Remember August, when the common wisdom was that COVID-19 would compel the NCAA to shutter college football, leaving us with an autumn and winter of watching Euro soccer? Yeah, I do. I also remember the Sun Belt, CUSA and the American (plus the Big 12, whatevs) bailing the NCAA out.
We said, “We’ll play!” And then we did. Athletes risked their health; fans did too. Programs hastily assembled guidelines and cobbled together make-do schedules. We occupied the ESPN and FOX slots normally reserved for the SEC, Big 10, Pac 12 and the ACC, and gifted them some pretty damn good content.
Meanwhile, the Privileged 5 (sans Big 12) sat on their fainting couches and chewed on their fingernails until they finally decided it was safe to get into the pool. Yeah, they wanted their TV slots back. But worst of all, they didn’t even have play their way into the polls: The AP and the Coach’s Polls blew our minds by ranking teams that hadn’t played a game all season – the stinkiest of bullshit.
We got The Shaft, fellas. We thought maybe the College Football Playoff Committee would see the G5’s good deeds and reward in kind. Nope! It was business as usual, with Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame – all hailing from conferences that only play each other this season – receiving gold stars. By way of compromise, the Committee tossed an unearned bone to Iowa State – the team bested by Louisiana during the SBC Big 12 Slaughter of 2020. To the Committee, that game just doesn’t count.
We got The Shaft, gang! We risked lawsuits and our health to entertain America, and the reaction was to rank undefeated Coastal Carolina number 13, without any hope of cracking the Top 10.
We got The Shaft again! Cincinnati is clearly worthy of a Playoff spot, but hey Ohio State has to eat first, right? Who cares if they’ve played fewer than half as many games as competing G5 programs? It’s the Buckeyes. They pass the eye test, am I right?
We got The Shaft, fellow suckers! We showed the Power Five how to play through COVID-19, and all we got in return was a pat on the head. We were the canary in the mind shaft; our reward for living was to be put back into our cage.
We got The Shaft, but we earned much more. Enjoy your boring-ass College Football Playoffs.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mathew Hinton