to the college athletics, the dumbest of the dumb American athletic bodies, to replace one convoluted system with a different one and convince us that it's a success.
I know this is the part where I'm told I'm just going to hate any system used to determine college football's champion. And you know what, so long as we refuse to admit that the way college football is setup in inherently flawed and needs to be blown up, then yes, I am going to keep hating said system.
Sports don't need committees. Sports shouldn't have committees. We understand this in just about every professional sport there is. There is no committee to determine that the Pittsburgh Pirates should make the MLB playoffs. They're in because they won enough games to make it. Just as it is in the NFL, NHL, NBA and every other sport. If we suddenly decided that MLB playoff spots would be determined by Bud Selig and a committee of concerned citizens, the entire baseball community would riot. Rightly so.
I know I'm up in my ivory tower right now but this whole committee brouhaha has really driven home just how little we "won" in terms of getting rid of the BCS.
Think of college athletics like a game of Jenga. When we started the game, we started stacking all of these wonky pieces together. The base was sturdy so we kept stacking. Eventually we realized the sports had outgrown their humble origins but we continued to stack higher and higher, even though the base wasn't supporting it as best it could. We kept bowl games. We realigned conferences. Eventually we've arrived at this point where you're using a jerry-rigged system from 1930 and trying to make it work in 2013. But we do, and that's why we have a billion-dollar industry run on the backs of unpaid talent. That's why we have unfair conference advantages. That's why we have committees instead of a 100% merit-based playoff system.
College athletics just keeps stacking more and more stuff on top of that Jenga tower. And we're only a few more pieces away from watching the whole thing topple over. By itself, a playoff committee won't do it. But couple it with everything else inherently wrong and outdated about college athletics and it's a perfect example of what a mess it's become.
Stop worrying about who's on the committee. Start worrying about why we need it in the first place.