Brad Rock: College Football Playoff already needs a makeover
It makes sense that the people who took 20 years to organize a college football playoff would also have trouble naming it. So they decided to punt.
The name of the new four-team event, following the 2014 season, will be — ta-dah! — "College Football Playoff."
That's it, as plain as a saltine cracker.
"We decided to call the playoff what it is — the College Football Playoff," director Bill Hancock announced last week. "We think the new playoff will be the most dynamic improvement to college football in a generation. Certainly it's what the fans want."
Apparently those fans also want something simple they can remember, like "yield" and "road closed." One-hundred-thirty-three years in the making, and this is the best the playoff people can do?
Clearly they didn't seek much public input — which is kind of how the Bowl Championship Series operated. Maybe that's because it is the old BCS, wearing a fake mustache and glasses.
This new playoff deal actually would have worked better if they'd just named it "A Couple of Football Games."
Here is how the conversation must have gone:
Director: "I think we're all in agreement, ladies and gentlemen. We'll have a college football playoff. What should we call it?"
Conference Commissioner: "Um, well, we could call it the 'College Football Playoff.' "
Director: "Splendid! Absolutely brilliant! Let's put it to a vote. All in favor say aye."
After years of debate over which teams deserve to play in the national championship, a plan was hatched a few years ago to pit Nos. 1 and 2. That was called the BCS National Championship. Clever. Eventually they decided a playoff was logical and voted on a four-team configuration, which will culminate in the title game on Jan. 12, 2015.
The important thing is that they're actually having a playoff. On the downside, sports people in general seem to lack imagination. For instance, the Super Bowl. That's a terrible name. Yet that was an upgrade from the original name: "AFL-NFL World Championship Game."
The term "NBA Finals" doesn't exactly set the house afire, either.
Final Four is so-so, but even that idea had to come from a sports writer — and most sports writers are notoriously unimaginative.
Baseball gets a passing grade based solely on its long World Series tradition. Lower-level playoff series don't say much (ALDS, NLDS), but they don't often matter all that much. Same with division series in other sports.
The Stanley Cup is a great playoff name, though you have to wonder if it was really named after Lord Stanley, or somebody's uncle. It might have just as easily been the Ralph Cup.
What college football needs is a playoff name with character, like the Masters. (And to think, the golf people actually named it in less time than it took to grow the trees.)
The CFP people should be so forward thinking.
Soccer's MLS Cup is OK, but only because adding "cup" to anything makes it somewhat better (World Cup, America's Cup, Ryder Cup, hiccup.) The "Grand Slams" of tennis and golf are descriptive and intriguing.
Then there are the college playoff people. If they had been in charge of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" it would have been called "Another Television Game Show."
Maybe they just need encouragement. Instead of calling it the College Football Playoff, they could call it "The Playoffs Formerly Known as BCS."
Rather than the Super Bowl, the NFL could call it the "Midwinter Gridiron Classic." The NBA Finals could become "The Bill Russell Cup," seeing how he pretty much invented the NBA Finals anyway.
It has been suggested the colleges call their final event the "Football Four." Not great, but it's as good as the Final Four. Only problem is that it implies the playoff will never grow.
How about the "Great American Football Summit?" or "Bo Jackson's Revenge?"
OK, that might be a little silly, but surely they could spice things up.
The point is that they avoid calling it what they are: the College Football Playoff.
Because we already know that.
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