Don't believe the hype. Parity isn't always great.
Sure, the concept of parity is a wonderful thing. The idea that any team can beat any other team is both thrilling and rewarding to the general Americanized universal value of egalitarianism. It's not about the name of the team, it's about how the team performs. Great. That's the way it's supposed to be.
Yet, while that should drive huge attention and constant fandemonium, that's not how things tend to work out. And there's a reason for that: we Americans are full of it. Very few really want to see Maryland beat Notre Dame. Sure, plenty want to see Notre Dame fall in an upset, just for the sheer Schadenfreude of watching an established power lose to a school more comfortably associated with no fewer than five other sports.
That's all fine and good for a week, but then everyone has to deal with the consequences of Notre Dame losing to Maryland. Suddenly the Fighting Irish aren't in the mix for the College Football Playoff, which has been built into the be-all, end-all of college football. Be there or bust. Maybe Maryland is in the mix for a hypothetical CFP matchup if it beat Notre Dame and then cruised through the season. And as great of a story as that might be to read here and in newspapers across the country, it would almost certainly deliver an absolute snooze fest in a national semifinal when it came time to put it on TV.
Therein lies the real issue. College football is driven, almost entirely, by the need to feed sports television's insatiable appetite. And what sports television really wants is an updated, renewed version of classic rivalries so editors and producers can splice in old footage to gin up indulgent aww shucks memories of how great college football used to be (it wasn't) and remind viewers, (largely in the South and Midwest) "Hey! Look! These rivalries still exist! Isn't that cool?"
Once you accept that that is the real goal (why else would Texas have its own 24-hour television network?) of college football's season, it's not hard to see how parity is the problem, not the solution. Case in point: The current College Football Playoff standings.
Thanks to a pair of truly shocking Big Ten upsets (Iowa routing Ohio State and Michigan State edging Penn State) the two "big brands" that the Big Ten was positioning in front of a potential CFP cue are now all but eliminated from contention. Both the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions have two losses. Michigan State does, too, but now finds itself next-best-placed to sneak in the back door of the playoff if undefeated Wisconsin trips up or is exposed.
Or, maybe the Big Ten would miss out on the College Football Playoff altogether, which might be an even bigger problem for the committee.
Yes, the CFP would still feature Alabama, Georgia and might even sneak in Notre Dame, Miami. Clemson or Oklahoma. Or it could end up with two of those aforementioned teams and a pair of the following: