Talking Football

(Cartoonist’s note: I haven’t mentioned college football this fall, because I know not everyone here follows it. However, I have something I want to say about it today, so I’ve chosen two cartoons I think many can enjoy, whether football fans or not. The first should appeal to the cat people, and the second to, well… you know who you are.)
I read an article recently about how fast “artificial intelligence” is progressing, or, perhaps more precisely, how far it has progressed. The gist of the article was that within the lifetime of many living today, virtually all jobs now done by humans will be performed and performed better by some form of robotics. According to the author of the article, this cannot and should not be prevented; it only remains for society to decide how it’s going to adjust. Maybe, but what does this have to do with football? Nothing, but it got me thinking.

Currently, the college football “playoff” consists of four teams chosen solely by a committee of 13 old men, several of whom must recuse themselves at any given time (One hopes!), because they are affiliated with the schools they’re considering. This is the NCAA’s answer. This is the best they can do. Well, I have an idea!

If (major) college football absolutely refuses to institute a true playoff—and we are far from that—let a computer winnow the field. This actually has been half-heartedly done. For several years prior to the advent of the committee, a paltry two teams were chosen to play for the championship by a mash-up of human polls and computer-generated standings. Then, they threw out the baby and kept the bath water.

Forget Artificial Intelligence! Forget the future! The computing capability to choose the better of 100 teams based on statistics has been around for at least 60 years. Throw in the strength of schedule, the offensive stats, the defensive stats, etc. Choose a dozen or so contenders in this manner. Throw in a couple of byes if needed. The details don’t matter so much; it would be simple compared to the system now in place. If it sounds cold, computers already do countless tasks that are a lot more important than football. I say embrace the future! I say fire the committee and replace it with a computer.
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