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Morning Coffee Loves Unforgettable Championships

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Waco aftermath. Kirk Bohls has a solid post-Baylor recap column which touches on a lot of the big points of Texas' huge 80-72 win on Saturday. One point which Andrew noted as well is that this Texas team continues to limp along from the free throw line, missing 10+ free throws for the second straight game and sixth time on the season.

Good bye, football. The end of college football season is a special kind of sad, but the pro game does a decent job of softening the landing. At least this year we were treated to a thrilling Super Bowl. And to such a great story.

First, there's New York, Eli Manning, not-Tiki Barber, that catch by Tyree, and... Tom Coughlin? Talk about a storybook season.

And then, of course, New England. This loss? Karma. The Pats just had this one coming. The Trojan-esque talk of their immortality. 19-0 t-shirts. Columnists wondering (aloud!) about their place in the pantheon of Boston greatness. And maybe more than anything else, the fanbase: a big, obnoxious core, with an outer ring of bandwagoneers. Oh so ironically, they'd become the New York Yankees of football.

And yes, Pats fans: the rest of us were damn happy to see the Evil Empire lose.

Don't put words in my mouth. As a proponent of a playoff for college football, I'm not looking forward to the anti-playoff crowd telling me that this year's Super Bowl is a reason I should not want one for college football. Let me just get a couple of my counterpoints on the record now:

Did the 'best' team win the championship? No, if you're asking who had the best regular season. But does that delegitimize New York's championship in any way? Not especially. New York won three games on the road, then another on a neutral field. They're anything but undeserving, in that context. (You could make an argument that a playoff field shouldn't include New York at all and I wouldn't necessarily object, but that's a different story.)

But more than all that, it's an uninspiring analogy. NFL teams practically play a round robin; by the time the regular season is complete, you can pretty fairly evaluate who the top two teams are. A playoff advocate wouldn't have much to gripe about had New England and Dallas been pitted in a winner-take-all at the conclusion of the regular season. Dallas beat Green Bay straight up in the regular season, after all. And New England beat everyone, including their nearest competitors in the AFC, the Colts.

That's of course not the case in college football, where the top competitors for 'best team' in all likelihood have not played one another. How do we compare two-loss LSU and two-loss USC? No straight up competition. No common opponents. Just an arbitrary calculus with imcomplete input and a meaningless output: namely, LSU's better.

What's the downside? The playoff haters purport to worry about the meaningfulness of the regular season, but for the life of me, I cannot get this argument. If you take the number of games which become "meaningless" (because, presumably, one team has already locked itself into a playoff berth), and the number of games which have added import (because one or both teams are fighting for a playoff berth), I'm certain you'll find far more of the latter.

Unforgettable. The one bit of Bill Simmons' 'Whoops' column that stood out to me?

And watching [Giants] fans celebrate afterward, a small part of me actually felt happy for them. Envious, even. It's one thing to win a championship ... it's another to win a championship like that. You can't possibly understand unless it happens to you.

It's true. Winning championships is exciting no matter what; winning a championship in a game like that is something else altogether.

--PB--