FanPost

Would A Playoff Make For Happier Fans?

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via www.web2freedom.net

My wife is from Wisconsin.  When I married her a decade ago, it was required that I adopt the Green Bay Packers.  As a life-long Steelers fan, this wasn't much of a problem, since the two teams rarely played, and their fanbases seemed similar: passionate to the point of being rabid.  Add to that fact that they really like to drink beer in Wisconsin, and I fit in easily.  (Sidenote:  my wife's hometown and my hometown in WV have roughly the same population.  My hometown has 11 bars, not counting chains.  Hers has 225.)

So, Monday night, the Packers had a particularly bad loss to their arch-rival, the Chicago Bears.  Consider that the Bears needed a blocked field goal, a kick return for touchdown, and two Jay Cutler interceptions waved off by penalty to "win" the game.  I have been a member of the Packers SB Nation site, Acme Packing Company, for a while, but have never really checked it out until after that Monday night game.  And for those Packer fans, it was like an apocalypse had happened.  And I thought some of our Negative Nancies needed help.  I mean, some of these people were melting down, saying that Mike McCarthy should be canned, that if the Packers don't trade for Marshawn Lynch RIGHT NOW, the season is over, that the secondary isn't good enough.  And this is after three games, when the Packers are clearly a dominant team, on both offense and defense.

I posted in one of the threads something along the lines of "calm down, you know this isn't college ball, right?  The Packers are probably still going to win their division and be a playoff team."  I have been thinking about that.

There has always been an ongoing positive-negative interplay at this site, and its predecessor, West By God, but it occurs to me that the reason so many college football fans are so prone to histrionics, and a predominantly negative attitude is the fact that there is no playoff.  Every game seems to be, no, is, of such tantamount importance because one loss can wipe out your hope for the year, and that is hard to take when your program is at a level that sneers at mere bowl games, where that hope, at the beginning of every season, is to win a national championship.  You have to go undefeated, or be a one-loss team from a strong conference even to have a chance to get into the title game, and that is the whole problem.  Fans are forced by the nature of the sport's structure to have a ridiculous level of expectation.  It is hard to go undefeated, especially when one considers that bad games sometimes happen, even more often maybe, when we're talking about young men 22 years of age and under.

Think about what it would be like if we did have, say, a 16-team playoff.  Would a loss like the one last Saturday night to LSU feel as bad?  I don't think so, because our goals would shift from "perfect season" to something like "win the conference, and get the best seed we can."  People would be less prone to bash the coaching staff because the parameters of how we measure success would change.  We would go from measuring a coach not by how many of those frequently unattainable undefeated seasons he has had, but by how many times he has made it into the top 16, and how deep he has gone with the teams he had make the playoffs.

I know.  Pipe dreams.  I am sure there are some that love the gauntlet of college football, that celebrate the very fact that there is so little room for error.  But in a society where every single other sport is settled with a bracket, I think a great many college football fans would appreciate the chance to settle things on the field, and the coaches probably would love a scenario where two or three losses didn't mean there was no shot at a title.  And can you imagine how great that first Friday night/Saturday of eight games would be?

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