We have criticized the bowl system regularly and logically, we have even proposed our own fix to the bowl system. The biggest criticism leveled against the current playoff system, is there are only a handful of teams at the beginning of the season who have a chance at playing for a National Title before a game is even played. This is most obviously seen with UCF going undefeated the last two seasons without a chance of getting into the playoff. During the BCS-era it was Utah or Boise State or TCU getting hosed year after year.
But what about at the next level, what Universities are putting out the best players on the most competitive teams.
This came as quite a surprise as I began researching this.
Have you heard of these schools? Western Oregon, West Alabama, Valdosta State, Monmouth University, Newberry College, Northwestern Missouri State or how about Saginaw Valley State? All of these football programs were represented on a starting line-up from last weeks NFL Playoffs.
Wisconsin, Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame and Wisconsin led the way with 5 players each. But SMU had 3, that 2 less than such powerhouses. Boise State and BYU had impressive showings with 3 and 2 respectively. That was more than Nebraska, Virginia or Clemson fielded.
And these small universities aren’t just making a presence in random, non-important positions. The smaller collegiate football programs are developing some of the most valuable players in the playoffs.
Of course, we can look at Drew Brees who went to Purdue, not known for it’s powerhouse play. One of the key defensive pick-ups from last year’s draft by the much improved Cowboys was Leighton Vander Esch. Vander Esch bumped Pro Bowler Sean Lee from his starting job this year, Vander Esch comes from a tiny town in central Idaho and went to Boise State University. BSU had 3 players starting this past weekend. Not bad for a team that couldn’t get a passing glance from the powers that be in college football.
The Colts had the much discussed phenom Andrew Luck who comes from perennially mover Stanford. But his biggest weapon, Wide Receiver T. Y. Hilton spent his college career in Florida International.
The Kansas City Chiefs, who look to be the best team right now, have two-star offensive weapons. Their 1st year quarterback Patrick Mahomes played college ball at Texas Tech and his most trusted target, Tight End Travis Kelce comes from the University of Cincinnati. When Cincinnati recently went undefeated for the first half the season couldn’t break the Top 20.
This story and theme are repeated throughout the NFL teams. Yeah there are studs that played at the glamourous college programs like Alabama’s Amari Cooper. But for everyone of those there is Chris Hogan of Monmouth University catching passes from Tom Brady and still playing for a Super Bowl.
College football might be the snottiest, most elitist organization in American sports. Yet the NFL, the purest form of meritocracy, shows that it is elitism and not merit that makes the decisions in NCAA football.