Q-poll: Americans want a college football playoff

posted at 3:35 pm on December 29, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

For college football fans, this fortnight is Nirvana.  Bowl games have already started, and New Year’s Day will bring the most celebrated teams onto national television, while the handpicked rivals for the national championship await their turn later in January.  That prompts an annual (and perennial) debate over whether NCAA Division I college football should have a playoff system rather than the BCS meld of polls and computer scoring to pick the two teams that contest for the title.  According to today’s poll from Quinnipiac, backers of a playoff system are winning that argument handily:

Americans who identify themselves as college football fans say 63 – 26 percent junk the current Bowl Championship Series (BCS) to pick a national champion and replace it with a playoff system like the NCAA basketball tournament, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Fans have a mixed 43 – 45 percent favorable opinion of the current system.

But while fans want to see a real playoff system, just like that used in other NCAA football divisions, they don’t want to make a federal case of it:

Fans also are divided on whether Congress should get into the game, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds: By a 48 – 45 percent margin, fans say it’s a bad idea for Congress to try to force the NCAA to hold football playoffs. While 60 percent of independent voters and 55 percent of Republicans think Congress getting involved is a “bad idea,” only 37 percent of Democrats do.

“College football fans are not in love with the current system in which two teams that play for the national championship are picked by computers, sportswriters and coaches,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Settle the question on the field, voters say more than 2-1. But as much as they want a national championship tournament, they aren’t wild about Congress getting involved.”

That makes perfect sense, including the majority of Democrats who think that Congress should have some kind of jurisdiction on the issue. First, Congress has better issues to address than the structure of college football’s post-season play.  Perhaps fixing the US airline security system might be a better use of their time, or undoing some of the damage from overspending and interventions the feds have made in other areas in which they don’t belong — like the lending market, for instance.   They don’t have any legitimate  jurisdiction over NCAA football, but as we have seen this year, Democrats in Congress aren’t terribly worried about jurisdiction or Constitutional authority anyway.

The NCAA should be able to craft a reasonable playoff system for Division I college football.  The BCS is a continuing joke.  But the best way to impress that upon the NCAA and the schools that comprise it would be to stop watching the bowl games this week, and stay focused on how Congress wants to take more of your money and choices away from you in more important arenas than football stadiums.


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I will live with Congress taking on the BCS if they will skip messing with Healthcare, Cap & Trade and more “stimulus”. My favorite idea is that they leave almost everything alone.

Cindy Munford on December 29, 2009 at 3:38 PM

I can’t believe people waste mental energy (esp. you, Ed) worrying about the outcome of a bunch of guys playing a ball game. IT DOESN’T MATTER, PEOPLE!

TedInATL on December 29, 2009 at 3:39 PM

Who’s #1? Who cares.

lorien1973 on December 29, 2009 at 3:39 PM

IT DOESN’T MATTER, PEOPLE!

TedInATL on December 29, 2009 at 3:39 PM

True. But if the federal government decides to meddle in something as inconsequential as college football games, then that IS a problem, a very big problem.

conservative pilgrim on December 29, 2009 at 3:41 PM

I don’t want a playoff. I liked the old system, where conference winners went to ‘their’ bowl.

Vashta.Nerada on December 29, 2009 at 3:41 PM

Get rid of the designated hitter, Congress.

Knucklehead on December 29, 2009 at 3:44 PM

stay focused on how Congress wants to take more of your money and choices away from you in more important arenas than football stadiums.

Well then…I guess I will let my kids wash their behind with the “Go Tide” foam #1 hand I bought.

WashJeff on December 29, 2009 at 3:44 PM

If Division II can have a playoff, then what’s the problem???

Congratulations Northwest Missouri :-)

Ordinary1 on December 29, 2009 at 3:45 PM

With everything else going on Ed, especially your previous post, I’m finding it hard to really care about college football right now…

But thanks for effort anyway.

Seven Percent Solution on December 29, 2009 at 3:46 PM

Get rid of the designated hitter, Congress.

Knucklehead on December 29, 2009 at 3:44 PM

Provide more federal funds for the Cubs since they have been baseball’s losers for over a century and that ain’t fair!

WashJeff on December 29, 2009 at 3:46 PM

I know this isn’t a universal truth, and don’t take it the wrong way, BUT my experience finds that 95% of people who follow sports very closely have their heads up their rears or buried in the ground regarding political and social issues. I like a good close fourth quarter game as much as the next guy, but I see a correlation of sports fandom and civics apathy. To me, the sportsotainment, Howard Beale News and nancy gracification of media is much of the opiate generating the haze that otherwise intelligent citizens are surrounded by. Sports is possibly the worst, because the people that go for it actually have the testicular fortitude to fight for their rights were they aware of how horribly those rights are being usurped.

Western_Civ on December 29, 2009 at 3:46 PM

With Anti-Trust laws, isn’t this an issue for Congress?

BCS is lucky that people don’t view them the same as “Big Business”, practically a license to steal.

jp on December 29, 2009 at 3:48 PM

I hate the idea of a playoff system. I like having to watch every single game. It’s like a playoff game every weekend the way it is set up now. The NFL is boring to watch the way it is…..

RightXBrigade on December 29, 2009 at 3:50 PM

Play-off, no government intervention…I can just see ACORN referring the games…

right2bright on December 29, 2009 at 3:51 PM

Western_Civ on December 29, 2009 at 3:46 PM

I think you have a point, in that a person has only a finite amount of time and energy to devote to issues other than work and family. I spend much more time reading and thinking about politics than sports, mainly because nowadays there seems to be so much at stake.

Having said that, I looooooove college football, and bowl season is a real treat every year. I wonder if there would be a way to extablish a playoff system while preserving the bowl traditions.

mikeyboss on December 29, 2009 at 3:52 PM

Get the Gov’t out of my life and leave me alone!

rjoco1 on December 29, 2009 at 3:53 PM

Here comes the public option for college football. Wonder what that will look like? : /

El_Terrible on December 29, 2009 at 3:53 PM

Give Congress jurisdiction over this? Well that makes sense; only liberals could be this dumb.

Bishop on December 29, 2009 at 3:55 PM

Play-off, no government intervention…I can just see ACORN referring the games…

right2bright on December 29, 2009 at 3:51 PM

the issue would be the BCS system in general, not so much how the NCAA then crowns a champion.

Its my understanding that the BCS is violating Anti-Trust Laws. The Sports product isn’t treated the same way as everything else, like say Oil, and they are getting away with it.

jp on December 29, 2009 at 3:56 PM

FINALLY!…Something that the American public will take seriously and get involved with.
This is definitely a case of chair rearrangement on the Titanic only in our case it would be the whole crew and half the passengers arguing.

cjk on December 29, 2009 at 3:57 PM

If I could write the rules, I’d say keep the BCS, but use it for seeding into the playoffs. Maybe the top 8, 10, or 12 teams make the playoffs. That way teams play it out till the end of the season. Give the top teams a bye week and home field advantage like in the NFL.

El_Terrible on December 29, 2009 at 3:58 PM

Provide more federal funds for the Cubs since they have been baseball’s losers for over a century and that ain’t fair!

WashJeff on December 29, 2009 at 3:46 PM

There are not enough funds in the whole wide world that can help the Cubs. As long as their fans continue to fill that falling down piece of crap ballpark, the Cubs will never get a winning team.

Boycott the Cubs.

Knucklehead on December 29, 2009 at 3:59 PM

Is BCS Violating Antitrust Laws? Yes, If It Actually Existed/

good summary on the Anti-Trust issue with BCS

jp on December 29, 2009 at 4:01 PM

Congress should spend the next year working on college football and nothing else.

Ronnie on December 29, 2009 at 4:02 PM

RightXBrigade on December 29, 2009 at 3:50 PM

So here is the problem…you mess up one game at the beginning of the season, and you are out of a major bowl. Meanwhile, these “great” teams pack the schedule with blow outs. The problem with the playoffs, is last year there probably would have been the top four teams Pac-10 teams…anyone doesn’t think that Oregon is one of the best teams, with probably the best quarterback?
I mean look the schedule Texas played and compare that to most of the other top 10 teams, there schedule included what UTEP?
That alone should show that playoffs would allow at least the better teams, the ones who have peaked (Oregon), and the ones overlooked (Boise State)….

right2bright on December 29, 2009 at 4:04 PM

College Football is a playoff from game one, you lose, you’re basically out…

phreshone on December 29, 2009 at 4:08 PM

Wouldn’t the extra games needed for a playoff series keep these college-attending, amateur athletes further away from their studies?

/sarc

capricorn on December 29, 2009 at 4:10 PM

“Congress should spend the next year working on college football and nothing else.”

A very good idea. They would do far less damage to the country!

GFW on December 29, 2009 at 4:11 PM

I haven’t cared about college football since I graduated from college, but Congress should butt out. Let the schools figure it out. Colleges are run by a bunch a Libs and can screw it up just fine by themselves without Congress helping them.

Beaglemom on December 29, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Congress should spend the next year working on college football and nothing else.

Ronnie on December 29, 2009 at 4:02 PM

Yep. I want them to depose Mike Leach post-haste, then investigate Urban Meyer, then have Joe Paterno testify for at least a month or two. Then they should thoroughly study restraint of trade issues in re Hofstra dropping its program, for at least a month or two. Get Maurice Hinchey and Chuck Schumer involved in that. And if we can just get Lou Holtz and Beano Cook up there on the Hill, we’ll never hear about Obamacare again!

Mr. D on December 29, 2009 at 4:21 PM

Whether or not college football has a playoff system, a BCS or whatever isn’t the question. Should the goobermint be involved in any fashion is the real question. And the answer is – a million times – “HELL NO”.

Right now, college football and bowl games especially, are BIG business. You let the goobermint anywhere near it and the whole thing will be bankrupt within three years.

GoldenEagle4444 on December 29, 2009 at 4:23 PM

In all honesty (and as much as I enjoy watching sports), who freaking cares and why is Congress wasting time on this?

ya2daup on December 29, 2009 at 4:24 PM

I’m all for it – if the NCAA gets the same amount of money and retains the same level of influence over the bowls they now have…which is to say, unlike their influence with all the other championships, far less than the conferences, schools, and teams. The NCAA doesn’t deserve to have handed to them on a silver platter, free of charge, the benefits of all the hard work and good will the various bowls have generated over the years. Anyone who doesn’t understand this needs to take a few days and closely study the dynamic between the NCAA, the NIT, and College Basketball over the last few decades. Money is power in college athletics and the NCAA has not shown themselves to be worthy of being handed more of either.

Knott Buyinit on December 29, 2009 at 4:31 PM

The powers-that-be in the BCS system will not allow an equitable Playoff system – like March Madness – to emerge without outside influence. The people holding the money don’t care about what the people want and quite frankly the fans hold no power of persuasion over the BCS big whigs. The only entity they’re scared of is Congress, because NCAA football – unfortunately – all boils down to money. And the distribution of that money is what the BCS insiders want to maintain.

Did you know that the six “big”, auto qualifying conferences (Big 10, Big 12, Pac 10, ACC, Big East and SEC) not only get an automatic birth to the big money games for their conference champion – even if they suck – but the BCS treats the rest of Div I football as one giant left-over conference? In other words, while a team like Oregon gets the big $17 million paycheck for playing in a BCS game just like TCU, Oregon only has to share that check with the rest of the PAC 10, while TCU has to share that check with all of the schools from the MWC, WAC, CUSA, Sunbelt and MAC. Not quite the same.

Furthermore, the system in place has made it so the “non-BCS” conference schools are always guaranteed less money in the big games. And it is from that standpoint, NCAA Football as an entity participating in interstate commerce of a product, that Congress not only can but should look into this mess. I know we’re only talking Football here, but what if we were discussing some other product or service sold across state lines, like Healthcare? Does the product or service we’re debating cheapen the argument that Congress has not only the authority but the Constitutional mandate to regulate said product or service?

smfoushee on December 29, 2009 at 4:33 PM

The mullet-nation known as Bama fans would dive off the top of the BellSouth tower in Birmingham if we had to go to a playoff system. It would further diminish their claim to their imaginary NCs.

With the BCS – as with the previous system – there have never been championship games for this division. They are awards, beauty pageants, bakeoffs, whatever. There is no “championship” game and it’s ludicrous and ignorant for any football fan to believe that what happens on January 7th is a “championship”. It will be the culmination of a beauty pageant, and has nothing to do with this season’s records.

It’s about money.

AubieJon on December 29, 2009 at 4:35 PM

With USC being a 4-loss team this season, I really don’t care. And that’s a crying shame.

John the Libertarian on December 29, 2009 at 4:38 PM

I’m not saying Congress should get involved (they shouldn’t), but it’s probably the only way to get a playoff system. There’s more money to be made on the current bowl system than in a playoff. What team is going to give up the multi-million dollar payout from a bowl game to play a home/away game? Even if they convert the bowl games to neutral-site playoff contests, how many teams’ fan bases will “travel well” for multiple playoff rounds? Best case scenario, the NCAA might be able to negotiate a 4-team playoff with the major bowls. Then we’d be arguing about who should be number 4 instead of arguing about who should be number 2, which is marginally better, I guess.

RightOFLeft on December 29, 2009 at 4:41 PM

Western_Civ on December 29, 2009 at 3:46 PM

Here’s how to have a different experience than the one you have been having -You ought to join your Alma Matter’s fan forum – both of mine have off very active off-sports topic boards that talk politics. And if yours doesn’t why don’t you start it? And go hang out at some High School & College sports – you would be surprised how much political talk there is in the stands and in the tailgating. People are upset and talk that normally wouldn’t permeate into the sports venue is pretty routine now.

TCU & Boise are being screwed not just out of recognition but financially… but no this is not a congressional issue, however they should spend the next year working only the BCS issue.

batterup on December 29, 2009 at 4:45 PM

Congress is the answer, they never screw anything up

tommer74 on December 29, 2009 at 5:05 PM

And go hang out at some High School & College sports – you would be surprised how much political talk there is in the stands and in the tailgating. People are upset and talk that normally wouldn’t permeate into the sports venue is pretty routine now.
batterup on December 29, 2009 at 4:45 PM

I’ve been at a few venues — mostly little league where the parents are engrossed with fairness and vicarious reflection. I find that too many people are cowed by political correctness out in public and clam up on “senstitive” topics, ie, they’re wusses. It’s probably more prevalent in the Northeast where I am.

Anyway, if it take govt involvement for sports nuts to be roused from their slumber, well okay I guess.

A Texas congressman came out for this Bowl issue to get resolved about two weeks ago in the midst of a big healthcare process phase. I called his office to inquire as to how he (a Republican, the name escapes me–Joe Something I think) justified the time and expense. The aide stayed with me a long time on the phone, but it was acrimonious all the way through with him defending the waste of time by pointing to the loss of money by some of his constituent universities. He merely hoped to deliver for them enough $$ for them to return said $$ to his PAC come election time. Disgusting.

Western_Civ on December 29, 2009 at 5:06 PM

The BCS is stupid. It’s about money, that’s all. A playoff is easy to come up with. Take the winners of the 12 major conferences and put them in a playoff system. Problem solved. And cut down the bowl games from 33 (waaaaay too many) to the second, third, and forth place finishing conference teams of the 12 conferences. That’s 18 bowl games plus the playoff games. A 6-5 team does NOT deserve a bowl game… Oh and mind your own freakin’ business Congress!!! Ya screwed everything else!!!

misterspork on December 29, 2009 at 5:11 PM

I think it is a terrible system, but it sure worked out well in 2006 and 2010.

Hook’em!!!

tommylotto on December 29, 2009 at 5:18 PM

Western_Civ on December 29, 2009 at 3:46 PM

You sound like a metrosexual whose not afraid to wear pink.

tommylotto on December 29, 2009 at 5:21 PM

It is all about money and influence.

There are few things that can end a liberal politicians career faster than disprespecting one of the Bowl Games. There are more big money donors and sponsors at these events than anything else.

This “cage rattle” is just a way to have big money roll into their coffers. Rattle the cage and someone pays them to back off.

I have no great love/hate for Bill Gates, but he forgot to pay the boatman back in the Clinton years. And they came after him. Microsoft stock lost Billions of dollars in value. Now Microsoft spends millions every year in lobbying money.

barnone on December 29, 2009 at 5:33 PM

Bleh, who cares. If people get a playoff, they will just whine like babies about the seedings. They will cry if they come in 9th and only 8 teams get in. Look at the NCAA Tourny, and they let 65 teams in now! You still get people whining and feeling left out – tons of bitching about the seedings.

All these sportswriters whining about the BCS would pick exactly the same teams, and they did, in the past.

They’re mad because they don’t have total control over the popularity contest anymore.

The one thing I don’t like about the BCS, is that it seems to encourage more scheduling of cupcakes, so schools can score 73 points, but in the end, who the hell cares?

reaganaut on December 29, 2009 at 5:33 PM

Is Obama going to fly to Copenhagen to make sure this happens?

exhelodrvr on December 29, 2009 at 6:02 PM

A few comments:
A playoff system sounds good in theory, but WHEN would the games be played? The college regular season ends around Thanksgiving. That’s just about the time when students are gearing up for finals. So, they are held over the Christmas holidays? Do people expect the teams in the playoffs to travel to at least three different venues (if you have eight teams) Do you play the playoff games over four weeks? A game per day? I don’t know, but it sounds too complicated to me.

I’m just thinking logistics here.

And I need to admit that I bleed burnt orange… hook ‘em.

pullingmyhairout on December 29, 2009 at 6:15 PM

And if it were a popularity contest, Colt McCoy would have won the Heisman.

pullingmyhairout on December 29, 2009 at 6:15 PM

Hey President BO & Congress can you give the MN Twins more $.$$ so we can compete with the NY Yankees?? It’s just not fair that they beat us year after year in the playoffs. If Congress & BO were going to be fair they’d give us a chance for change.

mmcnamer1 on December 29, 2009 at 6:57 PM

It’s about the anti=competitive stance of the BCMess, not necessarily the Sherman Act per se. However, this isn’t as the article points out, a deal COngress should be involved with, its something the DOJ should legitimately be working on discovery and deposition of the Heads of the Conferences.

It would be over in 3 months max. The commissioners would all be sweating it out and be forced to allow smaller conferences access to the money pool available to the others. The collusion going on right now would make all of america livid if it were being done with product lines not allowing others access to the market that would save them money. In this case, it isn’t about the consumer, its about small colleges being told, you’ll never be good enough so we’ll shut you out anyway.

Then I recall Miami upsetting Nebraska in 1984, but they were on that verge of permanent denial as well. Who is to say a small college might not spring a major upset in the qtr finals one year and it sets their college in motion toward permanent relevance?

JP1986UM on December 29, 2009 at 7:10 PM

Playoff starts week after conference title games.Week 1, Top 4 teams get buys, 5 vs 12, 6 vs 11, 7 vs 10, 8 vs 9, week 2, 4 games, week 3, 2 games, week 4, title game. Seeding based on w/l, strength of schedule, conference strength, and rankings…

misterspork on December 29, 2009 at 7:25 PM

Sorry, but with my Ducks in the Rose Bowl, I’m watching the game. And enjoying it. So far the Pac-10 is 2-2 with Arizona tomorrow night in the Holiday Bowl and the Ducks on Friday.

BTW, only 2 days, 15 hours, 3 minutes, and 38 seconds until kick-off in Pasadena. Go Ducks!

Mallard T. Drake on December 30, 2009 at 1:26 AM

anyone doesn’t think that Oregon is one of the best teams, with probably the best quarterback?
I mean look the schedule Texas played and compare that to most of the other top 10 teams, there schedule included what UTEP?
That alone should show that playoffs would allow at least the better teams, the ones who have peaked (Oregon), and the ones overlooked (Boise State)….

right2bright on December 29, 2009 at 4:04 PM

1) Oregon is going to lose in a close game against Ohio State. OSU’s defense is too much for Oregon and if Jim Tressel takes the leash off of Terrelle Pryor, Oregon’s mediocre defense doesn’t stand a chance.

2)Boise State is completely overrated. They got lucky against Oregon at the beginning of the season and who have they played worth a damn since then? Nobody. They will get beaten badly by TCU just like last year’s Poinsettia Bowl.

RightXBrigade on December 30, 2009 at 2:08 AM

Who are they polling, people from Boise, Cincinnati and Ft. Worth? Can’t the govt keep it’s nose out of college footballs tent!

Kissmygrits on December 30, 2009 at 8:22 AM

OK, it’s now time to get smacked around….but….

I used to think the only reason the NCAA would never go to a playoff system with 1A was that the SEC would dominate year after year….oh, wait….

That’s right, the SEC has won the national championship the last 3 years straight, and Bama is about to make it 4 (with 3 different teams, no less)….There is now no reason to not have a playoff system as the inevitable result is already happening.

If I have my numbers right, the SEC teams played 48 non-conference games over the course of the regular season. It lost a total of 6 of those games. You do the math.

runawayyyy on December 30, 2009 at 1:36 PM

Rather than filling the 247 bowl games with 6-5 teams, why not let the 1 seed play the 10 seed in the Grandma Jones Toilet Plunger Bowl?

Not that Bowling Green and Idaho shouldn’t have been given a bowl berth (Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl), but why not give the good people of Boise the chance to see Texas (2) v Boise St. (6) square off in the first round of the Western Regional?

The bowl structure is already there, it’s just a matter of what teams go where.

realityunwound on December 30, 2009 at 4:25 PM