Playoff brings meaning back to college football

Mark J. Terrill/APMarcus Mariota and Oregon's victory over Florida State sent the Ducks into the national title game against Ohio State.

No matter how many teams are involved, there will be pissing and moaning. That's just the way we are.

But as weird as it may seem, at least now the pissing and moaning is about something positive.

As in the college football playoff system that everybody's been wanting for years. It made its debut with No. 2 Oregon taking down No. 3 Florida State before No. 1 Alabama was knocked off by No. 4 Ohio State, and sure, there's a legitimate debate to be had as to whether the right teams made the final four (or is there?).

But given the crap we've been served for the better part of a decade, with a ridiculously confusing system spitting out two teams to tussle for all the marbles on a random early January weekday, this was heaven.

Granted, the national championship game is still going to be held on a random early January weekday, but it's a million times more palatable now because it's the product of a phenomenal, yes-this-truly-is-a-big-deal pair of games on the day for which such spectacles were meant.

College football reclaimed New Year's Day as its own Thursday, and the world is a better place for it.

Would it be nice if it were a true tournament? Sure. Eight teams would be awesome, particularly if there were a way to make sure that some quality Cinderella stories were at least possible. Some say 16 teams would be even better, and maybe it would. But it is hard to believe that, given the relative lack of parity in college football as opposed to the NFL, there are more than, say, 10 Bowl Championship Series teams that should be considered truly elite.

But you know what? Whatever. Who cares? Four, eight, 16 … whatever raises your mast. As long as it features football games that actually mean something being played for the enjoyment of hungover masses on Jan. 1, it's all good.

Prior to Thursday, the college football landscape on New Year's Day over the past decade-plus had devolved into a mind-numbing parade of games about which only the students and alumni of the schools involved care.

For example, the Rose Bowl had ceased to be the “Granddaddy of Them All.” It had become sloppy-drunk Uncle Earl bragging about the $1,900 jackpot he hit on a 5-cent video poker machine down at the casino-massage parlor in Topanga Canyon.

Need proof? Quick, name the two teams who played in last year's Rose Bowl. Didn't think so.

Now name the two teams who helped resurrect the Rose Bowl on Thursday. Easy, right? Maybe not as easy as Oregon made look advancing to the national title game, but easy nonetheless.

And immediately following came another Clash of Titans, in the first Sugar Bowl that felt meaningful since

Herschel Walker, Dan Marino and Bo Jackson were using it as a showcase of their insane talent in the early 1980s.

It was New Year's Day and college football as it should be, and one hell of a way to start the sports year.

Mychael Urban, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter and broadcaster, is the host of “Inside the Bigs,” which airs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon on KGMZ “The Game” (95.7 FM).

College Football PlayoffMychael UrbanRose BowlSugar Bowl

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