The time has finally come. While it has become a foregone conclusion over recent months, the official announcement was a weight lifted for fans of the sport. College football is instituting a four team playoff.
Like all true fans of the sport I have been begging for this system to be implemented since the first postseason I watched. So now that my wish has finally been granted, why do I only feel fear?
I should be relieved at this news, but instead I look ahead to a dark, dark future for the sport that I know and love. While this provides us the change that we have wanted for a long time, moving football into the supposed modern age, it does it for all the wrong reasons. Most importantly, money.
Money, a word that has been at the center of sports since their inception, is what we have to fear the most in our beloved sport. Like I said, money’s influence has never been a stranger to college football, especially in the BCS era. Despite the pleas of fans everywhere the higher ups of football were too focused on the money to hear their pleas and refused to budge their stance. Until the money was right that is.
For the same reason that we couldn’t get rid of the BCS for so many years, we now have our playoff system. But this is a win for us right, even if it’s for the wrong reasons we still get the change that was necessary for the sport. The problem stems not form what is happening now, but from what it implies for the future.
What we need to remember is that these players are not professionals; they are still students, with the same responsibilities as their peers. A big discussion about the playoffs is how it will affect the academics of the student athletes, and it has completely fallen on deaf ears. Students taking place in a playoff system will see their grades suffer, ask any FCS coach and they will tell you, but it seems that the coaches and commissioners either don’t know or don’t care.
My bet is on the latter, a few bad grades are completely worth the revenue that can be brought in by a national championship. While the current system really doesn’t change anything, the national championship will take place around the same time; it is the potential for a larger system that could prove dangerous. It is seen as a foregone conclusion that we will eventually get a larger system, whether it be 8 or 16 teams, but this could be damaging for the students with an extra few weeks added onto an already elongated season.
This is all just speculation of course but I just can’t get rid of this bad feeling. For all I know the new system could work out and be exactly what we were all hoping for, but I fear that college football is headed down a dark road. If we continue down this path there will be nothing stopping presidents and commissioners from exploiting the student athletes without restriction.
I hope for the sake of the students, and for the sport itself that I’m wrong and this is all just the first step into the modern age. But if not this is a dark new age for the sport, and for collegiate athletics as we know it.