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Dispatches: Talking Football With SMQ, Part 2

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The following is the second volley in a series of back-and-forth dispatches between the venerable Sunday Morning Quarterback and I. The dispatches will be a running conversation that you're encouraged to participate in. Your comments, to be read diligently by each of us, promise to be an integral part of the conversation.

In my opening dispatch, I queried SMQ on how to sort out the top teams. In response, SMQ waxed philosophical on the rather arbitrary nature of the way we conceptualize "better," among other things. You're encouraged to read the preceding dispatches before continuing on.


Ah, semantics. A favorite subject of yours, no doubt, SMQ. I always chuckle when I read your work while envisioning your grammar school teachers grading your papers, thinking, "Jesus, SMQ. I just wanted to know about your summer vacation. Who said anything about Descartes? And ten pages, no less!"

Now, I do want to come back to the resume ranking methodology - a favorite subject of mine - but let's start with something that leapt out at me in reading your dispatch: If SMQ is the playoff proponent that he claims to be (and we have no reason to think otherwise) should SMQ be rooting for the following?

  1. Arkansas defeats Florida in SEC Title Game
  2. UCLA defeats USC
  3. Michigan is ushered into the mythical title game
  4. Michigan wins mythical title game
This unfortunate scenario, surely, would be the result most likely to result in the greatest amount of BCS-inspired teeth-gnashing.

But then as I thought through that a little bit more, I realized that raised a very legitimate objection, so allow me to play devil's advocate.

SMQ, you say that a Michigan-Ohio State rematch is undesirable because a Michigan victory would invalidate the result of the first game. But isn't this precisely what playoff objectors worry so much about? Say, for example, that this year featured a four-team playoff. And that #1 seed Ohio State defeated #4 seed Florida, while #2 seed USC lost to #3 seed Michigan. Here we are again, stuck at the undesirable result (Michigan-Ohio State rematch), with a potential invalidation of the first result? Haven't we just dulled the knife's edge - so to speak - that is regular season college football? And aren't rematches likely to pop up frequently in playoffs, resulting in a slow, torturous watering down of the excitement of the regular season clashes?

So goes the counter-argument.  I didn't intend to open the playoff can of works just yet, but here we are. What do you think?

--PB--