I don’t watch American Idol. Let’s be clear about that. My wife watches it sometimes and it is on in the background fairly often as I work on the couch. However, my parents are in town and my mom is a huge fan. She has been to the Idol Stars© road show. Twice. So with them up from South Georgia, we watched American Idol tonight. Please don’t judge my mother.
Just so you are caught up, the selection process is pretty straightforward. Apparently, everyone who is unemployed and thinks they can sing line up for days at a time outside of a Ramada Limited in such places as Cincinnati and Casper. One at a time, these people are paraded in front of a panel of judges. Those judges are doing a Coke commercial. Every fifty-seventh one is chosen to go to Hollywood. Several people who were dressed by Boy George’s personal stylist are rejected. These people are made fun of on TV. In Hollywood, those selected are then made part of a commercial for more Coke, as well as Sears, AT&T, several brands of hair product and one particularly good dentist in California. A group of twelve are chosen via feats of strength and group sings. There are elections by the populace to chose this group of twelve. The other group of twelve are chosen as *wildcards* and sent to fill out the bracket of 24 by the judges based on their professional opinion, many years of playing bass in Journey and a couple of bulimia scares. Then the really important part starts when that group of 24 competes against each other with one person left standing as the American Idol.
So American Idol got me thinking, isn’t this how a college football playoff selection process is going to end up working? At some point, a large group of teams will be chosen because someone just by God believes those teams deserve to be in a playoff with no objective way of saying why. Whether those people are the ‘experts’ of college football, such as AD’s or the unwashed masses, such as pundits, the public or *gasp* bloggers, the process itself isn’t going to serve any more to name a real (emphasis added for effect, I personally think there can be more than one) champion than a process that uses a glorified magic eight ball and fancy trigonometry to put two teams in a championship game. A plus one game doesn’t do anything more than add another game to a season. A four, eight, twelve or sixteen team playoff won’t answer that question either because the question isn’t really who is the national champion. That isn’t to say the BCS is good or bad, but it does more than the old bowl system ever could.
The question still and always will remain “Who deserves to be in the championship game?” In a world where there is such disparity between how conferences chose champions, disparity in schedules because the teams get to essentially chose at least 1/3 of their games, and disparity in how teams are covered (or put another way, disparity in who cares that any one team is covered), there will never be a real national champion following the definition pundits and others cry about.
So, would you rather have an American Idol selection process, where the regular season ends up being little more than funny filler and a chance to make fun of Oregon’s uniforms until we get to the important part? I wouldn’t.