You just can't please some people. After years of bawling and whining about not having a national college football playoff, now we've got one, and nobody seems satisfied.
The Big 12 is considering succeeding from the Union because its teams didn't make the big four. The Air Force coach has declared the playoff format as "UnAmerican." All of the TV talking heads are putting the program down, saying that it should have been eight teams instead of four.
Fans of three of the teams who are in the playoffs are upset that their team didn't get seeded higher than they did. And fans of everybody else, whether they have a legit gripe or not, are just angry in general.
What exactly did these people expect? That the committee's choices were going to automatically, somehow, please everyone? Not possible.
So Baylor and TCU had great years and didn't make the cut. Expand the field to eight, and you'll still have everyone crying that teams nine and ten aren't being treated fairly. Heck, you could make a March Madness out of it and let 64 teams in, and there would still be someone on the bubble left to cry about it.
This is still college football, and expanding the field would add extra games and weeks to the season. That means extra chances of players being seriously injured, extra complications, and a situation in which it would be that much harder to pretend that all Division I football athletes are at places like Alabama and Florida State for the education.
Frankly, I was skeptical enough about the playoff concept to begin with. Why exactly do we need a "national champion" declared, except to achieve more TV revenue? We used to have a great series of bowl games that all meant something, few enough that it was an honor to go. It was fun to pass the worst of winter debating who is the best.
Now we have 39 bowl games named after fast food and car parts joints, some of which nobody has heard of before and may never again - so many that the NCAA has waived its rules against teams with sub-.500 records being invited to play in the bowls. Have all those 6-6 teams in this year's bowls earned the honor?
I wasn't a math major, but under the playoff system, I figure 33 bowls don't really count for anything. Six will be hot tickets, I'm not so sure the rest will be seen as worth much attention now.
The big flaw of the playoff system, without question, is that schools from the less prestigious conferences will likely never have a chance. No matter how many games they win, by how much, they will never have the strength of schedule to compete with the five or six elite leagues. Another issue, teams that run up huge scores against hapless opponents will be rewarded.
Still, to my way of thinking, the fledgling playoff system and its committee did a pretty solid job within these flawed circumstances. All season long, we got to see their rankings on a weekly basis, so everyone knew where they stood, and could see the rationale developing.
The four teams that are in deserve to be. You can't ask for more than that.
As for we poor, beleaguered Iowa State fans, we are aware we probably will never taste that forbidden fruit at the top of the mountain.
However, being a super good team is one way to affect the final four. There is another. Being really, really bad.
Think about it. Both TCU and Baylor out of the Big 12 finished with one loss, same as three teams that made it into the playoff. They missed by a fingernail, and the only reason could be the strength of their opponents, or lack of it.
And among the most anemic of the schedule was this year's Cyclones, who barely counted as a gentle breeze. Both teams beat the snot out of us. If they had one more higher quality opponent, one or both could well be in the title mix.
So, in a perverse and backward yet somehow mildly satisfying way, Iowa State determined the national playoff, just by being so awful that beating us up is not impressive enough. Stinks to be you, Bears and Horned Frogs.
ISU fans are patient, resilient, stubbornly loyal. We take small victories where we can find 'em.