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Project 4-5 - Football Playoffs

Page history last edited by Samey Abdulrub 12 years, 2 months ago

 Samey Abdulrub


Eng 1020 - Jared Grogan




               What’s more interesting than football playoff games? Football fans like me love to watch football playoff games whether its college or professional. The atmosphere of the games is intense and exciting. Teams battle it out for 60 minutes in hope to reach the top and win it all. They play all season so they could secure a spot in the playoff picture. The way the college playoff is set up with the bowls and NFL playoff is set up with the eight divisions is disputable for a number of reasons. This kind of argument concerns all the football fans and the committees of both college and professional football. My purpose of this paper is to show fans that the way football playoffs are setup today could be improved and I plan to evaluate this through three criteria: corruption, unfairness, and how it hurts quality of competition itself.
                One of the criteria, unfairness, happens in both college and professional football but most people oversee it. The way the NFL playoffs are set up today, there are eight divisions: four in the AFC and four in the NFC. In each conference, the division winner with the best record is awarded home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The division winner with the best record, as well as the division winner with the second-best record, receive first-round byes and host a divisional (second-round) playoff game. The other two division winners in the conference host wild-card games. Then, of the 12 remaining teams in the conference, the two with the best records play wild-card games on the road. The problem with that is now the divisions are too uneven. Teams that have a losing record still make the playoff because their division sucks. Last year the Seattle Seahawks made the playoffs with a record of 7-9. The playoff setup gives away the chance of good teams making the playoffs. For example, this season the NFC North division has three great teams that include the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, and Chicago Bears. It lowers the chance of these teams to make the playoffs because their division is harder. The AFC West division includes Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, and Denver Broncos. This season the Denver Broncos have the top seed with a record of 7-6. The Detroit Lions on the other hand have a record of 8-5 and are third seed in their division. The level of difficulty in each division is too uneven to keep the NFL playoff bracket setup the way it is now.
               Unfairness in college football playoffs isn’t as easy to spot but it definitely does occur. Ever since the creation of BCS Cartel, Division 1-A, college football has become more about money and revenue and less about the fairness and equal competition expected by football fans. In an article written by Mark L. Shurtleff, he says, “In a letter to the Department of Justice, 21 economists called the BCS a "mathematically dubious rating system," that shields major-conference schools from competition. It systematically denies thousands of athletes a fair chance to prove themselves the "Best in the Nation."” If you think about it and look at the past few years then you would realize that what Mark is saying is accurate and true. The BCS gives unfair competitive advantage to teams in six elite Automatic Qualifying (AQ) Conferences so they can get richer at the expense of the rest. Since 1998, the non-AQ teams have been allowed to play only seven times in the 114 slots open in the 57 BCS Bowl games receiving only 14 percent of the $1 billion payout. University of Florida President Bernie Machen said in the article, "When I was at Utah, our athletics budget was around $20 to $22 million per year. Our budget here is $85.5 million . . . and the major difference is the bowl revenue and TV revenue . . . but all SEC schools got the same amount of money that we got. And Utah could beat a lot of SEC schools. That's the unfairness." The BCS and the way its setup is demoralizing the sport. In the 2010 season, 10th-ranked Boise State (one loss) from the non-AQ Western Athletic Conference was denied a BCS Bowl while three two-loss AQ teams got to play and score millions of dollars. Another example is in 2008, undefeated Utah of the non-AQ Mountain West Conference was denied a shot at the championship because the cabal required AQ one-loss teams to play each other. Also, In 2001 Nebraska played Miami (Florida), after a blowout loss to Colorado in the Cornhuskers' final regular-season game and, therefore, did not play in the Big 12 Conference Championship game while in 2003 Oklahoma played LSU despite losing to Kansas State 35–7 in the Big 12 Conference title game. This entails that a team that couldn’t even win their conference title is awarded the title of best team in the nation, despite the presence of a better team within their own conference. If these don’t strike you as unfair, then nothing will.
             Another criterion in which I could support my evaluation is that the structure of playoffs in both professional and college hurts the quality of competition itself. Teams that have hard divisions are discouraged to play at their best because of how tough their division is and knowing that they don't have a big chance of making it to the playoffs. For example, In the NFC North division the Minnesota Vikings might be discouraged because in their division the Green Bay Packers are undefeated, the Chicago Bears are 7-6 and the Detroit Lions are 8-5. Knowing that, they will start to slack off and lack the motivation to win and perform at their best with those odds against them. Same thing also occurs with teams that are good and have a weak division. If their division isn't really that good and the team has no competition in that division, then the team will also begin to not perform at their highest level because of the fact that they already know they secured a spot in the playoffs with their weak division. An example would be in the NFC West division. The division consists of the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, and St. Louis rams. The San Francisco 49ers currently has a record of 10-3. The closest team to them 49ers in the division is the Seattle Seahawks with a record of 4-7. As a result of the weak division, the 49ers don't have to worry about not making it to the playoffs. They will then begin to bench their best players to save them for the playoffs which takes the competition out of the games that fans are expected to see when they watch.

            In College football, the lack of competition due to the bad brackets is present. The University of South Carolina was recently banned to any bowl for two seasons. I personally don’t agree on this because it takes away from the players on the team now for something that happened before they even came to play at USC. If the players know that they aren’t eligible for any bowl game then that would discourage them to play at their highest level. It also takes away their chance to be known. Most NFL teams look at how players perform under pressure like at bowl games. They are denied the chance to show them what they are capable of. Also, many elite ranked teams play easy teams that usually always end up in blowouts. Usually after the second half most starters are benched for the rest of the game and there really isn’t any competition at all in the games. Not only that but the schedule for teams during the regular season aren’t even. Some teams have a much harder schedule than others. Teams that have a hard schedule and a few losses could still be on top even though there is another team with an easy schedule that went undefeated. In my opinion this method of schedule ranking should be reconsidered and I believe most would agree with me.

            The last criterion, which is pretty obvious, is corruption. This criterion mainly refers to college football. In an article written by Katie Thomas, she states that recently Playoff PAC described to the Internal Revenue Service an all-expenses-paid Caribbean cruise that the Orange Bowl hosted for 40 athletic directors and conference commissioners, and their spouses, although it appears no business meetings were scheduled during the trip. They raised questions involving three of the four bowls that make up the five-game Bowl Championship Series about interest-free loans, high salaries, lobbying payments and lavish perks for some bowl executives. They have also made accusations about illegal campaign contributions. Matthew Sanderson, a founder of the Playoff PAC, stated in the article “They are using these tax-exempt entities as their own private fiefdoms.” There is so much corruption going on in the bowl games today. To solve this, we should really consider changing the way the Bowl Championship Series is setup with a more improved and flawless one.

            The setup of NFL playoff brackets and the college bowl games are debatable through various reasons but the three criteria I focused on were how it hurts the quality of competition itself, the unfairness in divisions for NFL and college bowl game selections, and also the corruption of the sport. There were fourteen 6-6 teams that made it to a bowl game last season and the Seahawks made it to the playoffs with a losing record of 7-9. Teams with those kinds of records don’t deserve to go to the playoffs. I’m proposing a new system of playoffs for both professional and college football. It’s simple; both should be setup similar to an NBA playoff bracket. For the NFL, it should be divided as AFC and NFC and the top 8 teams of each division advance to the playoffs where the #1 seed plays the 8th seed and so on. For college football, have an 8 team playoff at current bowl sites.

            The new playoff bracket for the NFL would consist of 8 teams with the best record from each division. The #1 seed would play the #8th seed, #2 seed would play the #7th seed, #3 seed would play the #6th seed, and the #4 seed would play the #5 seed. The top seed would get home advantage throughout the playoffs. The winner of each division would then go on to play each other and the super bowl. This way is most effective because it eliminates the unbalanced power in each 8 divisions that we have now. The teams with the best record at the end of the season would make it to the playoffs. Now we don’t have to worry about teams with a worse record making it in the playoffs over a team with a better record. I believe this is the best proposal because it erases the unfairness in playoff setup and wouldn’t hurt the quality of competition itself. Each team would have an equal chance to make it to the playoffs regardless of their division.

            For college football, have an 8 team playoff at current bowl sites with everything else still the same. You can still have the same dates and all the accompanying parades (and all the money they generate), and have a playoff too (and make even more money). We let in all 6 major conferences champs-even The Big East's-and any team from a non-automatic qualifying conference that is ranked high enough. There are 7 games played over a 3 week period at the 4 BCS bowl sites. One site hosts 2 games, including the championship, as is currently the case. The other 2 sites rotate between second tier bowl locations. This playoff system would clearly benefit everyone involved and is most effective. That includes players, who would get to play in games that actually mean something and get noticed by NFL teams, unlike many bowl games that some teams don't take very seriously. They would all play the same number of games-except 4 teams would play an extra game, and 2 teams would play 2 additional games.


            The current setup of professional and college football playoffs are arguable and should be altered through three criteria: unfairness, hurting the quantity of competition itself, and corruption. The best thing to do would to propose a new playoff setup. It’s actually really simple. Just like the NBA playoffs, the NFL would consist of two divisions and top 8 teams with the best record of each division move on to the playoffs. College football would consist of having an 8 team playoff. All 6 major conference champs are in it and any team from a non-automatic qualifying conference that is ranked high enough. This new playoff setup would eradicate the unfairness of the current playoff setups, decrease the corruption going on, and not affect the quantity of competition itself.



"BCS Has Devolved College Football into Unfairness, Greed." Arizona Local News - Phoenix Arizona News - Phoenix Breaking News - Azcentral.com. Mark L. Shurtleff, 1 Oct. 2011. Web. 15 Dec. 2011. <http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/viewpoints/articles/2011/10/01/20111001con-bcs-shurtleff.html>.


Jameson, Andrew. "A New College Football BCS Bowl Playoff System." Yahoo! Voices - Voices.yahoo.com. Andrew Jameson, 07 Dec. 2011. Web. 16 Dec. 2011. <http://voices.yahoo.com/article/9204173/a-college-football-bcs-bowl-playoff-system-10581281.html?cat=14>.

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