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Sagacity: 'Acuteness of Mental Discernment' on the Mythical Championship

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Rare is the SMQ shout out for the sole purpose of shouting out, but even rarer is the high substantive quality of disinterested naysaying in progress at Saurian Sagacity, where poster Mergz is steadily blowing up notions of "National Championships" new and old, first by claiming - convincingly - a 1984 National Championship for his own Florida Gators, then by waylaying the idea that there is such an honor as an actual "National Championship," and most recently by examining part of the long, sordid history of multiple championships and their dubious founts of legitimacy.

A teaser from the latter:

So, by a mixture of the old system of bowl games and polls, and the hyper focus by the national media on the importance of the "National Championship", we find ourselves in the muddled mess we have. A system that, at times, permits more than one team to be a "National Champion." A system based on the ability of, or even the audacity of, a team to claim that it IS the "National Champion".

I submit that the Florida Gators' claim to the 1984 National Championship is every bit as valid as Alabama's 1934 claim, and even more valid than Alabama's 1964 claim. But that is exactly the problem. Any system based on claims, and not wins, is bound to have flaws.

The second installment is most dear to SMQ's heart, because when he refers to the "Mythical Championship," it's not to be cute: there really is, sans NCAA sanction, no real major college football national championship. At least not in the sense that we think of a championship in any other sport. This is not only a matter of decision by opinion polls - though that's a huge matter - but more importantly that there is no recognition of any of these dozens of polls from the sport's sanctioning body. Other sports organizations whose winners are determined by opinion - boxing, figure skating, diving - at least sanction, regulate and recognize an "official" opinion. No such essential sanction exists in major college football. What will be awarded as a "National Championship" to Ohio State or Florida in January is a corporate designation, but dozens of other championship-granting entities exist with their own championships, all of them employing to some degree a form of opinion and considering the "National Championship Game" just another game to be considered to form that opinion (computer formulas, SMQ has said before, are a noble attempt at objectivity and possibly more valuable than hu-mann arbitration, but inherently subjective in the human input stage).

The results of any poll only carry as much weight as granted by the breadth of public acceptance, but any of dozens of poll results are recognized by someone - often, as Mergz shows, by very important someones, including actual institutions, however cynically selective their acceptance - and therefore all carry the same inherent legitimacy (or illegitimacy, as it were). Thus, the "National Championship Game" is recognized by most people because its organizers have the resources to draw conferences and university presidents into contracts and to advertise it as such, and media outlets oblige. But corporate sponsors and media outlets don't sanction the sport; neither do conferences or university presidents. They exert influence on the NCAA, but it's the NCAA's game, and the NCAA makes the rules. And the NCAA does not conduct a national championship in Division I-A football. Refer again to Saurian Sagacity for evidence this argument is not mere semantics.

An Ohio State win will not "settle" the matter this season; a unanimous opinion remains no less an opinion, and as long as any agency anywhere reserves the right to bestow a "National Championship" on whomever it pleases for whatever reason, while the only possible benefactor of actual legitimacy washes its hands of the process, the entire exercise of champion-crowning will remain a fanciful - if ever profitable - game of pretend.