Nothing has discouraged me more than football scheduling problems blamed on the Football Playoffs. What was heralded by coaches and administrators alike as the solution to assuring all deserving teams would qualify for the playoffs is now being cited for exacerbating scheduling problems.
In my opinion – no secret since I’ve said it before – significant expansion of the Football Playoffs is not wise. It is philosophically misdirected; and most models for doing so are physically harmful, or potentially so, for participants.
The playoffs are not broken. Ours is an excellent system that works very well for a state as large and diverse as ours, in a November climate as unpredictable and often inhospitable as ours. Those who assert that because all-comers tournaments work in every other sport it can also work in football, overlook critical differences between football and all other sports – a collision, not merely contact sport – with 625 teams, played outdoors!
It is a non-starter to extend the playoffs a week later. This is Michigan! And global warming aside, we are not ready for outdoor football at Semifinal sites on Thanksgiving weekend, nor the following weekend, because Ford Field would not be available to host us in its warmth every other year. Furthermore, conducting the two-day Finals a week later would conflict with school and jobs, now avoided by utilizing Thanksgiving weekend.
With the mandated post-Labor Day start to classes, it is equally unpalatable to begin the football season a week earlier and play three games before Labor Day in many years.
Nor is it advisable to play two playoff games a week: it’s not good for kids, and the few states that do so have long talked about ways to change that.
Reducing the regular season to eight games and extending the playoffs from five weeks with 256 teams to six weeks with 512 teams has not been supported in votes of coaches or administrators. Among many criticisms is that this would more than double terrible mismatches. Almost one of every four games in the first three rounds of the 2009 playoffs had running clocks in the second half. How much worse would it be with 2-7 teams playing 7-2, 8-1 and 9-0 teams?
There is no doubt we can double the playoffs or design an all-comers format. There is much doubt that it is a good idea.