On Friday, the Bowl Championship Series responded to a new ESPN The Magazine poll of college football players by pretending as though the poll’s most significant finding – that most college football players want a playoff — doesn’t even matter. The BCS is linking to their press release by claiming, “Athletes support current postseason system,” even though the ESPN poll definitively shows that players want a playoff.
ESPN surveyed 135 players from across the country – 72 from BCS schools and 63 from non-BCS schools – and asked them, “Do you want a playoff?” 62.2% of the players said yes, they favor a college football playoff. (61.1% of BCS players support a playoff, as do 63.5% of non-BCS players.)
Clearly, college football players want a playoff.
The support for a playoff, however, breaks down when it comes to how exactly a playoff would work – and what it would mean for bowl games. The majority of players would rather have the current system than a 16-team playoff and would rather go to three bowl games in their career than one playoff trip. (This latter question seems a bit arbitrary.)
These results aren’t surprising. Basically, players don’t want a playoff to mean that they themselves don’t get to compete in the postseason.
But there’s no reason that college football can’t have a playoff and bowl games. One Big Ten “defensive standout” told ESPN: “I’ve got the perfect solution. Take the top 16 ranked teams in the country and play it off like the World Cup. Take the next 24 teams with winning records and put them in bowl games.”
Had ESPN asked whether players favored a system with a playoff and bowl games, there would have probably been overwhelming support.
But that’s not what we have now.
No matter how hard the BCS tries to spin these results, the fact remains that college football players – and fans – support a playoff.
Brian Frederick is the Executive Director of Sports Fans Coalition. He holds a Ph.D. in Communication and lives in Washington, D.C. His favorite teams are the Kansas Jayhawks, North Carolina Tar Heels, and whichever team his brother is coaching for. And the underdog. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org