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College Football Playoff is Still not Perfect Solution

Last Monday, December 22, marked the 30th anniversary of the first college football game I ever attended.

The game was the Florida Citrus Bowl between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Florida State Seminoles.

Joining me for my first in person taste of gridiron glory from our seats among the “Zonies” on a warm 80 degree Orlando, Florida winter day were my mom, grandmother and cousin.

Thanks to the magic of the internet I was able to watch a grainy broadcast of the game yesterday to see if I could find any shots of my family in the stands. Sadly I did not.

With two family members rooting for each side, it was probably for the best that the game ended in a 17-17 tie so that each of us could feel like we won.

In 1984 my mother, grandmother, cousin and I watched the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida State Seminoles battle to a 17-17 tie in the Florida Citrus Bowl. Photo R. Anderson
In 1984 my mother, grandmother, cousin and I watched the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida State Seminoles battle to a 17-17 tie in the Florida Citrus Bowl.
Photo R. Anderson

I had the opportunity to attend many other games at the Citrus Bowl Stadium during my time as both a student and as a Sports Information Office intern at the University of Central Florida but 1984 marked my only trip to a bowl game.

While the UCF Knights no longer play at there, the Citrus Bowl will once again be filled with screaming fans tomorrow as the college football bowl season is in full swing.

There are 39 bowl games on the schedule this year from coast to coast.

Bowl games were even played beyond the continental United States in Hawaii and the Bahamas.

Plans call for even more games next year as cities and companies try to capitalize on the popularity of college football and bring the bowl experience to their cities.

Bowl games are profitable and allow schools who are “bowl eligible” to play one more game while the schools who did not make the cut get an early start on next year.

Bowl games also allow sports networks to sell lots and lots of commercials to pad their pockets before the lean months of the sporting calendar begin.

The Bowl system has changed dramatically since younger me saw his first game and this year offers college football’s version of a playoff where four teams were chosen to battle for the National Championship.

I know that we are all supposed to rally behind the playoff selection committee and say that a college playoff is good and just, but the fact remains that it still boils down to a subjective selection, if not a full blown popularity contest.

While not getting into details on the four chosen teams and whether or not they belong, the fact remains they were chosen by human beings instead of the way other sports select their playoff teams.

In every other professional sport, and let’s not kid ourselves by thinking that college football is not a professional sport, playoff teams are selected based on either winning your division or being a wild card team.

While this system in the NFL brought us a division winner with a losing record, everyone knows the rules going into it.

There is no room for debates on strength of schedule or other subjective factors. It is very cut and dry as to who is and is not in the playoffs.

It is likely that college football will never be able to remove all of the subjective nature of the playoffs based on the number of teams involved and other factors such as wanting teams from the power conferences to always be involved in the championship game.

The College Football Playoff system is not perfect and it never will be.

A March Madness type tournament where 64 basketball teams are whittled down to a single champion would likely not be feasible based on the number of days needed to recover after a football game, but I hold slightly more faith that a Final Four basketball Champion is more worthy than a football playoff champion.

So enjoy your bowl games and cheer on your alma mater but do not think that the four best schools in the country will always be represented in the playoffs.

That is not to say that it is time for the tin foil hat society to look for conspiracies and call Mulder and Scully to straighten things out. The Bowl Championship Series that preceded this year’s playoff format was equally flawed when it came to objectivity.

There is just too much room for error and too many cooks in the kitchen with agendas of their own for a football champion that all will agree on to be crowned.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to see if I can find my ticket stub from the 1984 Citrus Bowl.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson


Monty Python Says Goodbye with Singing, Dancing, and Spam

And now for something completely different.

Normally this space would be reserved for some observations and witty commentary on various happenings from within the world of baseball.

There are certainly many baseball tales that need to be covered as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches on July 31 and teams prepare for the final months of a grueling season.

We will certainly get to all of those stories and more in the coming days and weeks.

But in honor of the end of an era, today we will take a break from covering baseball to focus on Monty Python.

Much like the Spanish Inquisition, I am sure that no one expected that.

So sit back in your comfy chair, and fry up some Spam in your best lumberjack flannel while considering the meaning of life and whether a swallow could or could not carry a coconut.

Monty Python has likely hung up the Spam for good after a farewell performance Sunday in London. Photo R. Anderson.
Monty Python has likely hung up the Spam for good after a farewell performance Sunday in London.
Photo R. Anderson.

These are just a few of the plethora of items that became part of the pop culture landscape over the past 45 years or so thanks to the six members of the Monty Python comedy group who showed that their impact on pop culture was much more than just a flesh wound.

That 45 year comedic chest of drawers was on full display when the five surviving members of Monty Python performed the final show of a 10-day residency “Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go” at the O2 Arena in London on Sunday in front of a 16,000-strong audience.

In addition to the London audience the show was broadcast live in theaters across the globe.

While I was not yet born when Monty Python first burst onto the scene with the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow, like many people of my generation and those that followed, I discovered a love of Monty Python through reruns on television and by watching their big screen movies.

During high school hardly a day would go by without someone uttering some catch phrase from a Monty Python skit.

With the works of Monty Python playing such an integral part in shaping my comedic sensibilities, it was a given that I would don my “Holy Grail” inspired killer rabbit shirt and attend the live simulcast at my local cinema to be part of the history.

Throughout a roughly two and a half hour show skits and songs from throughout the Python catalog were performed by Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam.

Graham Chapman, the sixth Python, who died in 1989, was certainly there in spirit and he also appeared on film clips, along with some of the original television footage of Python sketches shown on a huge video display.

The performance started by paying homage to another British import that recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, as the Pythons entered the stage in a blue police box that looked an awful lot like that time and space traveling time lord Doctor Who’s TARDIS.

While long considered international comedy geniuses who inspired countless comedians who came after them, the members of Monty Python first garnered fame through “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”, which aired in England from 1969 to 1974. The Flying Circus landed in America thanks to support from local Public Broadcasting Stations who introduced Monty Python to the American masses in rerun form starting in 1974.

With their place in popular culture so well established it is hard to believe that there were only 45 episodes of The Flying Circus ever made.

Following the success of the television show Monty Python made a number of films, including “Monty Python and The Holy Grail” and “The Meaning of Life”.

It would be nearly impossible for any single live performance to cover every single joke from a 45 year career. Instead of trying to cover it all, the live show took the most memorable skits from the television show and the movies to blend together a retrospective that spanned the entire catalog from lumberjack to spam.

There was even room for a few new interpretations of old classics as well as a prerecorded skit with theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, who at 72-years-old, is roughly the same age as the five surviving members of Monty Python.

After bringing to life so many laughs the performance ended in the only way that it could really, with the five Pythons, dressed in white tuxedos, belting out “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” as a sort of prearranged spontaneous encore.

Following the encore, the video display flashed “Monty Python 1969-2014”, indicating that this was likely the end for the group.

Only time will tell whether there is still life left in the old Norwegian blue parrot that allows Monty Python to fly once more and show that they still feel happy and aren’t dead yet.

Regardless of whether or not Monty Python ever performs again, they will continue to live on through reruns and the internet inspiring countless more generations with their quotable potables, silly walks and philosophers playing on the pitch.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go in search of a shrubbery.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson