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Sunday, November 25, 2018

What A Sport

Oh, college football, you strange, magnificent, maddening, amazing creature.

A critical mass of fans just got done watching a game that went seven overtimes, with 91 points scored after the ultimately losing coach was doused in Gatorade prematurely.  In the stadium, Collin put it best:




Lacking the SEC Network, both in general and here in my hotel room in Baltimore, I "watched" via ESPN Gamecast and Twitter updates, hanging on every refresh. Nothing captivates like college football.

The sport is not without its idiosyncrasies. Unlike any other sport, nearly half of the teams will end their season with a win, thanks to the one-off nature of nearly every bowl game. And unlike any other sport, nearly half of the teams have no viable path to a championship, regardless of their own performance. The former fact is kinda cool. The latter is a travesty.

College football also provides the greatest opportunity for a financial disincentive for winning. Hypothetically, Texas A&M could have cost its conference millions by winning the game, likely knocking a now three loss, previously seventh ranked LSU down in the rankings. Realistically, they could still catch a New Year's Six spot, the void could be filled by a conferencemate like Florida, and even if not, the SEC is flush with cash anyhow. But consider: A week from now, Texas could end any hopes for a Big 12 spot in the Playoff by defeating Oklahoma. Or worse, Memphis could beat UCF, dropping them not only from the playoff spot they've got no chance at, but from the New Year's Six entirely, as the Mountain West champ would then likely be the highest ranked Group of Five champion. More than a decade ago, Pitt defeated West Virginia in the now-defunct Backyard Brawl to cost the Mountaineers a spot in the BCS championship game and the Big East the millions that came with that appearance and the only possibility for an appearance for the conference following the departure of Miami and Virginia Tech. In no other sport can one so directly work against their own self interest.

This sport, man.
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