In January, Ohio State beat Oregon in the first College Football Playoff, and 33 million people watched it on TV. Now, 33 million is a lot of Twitter followers or people to make brunch for, but it’s not an amazing amount of people to watch a TV show. More than 900 million people watched the 2014 World Cup final, and a billion people watched a cricket match in February. For God’s sake, 77 million people watched the last episode of Cheers.
The thing is, there are seven billion people on Planet Earth, and almost seven billion of them do not watch college football. They watch other things, boring and stupid things, like handball and sitcoms and the news. These people are not like us. We will call them The Differents.
The Differents do not care about college football. Many of them haven’t even heard of it. Now, this does not mean that college football is not awesome. It just means that The Differents live incomplete and aimless lives.
It also means, though, that college football is not that important to the world. It does not have a noble purpose. We do college football for one reason: because it’s fun. That’s all, and that’s enough.
So when thinking about tweaks to college football, there is only one question that matters: What would make college football more fun?
1. Make college football bigger
Last year, we were given the Playoff, and we worried about it very much. A selection committee was formed, and it included a former Secretary of State (that is not a joke). Each week we tuned in to a Very Important Television Show in which the top 25 contenders for the four Playoff slots were slowly unveiled (also not a joke). Kirk Herbstreit talked for a while.
We believed the Playoff mattered very much to the world, even though the seven billion Differents couldn’t tell a Longhorn from a lawn dart or a Seminole from a criminal (OK bad example). But there is one reason to have a Playoff: because it’s fun.
And after studying the format this summer, I have invented something that would be even more fun than a four-team Playoff: an eight-team Playoff.
Now, there are people who say that an eight-team Playoff would just be too much and wouldn’t be fair to the players. They believe a season with about 868 FBS games is much more reasonable than one with about 872 games would be, and also that the four teams who are left out of the current format are pleased to get back some valuable study time.
There are also people who say that an eight-team Playoff wouldn’t be more fair, because the ninth team would just get screwed like the fifth team gets screwed now. This is a silly thing to say, but they say it anyway. These are people who don’t buy a spare tube of toothpaste because they might lose it or a second pair of shoes because one might catch on fire.
The main reason we need to expand the Playoff to eight is to usher in The Greatest Day. The Greatest Day doesn’t exist, but some day it will, and we will wonder how we lived without it, like the days before Wi-Fi or Uber or Cool Ranch Doritos. The Greatest Day will be the Saturday on which the FBS quarterfinals are played. It will begin at 11 a.m. and end around midnight. Four of the most intense games will be played back-to-back-to-back-to-back, creating extreme fun.
It will be so fun that you will barely be able to move or eat or talk or drink (just kidding). It will be better than any day of March Madness. You would have to cancel all of your plans, except only The Differents would schedule plans on The Greatest Day in the first place.
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2. Make college football happier
We do college football because it is fun, but there is an unexplainable thing. When the players act like they are having too much fun, they are punished.
The fans eat and drink for hours before stumbling into the stadium to scream and eat and drink, but if the players on the field have "excessive celebrations," they are publicly shamed with a 15-yard penalty, as if celebrating after a fun play in a game on a sunny Saturday in front of their friends and cheerleaders and marching bands is something that must be stopped.
Imagine you are a punter. You are small and weak but sneaky fast.
Your coach calls a punt fake, which means he wants you to run the ball past sweaty men who will be angry at you for this trick. So you do as you are told, and somehow you dive past the first down marker. Your fans erupt and scream and hug and fall down the stairs. You have never done this before, and so you jump and scream and toss the ball in the air and OH YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE DONE THAT.
A yellow flag flies and everyone becomes quiet. You feel shame, because you have celebrated in an excessive way.
Like with most dumb rules, we don’t really know why we have the excessive celebration thing. Maybe it was because celebrations make the other team mad. But we have a word for people who get mad when others are happy; we call them assholes.
We do college football because it is fun. When players on our team have fun, it feels even more fun. But when we see our players celebrate, it makes us nervous. And that is stupid.
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3. Make college football fairer
The people who make college football have a lot of creative ideas, and they turn them into a lot of money. There is College GameDay Built by The Home Depot and the Nissan Heisman House and the Belk Bowl and the Throw a Football Awkwardly Through a Giant Can of Dr. Pepper Halftime Extravaganza. Side note: the right to show the Playoff was sold to ESPN for $5 billion.
And that is mostly good, because some of that money is used to make the football games more shiny. But one thing the people who make the college football money are not good at is sharing with the people who play the football. They are not good at it because they do not want to be good at it. And that is starting to feel like a not very fun problem.
As the money has grown the sharing problem has become more visible, and so a "cost of attendance" stipend was rolled out to appease the masses. But we are told that sharing anything more than this with the players is very complicated.
What if we share the money and it isn’t perfectly fair? What if we share too much of the money? This is something that needs to be analyzed and discussed and debated, we are told. Someday, maybe. After further study.
We are told we can’t forget the players receive an expensive gift in exchange for their football talents: they are allowed to take college classes for free. The problem is, some of these players don’t care much about that, and only go to class because they have to go in order to play in football games. So to some of them, that gift is not much of a gift at all; it’s a pain in the ass.
And most people over five years old realize that just because something is valuable to you doesn’t mean it’s valuable to everyone. Sometimes, letting a football player walk into college classes without paying is like giving Madden 16 to your Aunt Bernice or a basket of shoehorns to a walrus.
I do not have a solution for how the money can be fairly shared, because I do not know exactly how the money is made and how much of it there is. (I invented the eight-team Playoff, so somebody else needs to do some work here.) The people who make the money know all about it, though, so they must figure it out before it gets in the way of the fun.
God made college football because he loves Americans and tackling and point spreads and bowl games. There are seven billion Differents who don’t care about any of it, which is fine with me. More for us.
Photos: Ronald Martinez, Getty; Tom Pennington, Getty