In the midst of the college football world wishing away the 2013 season to get to the new playoff starting in 2014, some, like Mississippi State's Dan Mullen, would have no problem getting back to the old days of college football. As ESPN's Ivan Maisel reports, Mullen wouldn't mind getting back to the day when bowls were all that mattered, national championships could be split and the end game was not a playoff.
The Bulldogs head coach has got a point, the same point that Bob Stoops made in 2012 during the BCS Meetings: Just because the fans want it and television will pay for it doesn't mean the playoff is the best thing for college football.
Mullen's simply not as sold, not nearly as gung ho, about the playoff and all that is going to come with it. From his SEC Media Days appearance when asked about the new playoff, via Georgia's Red and Black newspaper:
I want to see how it's going to affect all of college football, whether it's in a positive way or negative way. After it happens for a couple years, I'll be better equipped to answer that question.
Nothing wrong with a wait-and-see attitude, especially when you look at what Mullen, a coach who lives his life around student athletes, says about enjoying the bowl experience with his players.
Where at the bowl system, we had a bunch of seniors leave winning a championship in their last football game last year. What a great educational tool that is for them winning the Music City Bowl. That's their lasting memory of football...
...The tradition that goes along with it, the excitement with the fan base, when you pull up to Nashville at the Music City Bowl, there's 30,000 fans outside the stadium to meet the bus, what a neat experience that is for your players and fans.
Ultimately, that is the nexus of Mullen's point, and it is a good one. These games are for the team and its players. These games are for the team and its fans. Sure, as it stands now, the four-team event allows the bowls to remain a fixture in the marketplace.
But, with folks already calling for an expanded field and the bracket creep that looms large on the horizon, someone has to look out for the future of the sport. That includes the bowls as not just money-making entities but as celebrations of the season for individual teams and their fanbases.
The casual college football fan is not looking out for that. Television networks are not looking out for that. Media pundits, largely, are not looking out for that. No, those entities want what they want, players and coaches be damned.
It is nice to see a coach, much like Stoops did a year ago, speak to what bowls mean to him and, more importantly, to his players. More often than not, the two most influential cogs in the system, the coaches and players, do not have much of a voice in the future of the game.
Mullen makes a great point, the postseason still needs to, in many ways, be a reward to the players who do the heavy lifting. The bowl trip, the experience, the swag, the per diem and the events are the reward. Hopefully, college football does not lose that.