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Georgia General Assembly Wastes Time, Chooses Wrong Side

I recently have been accused of writing what "may be the dumbest thing you'll read all day" and demonstrating that "critical thinking isn't required to be a Dawg blogger," although, fortunately, the sting of those charges was lessened by a more thoughtful retort offered in reply to a posting (or two) of mine.

However, as noted by Senator Blutarsky, this is, in fact, the dumbest thing you'll read all day:

The Georgia House voted 151-9 Friday in favor of a resolution urging the NCAA to create a playoff system for college football.

"The only major sporting event without a playoff system to identify its true champion that I know of is NCAA Division 1 football," said state Rep. Quincy Murphy, D-Augusta. . . .

The resolution, which now goes to the Senate, calls the BCS system "the greatest disappointment of the 2007 college football season."

"The only sensible way to determine a national champion in any sport is to develop a playoff system that allows teams to meet on the field," the resolution reads. "The fans of college football deserve a true national champion to be crowned after winning the title on the field of play and not in a popularity poll."

House lawmakers had expected the resolution would inspire more discussion.

"When you think about the economic impact of collegiate sports, we're talking about multimillion dollars," said state Rep. Joe Wilkinson, a Sandy Springs Republican. "And from that standpoint, it's worth 10 minutes."

(Scoreboard, I told you I was only giving you the last word for the duration of the last round!)

I am always torn when it comes to stupid symbolic gestures by government. On the one hand, I have virtually no faith in the ability of government to do anything good or anything well---sorry, Doug---so any time government wastes on useless fluff is time well spent, because it's time government isn't spending making a hash of the commonweal. On the other hand, if government is going to waste its efforts on mere whimsy, it at least ought not to appear childish and idiotic in the process.

Quincy Murphy, Joe Wilkinson, and 149 other members of the Georgia House of Representatives (all of whom, incidentally, hold their offices by virtue of having finished first "in a popularity poll") cast a vote that was petty and wrong. They ought to be ashamed of themselves . . . and I hope I can count on Jason Pye to provide us with the names of the nine representatives who voted like responsible adults rather than like children who want to take their ball and go home. (Here's a tip for the House of Representatives: any time you're following Michael Adams's lead when it comes to a symbolic gesture, you're on the wrong road.)

As more and more Georgians---or, at least, more and more Georgians with cool-sounding official titles which fail to mask their utter fatuousness---swing toward the wrong side of this debate, the lack of advisability of a playoff (which I have always opposed) becomes more and more apparent. Consider a few recent observations by a steadfast playoff proponent for whom I have the utmost respect, Sunday Morning Quarterback, who possessed the admirable intellectual integrity to pause from pounding the pro-playoff nail long enough to write the following regarding this weekend's Super Bowl:

[W]ith Green Bay, a team that would have entered the Bowl of an Extreme or Excessive Degree as a division champion with a 15-3 record that tied for the best in its conference, there would have been few eyebrows raised to the legitimacy of the process if the Packers managed to upset New England.

Not so the Giants. Under no criteria can New York's season, one that ended with NY three full games behind the winner of its own division, with six reglar season losses - the last of those defeats to New England - be described as "better" than the Patriots'. New York beat three NFC division champions on the road, including both of the top two seeds, but the argument about the "best team," if it wasn't over a month ago, is certainly finished now. This is not like Pittsburgh's wild card run in 2005, when the Steelers finished the playoffs with the same number of wins as every team ranked in front of them at their start; ditto the Broncos in 1997. The Patriots have been something else, which can't be accounted for. If the NFL decided anything by polls, New England right now would take first, second and third place, just to accurately represent the distance. But it still has a chance, after clearly the greatest single season performance in league history, to not be the champion. . . .

[N]o two teams as far apart in accomplishment as the Giants and Patriots should be competing for the same trophy. New York finished tied with a half dozen other outfits for the seventh-best record out of 32 teams, meaning roughly 18.75 percent of the league had a better regular season; compared to Division I-A, that's the equivalent of the No. 22 or 23 team in the nation making the championship (last year, according to the BCS standings that would have been 9-3 Cincinnati or 8-4 Auburn).

Noting the narrative of invincibility being crafted around Louisiana State's 2007 championship season, SMQ offered an opinion that applies equally as well to the notion of honoring as a "true national champion" (as opposed to one of those "mythical" ones determined by an N.C.A.A.-sanctioned system that antedates the Division I-AA football playoffs by four decades) a team with a pedigree as poor as the Giants' would be:
A blocked kick and a big hit: behold the dominance of these two snaps and quake in fear of your conquerers, conference that has produced zero repeat champions in the last nine seasons. Heed not the thousands of plays that make up the whole, do not contemplate that whole's place in history, ignore similarly "dominant" images by Ohio State (I can think of three off the top of my head, the obvious one by Chris Wells and a couple others by Vernon Gholston, which do not count) and especially those made by Arkansas and Kentucky, or any others that fail to align with the omnipotent wisdom of the result. There is only the result, and the result is not simple victory but dominance.

I concur; when "[t]here is only the result," eye-rollingly absurd outcomes occur, leaving teams to trust in the benefits of regular-season defeats.

What about "the greatest disappointment of the 2007 college football season," the Bowl Championship Series? SMQ, who doesn't miss much, has the answer to that, too:

[R]atings were way, way down, to their lowest numbers since the Series' popularity peaked a decade ago. The only BCS game that showed an increase from 2006 viewership (which was also down from 2005, though to a lesser extent than this year's drop) was the Orange, which also happened to be the only one of the five that was still in doubt in the fourth quarter. . . . [A]ccording to Jon Solomon's account of the numbers in the Birmingham News, 51 percent of viewers in a Nielsen poll favored a playoff.

Think about that last datum for a moment. Four out of five B.C.S. bowl games were uncompetitive, bordering on or actually becoming outright blowouts. Ratings were down. Dissatisfaction was high. Playoff proposals, first floated by a college president in a major conference last year, began to be floated by another college president in the same major conference as the bowl season concluded. Playoff mania reigned in the heated aftermath of major bowl games that were 80 per cent bad, and, in the midst of this groundswell of opposition to the century-old traditions of the game . . . fans remained virtually evenly divided on the question of support for a playoff.

I am on record with my belief that government and football may intersect to the betterment of the former without diminishing the latter. This, though, is not one of those occasions. If Representatives Murphy and Wilkinson, and their colleagues in this embarrassing example of bipartisan foolishness, want to squander valuable time that is supposed to be devoted to the people's business on purely symbolic silliness related to sports, they would do better to devote a resolution to the sublime slice of sheer fineness that is Erin Andrews. I'll bet they could get better than a 51 per cent majority on that one.

Go 'Dawgs!