I said earlier that college football evolved into its current state. However, this is a loaded statement. The word "evolution" is bandied about pretty easily these days, but it is rarely understood by anyone, especially paleontologists.
I was watching a special on one of those educational stations I enjoy so much and they were talking about the evolution of humans or dinosaurs or something like that. And as they talked, it occurred to me that one of the big problems with understanding evolution is understanding the fact that every step along the way must make sense. And the upshot of it is that the steps must open up new concepts that will cause new steps in unexpected directions. However, the direction is entirely invisible when looking at the small advance.
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For instance, pre-humans learned to walk upright in order to see above the grass while they were traveling between trees. By walking upright, they no longer needed their hands for locomotive purposes, allowing them to develop less rugged hands that allow for fine finger control.
Likewise, some form of smaller dinosaur developed arms that snapped together particularly fast, allowing them to catch prey with their hands. In order to perform that action, these dinosaurs developed strong muscles and longer arms that allowed them to make a motion very similar to the way a bird moves its wings in flight. Thus, the dinosaurs made another step that led them into evolving into birds. This, as we all know, is the fashionable idea in dinosaur science right now, subject to change in 5-50 years.
Here is the thing: there is no end result of evolution. It is small changes that create new forms that are, likewise, mutable. And these impermanent forms are going to disappear too. However, there are some false starts along the way, a few branches that peter out, but there is a continuous tree of creation and invention that spreads out from any given point.
College football evolved the way it did in reaction to its environment. It has never had a commissioner, it has never had an overarching leader, it has always been a loose amalgamation of teams and conferences. The NCAA regulates it, but it has surprisingly little control over what the teams actually do. In fact, the NCAA is there as a police force, not a dictatorship. However, college football is also a sport that is as old as professional baseball, as the first college football game and the first professional baseball team were both hallmarks of the year of 1869.
Now then, with that said, let us once again return to the present and the fact that college football has evolved into a very strange beast indeed. And many people say that all that bowl nonsense should be wiped away so that we can get a playoff system that makes sense. However, to say that is to dismiss the beauty of evolution's stupidity.
That's right, you read that correctly. People need gills and flippers. Why do I say this? Do you realize that some 400,000 people drown every year worldwide? That's a lot of people that die needlessly. If people had flippers, they would be able to swim much more effectively and if they had gills, they would be able to breathe underwater, preventing them from drowning. Anybody who wanted to prevent drowning deaths should put gills and flippers on people in order to prevent these needless deaths.
The reason that people do not have gills and flippers is that they need them only rarely. Even the most avid swimmer spends much more time on dry land than in the pool or the ocean. Drowning deaths are the exception more than the rule and people do not need to put more organs on their bodies and more skin between their fingers and toes. In fact, if people had flippers, they would not have the same level of fine finger control that allows them to easily create stone tools and microprocessors. Likewise, gills would just be an extra organ that is not used except in very rare occassions, which made it evolutionarily unneccessary. And, in fact, they are still almost entirely unneccessary, except in very rare instances.
This is very similiar to the playoff system and its idea for allowing more teams to play for the national title. The general argument goes along with the idea that USC and LSU didn't play in 2003 and Auburn got shut out in 2004. However, exceptions are, by definition, not rules and attempting to conform an overarching system to bizarre circumstances is no different than saying that people need gills and flippers because that is the only way to prevent drowning deaths.
Yes, the system is goofy, I will admit that. However, evolutionary change brings about excellent, if goofy solutions. For instance, let us say that you sat down to design a marine predator. How would you design it? I am willing to guess that you would design something very similar to a shark, wouldn't you? Sharp teeth, streamlined, not too big, can smell blood from miles away, cannot be repelled by any known means, a pure eating machine and, as an added bonus, never gets cancer. Now that's a good design, isn't it?
Now let us look at what you would not design. Let's get ridiculous. You would not design an animal that is over 100 feet long, weighs over 100 tons and, for the height of stupidity, eats something as small as plankton. Yet the largest animals in existence, blue whales, fit that very profile. However, if you put any thought into it, they have no business living. Why? Because they don't even breathe underwater! What idiot would be so stupid as to create a marine animal that can't breathe underwater? They would all drown!
My point with the whales is that they are just fine without gills. But college football playoff proponents are eager to put gills on the whale. Because nobody would design a gigantic marine animal that can't breathe underwater, playoff proponents are contending that we should either surgically implant gills on whales, or we should kill them all off because anything designed that stupidly should not survive.
Ultimately, the bowl system works for college because it has evolved into a very complex but very fascinating interlocked web of associations that has grown and evolved organically into its current form. And the bowl system is, in fact, very durable, very effective, and altogether excellent for college football.
However, there is still an idea that playoffs would be better for college football. Thus, we will address a college football playoff system and what it would mean for the sport.