' ' Cinema Romantico: A Digression: An Open Letter To President-Elect Obama

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Digression: An Open Letter To President-Elect Obama

Dear Mr. President-Elect,

I like you. I respect you. I support you. I think you will do a fantastic job as our nation's President. You seem to be a nice, thoughtful, genuine person. However, there is one notable concern I have in regards to you.

You have gone on record as supporting a playoff for college football and you are quoted as saying, "I don't know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this."

Oh, really? "Serious fan", you say? Are you saying that I'm not a "serious fan" and you are?

Very well, Mr. President-Elect, can you tell me the sport's longest rivalry? (Hint: It doesn't involve the university where you attended law school.) Can you tell me what player holds the NCAA record for most passes caught in a single season? Can you?

Can you tell me, Mr. President-Elect, the oldest bowl game aside from the Big Four? (I'm just assuming you know the Big Four, what when considering you're such a "serious fan".) Can you tell me the last defensive player, other than Charles Woodson, to win the Heisman Trophy? (Don't ask an aide! Don't look at your laptop! Tell me off the top of your head!) Heck, you're from Illinois so tell me the starting quarterback for Illinois the last time they won the Big 10. You do know the last time Illinois won the Big 10. Right? Right?

Did you know that the Oklahoma/Nebraska game of 1971 was played on the last weekend of the season? Did you know that both teams would have qualified for the playoff, what when you consider they were ranked #1 and #2? Did you know that it is generally regarded as the greatest college football game of all time? So I guess, Mr. President-Elect, using the NFL as our model and how teams already qualified for the playoffs usually rest their best players in the final games of the season, a playoff for college football would have cost us this contest.

Not to mention, Mr. President-Elect, we would have lost the drama of two other so-called "Games of the Century, #1 UCLA and #2 USC in 1967 (as well as UCLA's improbable 13-9 win over USC two years ago, one of the more kinetic upsets of recent times) and #1 Texas and #2 Arkansas in 1969. We would have lost Michigan's Tim Biakabutuka carving up undefeated Ohio State for 313 rushing yards in 1995 because the outcome would not have mattered to the Buckeyes. And that means, Mr. President-Elect, we would have lost the greatest individual effort I have ever witnessed since my inception of college football fandom. Can you please, please, please think about that for one freaking second?!

Do you realize, Mr. President-Elect, that with a playoff in all likelihood Oklahoma and Boise State would not have played at the end of the 2006 season? (How do I think this? Because if you simply go by the "expert" systems posited by all these playoff proponents wherein you take the top 8 or top 16 teams the rankings of Oklahoma and Boise State in all polls do not coincide for a first round pairing. Oops!) And that if they had not played we would have been denied the hook & lateral and the "statue of liberty" and the Boise State player proposing to his cheerleader girlfriend? That we would have been denied what a whole lot of people have called one of the greatest games ever played? Do you realize that? My God, does anyone?

Did you know, Mr. President-Elect, that in its very first game of 2004-05 college basketball season the University of North Carolina, who would go on to win that year's National Championship, were stunned by the University of Santa Clara? Nope. Bet you didn't know.

But I bet you do know, Mr. President-Elect, that Appalachian State stunned Michigan in their very first game last year in arguably college football's greatest upset of all time. Do you know why you remember the latter and not the former? Because, Mr. President-Elect, in college football every game matters, and every game matters because there isn't a playoff.

It's why, Mr. President-Elect, perhaps the hardest hitting game contested since players wore leather helmets without facemasks occurred in September 2006 between Auburn and LSU. The loser was out of the national championship race. It was essentially a playoff game....in the first month of the season. It's why college football has contested its de facto national championship games in September (Florida State/Miami in 1987) and in October (Notre Dame/Miami in 1988) and in November (the three aforementioned Games of the Century). It's why I stayed up past my bedtime on a school night back in September (while you were probably too busy "campaigning" to watch) to witness Oregon State upset USC. The game meant something and would have meant nothing with a playoff. College football shouldn't require one massive, overhyped spectacle that often is more about the commercials than the play on the field to decide its champion when its biggest game can most literally come anytime, anywhere.

I also really hope, Mr. President-Elect, that you don't feel college football needs a playoff because - as every pedantic sportswriter will so "astutely" tell you - that's how every other sport does it. I really, really hope that's not what you think. I mean, I know you're about change, but you're not about conformity. Are you? Are you?

It's why, Mr. President-Elect, in November 1993 we could go from #2 Notre Dame defeating #1 Florida State one week to underdog Boston College upsetting #1 Notre Dame the next week to me nearly weeping into the cheese & crackers my father served up as the final seconds ticked off in Nebraska's 21-7 win over Oklahoma earning them a chance to play for the national championship in the Orange Bowl the week after that. Every other sport may have a playoff, but every other sport does not, in any way, shape, or form have the week-to-week drama of college football. Or, in the words of Chuck Klosterman, Mr. President-Elect, "How, exactly, are three exciting weekends in December better than four or five months of weekly sweeping consequence?"

Let me guess, Mr. President-Elect, you were one of the cool kids in school, weren't you? Well, consider college football the band geek of school, okay? (Especially when you take into account the prominent use of marching bands in the sport.) Ever seen one of those movies, Mr. President-Elect, where one cool kid bets another cool kid that he can't transform the band geek into the prom queen? Well, all the cool kids no one really likes (i.e. pedantic sportswriters who couldn't name more than one wide receiver the Texas Tech QB threw to all year and part-time college football fans) constantly feel the need to try and gussy up the band geek (i.e. real, passionate college football fans) who never wanted to be gussied up in the first place. And what tends to happen if the gussying up takes place? The cool kid sees the band geek for who she really is, that's what. So once people gussy up college football with a playoff it's inevitable they will see the sport for what it really is and that it never really asked to be changed in the first place, except then it won't be able to go back to the way it was and, thus, it will become a cookie-cutter sport. A mirror image of everything else. We have our own unique idenity, see, and we don't mind being different. Perhaps then, Mr. President-Elect, you should stay at your lunch table and we'll stay at ours.

In closing, Mr. President-Elect, I ask, with all due respect, and I truly, deeply mean with all due respect, that when it comes strictly to the subject of college football and a playoff, please shut the hell up.

Nicholas Prigge


Rory Larry said...

Technically he didn't say he was a serious fan, he said no serious fan he has talked to disagrees. The veracity of that claim of course is unverified.

Nick Prigge said...

If he didn't say he was a serious fan - and, as you point out, it appears he didn't - than that just means even MORE strenuously that in relation to this subject and, again, this subject only, he needs to go away.

I'm not a serious student of, say, offshore drilling so I keep my mouth shut and stay out of it.