It’s a long way to the top

Pretend for a moment that the Fresno State Football team wins every game next year.

Will it happen? Probably not.

Can it happen? Sorry, I’m not an optimist.

Fresno State has a tough schedule next year. Of course, Pat Hill would likely argue that every year has a tough schedule. I’ll whisper it softly: “Playoff bracket.”

But, while Hill is smarting from his tears of joy because of his talented 2008 recruiting class, check out who Fresno State would have to beat.

First is an away game at UCLA. Fresno State also has games at Kansas State, Toledo and Boise State. Those are not slacker teams. Also, Fresno State has seven away games and only five home games.

Equally as daunting are the home games. Wisconsin, already ranked No. 13 in some polls, is coming to Bulldog Stadium, as well as the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) champion Hawaii, although without Colt Brennan and the ‘Dread Heads.’

Continuing on the pipe dream, what if Fresno State becomes the next WAC team to dive into the BCS rankings? It’s an uphill battle for sure, but that’s what Boise State and Hawaii likely thought, too.

Suddenly we get a Virginia Tech versus Fresno State match up, in say, the Orange Bowl. Fresno State, with some Hill magic, defeats Virginia Tech. Then what?

The push for a playoff in college football is gathering steam. Anyone who follows college football or has ever watched ESPN knows that. Multiple bloggers and columnists have talked the bracket idea to death.

There are countless ideas out there. There are ideas for 16-team brackets, 12-team and eight-team brackets.

College basketball clearly has the right idea. They toss in 65 teams to duke it out. Theoretically, anyone can win any game. I’ve never seen the last 60 seconds of a basketball game last so long as they have in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Maybe the reason it hasn’t been adopted is because of injuries and student academics. I’d be willing to bet that NFL teams would strongly oppose the bracket.

If there’s something to learn from college basketball it’s that sometimes teams can pull it together for a few days and beat teams that are way out of their league.

George Mason in 2006 taught America that when they reached the Final Four after receiving a lowly 11th seed. Essentially, that meant that George Mason was predicted to be the 44th best team in the big dance.

Hill’s ‘Dogs could easily be the 44th best football team in the nation. Granted, that would not get them into a proposed 16-team playoff.

Imagine in this dream if Fresno State went undefeated and catapulted into a bracket and knocked off Virginia Tech and USC. Or Ohio State and Florida. Or LSU and Oklahoma. What if Fresno State came out and pulled a ‘Boise State Fiesta Bowl’ on someone? Twice. Fresno State could be in the Final Four of college football.

For the fan, the positives of a bracket system outweigh the negatives. Sure, kids would miss a few more classes and the probability of injuries would go up.

But if someone’s playing football, they already know they could get hurt. The risk is half the fun. Getting out of school’s pretty fun too.

A bracket would help college football television contracts, help programs gain even more national attention and boost economies in football towns for potentially four more weeks.

Underdogs would rise. College football recruiting behemoths would fall.

Lower conference coaches would be labeled as geniuses.

The level of competitiveness would be debatable in the first round.

But every year, when teams not in the SEC, Big 12 or Pac-10 make it into the bracket, underdog whispers would begin.

Don’t think it too loud.

You know what every game could be.


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