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.