It's Time to Pull the Plug on Dave Brandon's Fairness Doctrine
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Imagine walking along the shore of a lake, enjoying the summer surroundings, ambling without a care.
Then off in the distance you hear cries for help.
You look for the sound and see four children in a sinking boat about 80 yards off shore.
You can see the panic in their eyes, the distress in their apparent hopeless actions.
"Help!" they scream. "We can't swim!"
You know that something bad is about to happen. You know that you have to act.
And then you think to yourself, "But if I swim out there to help those children, I can only save two of them at most. It wouldn't be fair to the two that I let drown. Besides, who am I to decide who lives and dies?"
And so you just keep walking, confident that your decision to avoid deciding which two children to let drown was the wise one.
You get back to enjoying the soothing sounds of nature, or at least you'll get back to enjoying the soothing sounds of nature once those lousy screaming kids finish their drowning.
Then, after your walk, you call assorted police, EMS and media.
"Why didn't you attempt to save the children!?" they all ask incredulously.
"There was no way to fairly save the children without unfairly leaving others to drown," you answer.
Basically, if they can't swim on their own, then they must all be condemned to drown.
You are then confronted by one of the parents who lost a child. They call you a "monster" and spit in your face.
"Listen, it wouldn't have been fair to another child to save your child," you tell the parent, wiping the angry stranger's saliva from your upper lip.
"And don't get angry at me," you say, "I'm not the one who couldn't swim!"
This is how Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon views a college football playoff.
No matter how many teams you choose, it's not going to be fair to the teams left off. Fortunately for him, his program "knows how to swim", so he will rarely be screaming for help from a sinking ship.
"This whole notion of a playoff is ridiculous because I don't care what you come up with, it's not going to be a fair playoff," he told ESPN.com this week.
And so we should just keep walking. Ignoring the cries for help.
After all, if something isn't fair to all, then it can't be an option.
I wonder how much of Michigan's $60 million Adidas contract Brandon shares with the rest of the nation, since that would be the only fair thing to do.
It's probably a good thing that Michigan signed that deal before Brandon arrived or else he would have turned it down, citing the amount of riches unfair to the rest of the Big Ten.
"This deal just wouldn't have been fair to Northwestern," is how it probably would have been handled.
Of course, sharing the Adidas money is a farcical example because what's "fair" in Brandon's eyes is as arbitrary as he views a playoff to be.
"You've got a bunch of teams that don't play one another and play different competition and in different time zones in different conferences in different stadiums in front of different crowds and different weather and suddenly at some point in the year you are trying to arbitrarily decide which one is better and which one deserves to be in a four-team playoff or a six-team playoff."
What he just described is exactly how the college football national champion is decided right now, except the example that he is denigrating actually doubles or triples the participants.
But since that's not good enough for him, he just wants to keep it to two. He doesn't want people deciding who lives and who dies, so all but two teams should die.
The logic is amazing. College administrators like Brandon might be the only people in the world where 2 > 4.
How can something that is more fair than the status quo be dismissed because it's deemed not fair enough?
"No matter where you draw that line, you're going to have controversy and people who are honked off because their team got cut off," he added.
Of course people will be "honked off" at the outcome. It's sports. That's why people watch.
But in the end, it's just sports. What's the worst that could happen? If people are upset, does this somehow mean that the economy is going to get worse, earthquakes are going to continue, or a new strain of Black Death is going to be unleashed upon us?
Of course not. It just means that college football fans will go into every season knowing that their team has a chance to win a national championship.
And for some reason that's a bad thing.
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