When who spend a lot of time around the influence industry in Washington, you learn pretty quickly that the release of a "white paper" by a lobbying group should put you on red alert.
To be fair, many of these analyses are well-researched, comprehensive articulations of the position for or against Name Your Cause.
Far too often, though, the strategy consultants build a straw man for their cadre of "experts" to tear down with ivory tower-ish mumbo jumbo. All that rigorous analysis typically yields a document that sounds like the nail in the opposition's coffin – especially to the client. That is until someone takes a couple minutes to actually think about what the report says.
Homerism will leave it up to his loyal readers to decide where to put this little nugget from law firm Arent Fox, which represents Boise State and the Mountain West Conference, on the "myth" behind the BCS. Personally, I think the distinguished gentleman from Georgia does a pretty nice job eviscerating the argument being put forward by these legal eagles, but allow me to pile on.
AF concludes that without a playoff system in D-I college football, fewer games have any direct bearing on determining the national champion. Thus, a playoff would improve the regular season by giving more weight to more games.
To understand the greatest flaw in this argument, think about the experience of watching a mystery movie – we'll call our hypothetical flick Someone Stole Some Shit. It becomes clear about five minutes into the movie that one of five dudes stole the shit in question: Mack, Bob, Lane, Urban or Nick. You spend the next 90 minutes figuring out that Mack, a seemingly benevolent old gray-haired geezer, is actually a scheming, cut-throat SOB who did, in fact, steal the shit.
(Loosely based on Glengarry Glen Ross.)
After the fact, armed with the knowledge of the culprit's identity, you could go back through and parse out the 15 minutes of plot developments that led to the film's ultimate conclusion. If we concede that only those short snippets count, does that mean that the other 80 minutes were worthless?
What's ultimately compelling for the viewer is experiencing how the pieces come together, not what the puzzle looks like at the end.
AF would have you believe that what makes a regular season great is the sum total of games that it deems to have a direct impact on determining the national champion. Under that rubric, a playoff beats the current system easily in terms of meaningful regular season games. And, yes, the BCS slogan that "every game counts" is a giant myth.
However, a greater number of meaningful games doesn't mean that the games themselves have greater meaning.
One thing that makes the college football regular season the best in sports is that teams' fates are interconnected, and any week can be a poison pill for your favorite squad – or your rivals. As an Oklahoma fan, for instance, I'm watching Alabama and Boise State every week, praying to see them lose.
If there's a playoff waiting at the end of the regular season, though, am I really that concerned as to whether Oregon State has any shot at knocking off the Broncos this weekend?
Credit the influence peddlers for illustrating the fallacy underlying an advertising slogan, which is a little bit like doing a geometric proof. Unfortunately, all that hard work doesn't do anything to improve the sport.