Especially at a level that is still supposed to be amateur, calling any game that doesn't influence some "national championship" ipso facto "meaningless" seems awfully bleak.
Hi Stewart, this quote from your TCU Rose Bowl column sums up my feelings about all the ink that has been spilled about the injustice of the BCS system:
"I don't really care about the national championship right now," said standout (TCU) defensive end Wayne Daniels. "I'm living in the moment. ... I'd say we're pretty good."
I realize that college football has morphed into the Junior NFL (except that everyone but the players get rich), but I think the goal is and should be to win your conference championship and then go play in a great postseason game in some warm location. They still give out trophies for winning those games. Forget computers and pollsters trying to match the true No. 1 and No. 2, and forget a playoff. I wish everyone else would stop complaining.
-- Eric, Columbus, Ohio
Eric is part of a small and increasingly drowned-out minority, but my personal views are closer to his than to those of the rabid anti-bowl, playoffs-now crowd. The most interesting part of covering TCU's Rose Bowl win was that it reinforced for me the gaping disconnect between the sentiment of fans and the actual participants when it comes to the playoff debate. You'd think the Horned Frogs would be the most outraged at being denied the chance to play for a national title, but not a single coach or player expressed anything other than sheer joy after the game. And I've found that to be the case with nearly every player from every bowl team with whom I've dealt.
Personally, I think TCU should get that title shot, and under The Mandel Plan it would. But it amuses me to no end when I hear fans deride the bowls as "meaningless," considering just how emotional the players get about winning and losing them. (Did you see Wisconsin star J.J. Watt break down on the podium afterward?) At the end of the day, the obsession with determining an absolute clear-cut national champion in college football is far more prevalent among fans and media than coaches and players. We want to be entertained. We want more football. We want a more climactic finish to the season. But we don't particularly seem to care what the coaches and players themselves want.