The only popular team sport in America more rigged than college basketball is college football.
That’s not opinion, that’s fact; it is incontrovertible, indisputable and inarguable. So much so, I should just end this column right now and spend the rest of the day binge-watching “Friday Night Lights” reruns.
Couch Slouch is tired of hearing about the glory of great college football rivalries.
Couch Slouch is tired of hearing the contention that “every game counts.”
Couch Slouch is tired of hearing how only the best teams can compete for the national title.
Frankly, Couch Slouch is just plain tired.
ESPN promotes its weekly College Football Playoff rankings show with the words, “WHO’S IN?”
Uh, I’ll tell you who’s NOT in – every team from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference, all technically eligible for the CFP.
The University of Central Florida could play its entire home schedule on Jupiter, win every game by 66-3 and go 12-0, yet the Knights would still be out. UCF, in fact, has won 24 games in a row the past two seasons and is no closer to a national championship playoff than a pregnant wildebeest.
The College Football Playoff is more rigged than Wall Street and as scripted as the WWE.
Back in the old days, there was no national championship mechanism in Division I college football. The coaches voted on a No. 1 team, the media voted on a No. 1 team, and when they disagreed, every talk radio host’s head exploded until the cows came home – the cows even had an opinion – and this was all delightful and stupid.
Then came the Bowl Championship Series from 1998-2013, in which a combination of human polls and inhuman computers determined which two teams played for the national title. This was less delightful and stupid.
Which brings us to the College Football Playoff, in which 13 individuals – mostly athletic directors and former coaches – decide the four best teams to compete for the title. This is even less delightful and, of course, still stupid.
The Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) is divided into the Power Five conferences and the Group of Five conferences. It should be called the Power Five and the Wallflower Five, because the latter group has no one to dance with and nowhere to go.
It is virtually impossible for a team outside of the Power Five – the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac-12 – to play in the CFP. They pretend every game counts, but half of FBS schools are disenfranchised in this process.
I could tell you this all has to do with TV rights and TV money, but that is so obvious, I don’t even need to tell you.
In college basketball, the fix is also in, but at least 68 of 351 schools get to play for the national title, including every conference champion. In college football, it’s four out of 130 and really it’s only three, because Alabama’s always in.
Since adopting the CFP format in 2014, only nine schools have filled those 16 national-semifinal spots; in the same time frame in college basketball, 14 schools have been represented among the 16 Final Four participants.
The last Russian presidential election – theirs, not ours – was less preordained than the CFP.
So let me reprise my idea from a year ago that was laughed off the worldwide web:
Every school gets into the postseason.
It would be bigger than March Madness, a 128-team playoff that runs through December and January, culminating with the national championship game the week before the Super Bowl. The opening two weekends alone – to get down to 32 teams – would be a Thursday/Friday/Saturday gridiron extravaganza extraordinaire.
At that point, the bowl games take over, and everybody gets a meaningful contest.
Most important, everybody – and I mean everybody – makes more money.
Any of you Einsteins out there have a better idea that doesn’t involve the Electoral College?
Ask The Slouch
Q. Have you considered employing Scott Boras to negotiate your next contract? Your alimony-receiving ex-spouses would likely contribute to his commission. (Mort Faller; Potomac, Md.)
A. (1) If Scott Boras walked into my house, I would sell it immediately. (2) What if I told you that, as a feminist at heart, I actually receive alimony from my ex-wives.
Q. You wrote lovingly about TNT’s Marv Albert, but I hear him make plenty of mistakes. Have you listened lately? (Marc Terry; Chicago)
A. Listen, pal, Marv’s not as flawless as he once was, but he gets a pass for quality time served. Besides, nobody is as good as they used to be; heck, I peaked at age 19.
Q. Would The Slouch accept a pay-for-view bowling match against trophy-wife Toni? (Jack O’Brien; Fairfax, Va.)
A. If I publish your question, “trophy-wife Toni” might turn me into “sofa-sleeping Norman.”
Q. When San Jose and Winnipeg meet in the NHL, do dance numbers spontaneously break out at center ice before each game? (Scott Nesbit; Pittsburgh)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!
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