Commentary: Desmond Howard Isn’t Sure Playoff Is Better Option

ESPN analyst wants to see if championship series next season will be better than BCS.

Posted: 01/03/2014 04:04 PM EST
Filed Under Sports News, Football, BCS

Desmond Howard isn’t necessarily ready to bemoan the impending death of the Bowl Championship Series, but Howard, a College Game Day analyst for ESPN, isn’t ready now to toast what will replace it.

While he understands the reason some people have lobbied hard for a playoff, Howard wonders aloud if the four-team playoff they will get next season will prove better than what the BCS has produced.

“I never had a problem with most of the BCS match ups,” he said Friday in a phone interview. “Were people really that dissatisfied?”

Well, yeah … a lot were. For sports fans are a group of grumps. They complain first and look for answers later. They love certainty, which is why college football games don’t end in ties anymore. One team will win each game; it’s a drop-dead certainty.

The grumps can’t fuss too much about any uncertainty from this last BCS game, which will be played Monday night in the Rose Bowl. The game features the clear No. 1 and No. 2 teams in college football; it pits the most dominant team in college football this season (Florida State and its Heisman Trophy-winning QB Jameis Winston) against the hottest team (Auburn).

This BCS finale will give fans another undisputed national champion.

So how can anybody claim the BCS system didn’t work?

Howard, 43, pointed out that even under the new system next season, nobody can be sure the best four teams in the country will get picked.

He is right, of course. This decades long campaign for more and more certainty — for a clear champion when, in most seasons, the best football team was clear — made little sense.

Can you argue that Alabama wasn’t the best in the country last season?

How about the champion in 2012?

What all of this playoff stuff will translate into is more money for college football — more money to pay coaches; more money to build glitzy training facilities; and more money for athletic programs to pocket.

None of this trickle-down economics, however, will benefit student/athletes, whom Howard, the former Heisman winner from Michigan, has long argued should get paid as everyone else is.

He is right here, too. It is, after all, their sweat and grit and bodies that are being used to enrich somebody else. They are the entertainment, not those rock star coaches or elite academic institutions.

Who would spend a dime to watch them?

But Howard offered no formula for paying student-athletes; he did suggest that the NCAA commission a study to determination how, if possible, some money from the three-playoff games, which will generate $480 million, could go to those on the playing field.

Starting next season, he said football fans who cried for certainty might have more of it, even if certainty comes on the backs of student/athletes who will have to give more than they ever have.

Is it a fair price for a student-athlete to pay?

Howard would say no.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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Follow Justice B. Hill on Twitter: @jbernardh

(Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for UP2U Gum)

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