I haven’t beat down a dead horse for a while so forgive me. But college football’s bowl season makes it too damn hard to resist.
Each year around this time, the same questions surface surrounding the Bowl Championship Series.
Really since Auburn ran the table in the SEC and finished the season undefeated, talking bad hairdos across the sports nation love nothing more than bashing the NCAA and foaming at the mouth when a team like Auburn backs their case. Howard Dean has nothing on most of them.
All the talk ends up at the same place. College football needs a playoff system. Well, it’s my turn. Why buck tradition?
Let’s look at one reason the pretty people at ESPN and Sports Illustrated tend to over look. Most of the time the argument is based on who is more deserving. Who won more games in a tougher conference (an even more pathetic argument)?
It all starts with the fundamental inconsistency of the variables entered into the BCS equation. First an foremost is the perception of conferences.
If you live north of Kentucky, the Big-10 is the best conference. If you live around these parts, it’s the SEC. Go out west; you’ll here claims that the PAC-10 or Big-12 is where big-time football lives. Everyone is missing the point.
Second, and perhaps most critical, is the human element. Voting will be cloudy for as long as humans have anything to do with it. Whether it’s a political runoff or an MVP race, humans aren’t objective. So now what?
Playoffs are designed to weed out the pretenders from the contenders. Playoffs eliminate doubt and spit out the best team. Every other form of sports have them. Even NASCAR racing and PGA golf has playoffs now. What does NCAA football have?
The Rose bowl – USC blew out Penn State. That was no surprise. USC is the best team in college football.
The Orange Bowl – Cincinnati versus Virginia Tech, is anyone going to watch this game? Maybe if you like special teams play.
The Fiesta Bowl – Ohio State versus Texas. This should be a good game. Ohio State is good and its defense will give Texas quarterback Colt McCoy problems. It may also be the last game for Buckeye’s junior running back Chris "Beanie" Wells. Texas is a great team too. This game has sex appeal. Everyone should watch it.
The Sugar Bowl – Alabama versus Utah. Here’s this year’s debacle so far. Every year one of these bowls gets the scrubby undefeated team from Saskatchewan or wherever.
At least this year Utah exposed the vaunted SEC as just another conference with one or two great teams in it (like all the big conferences. It changes every year so I don’t want to hear all this SEC is the best conference nonsense. Florida is the best team - that has nothing to do with the rest of the conference.)
Last year’s game was terrible. Georgia pounded Hawaii. The only decent story from that matchup was the week leading up to the game and all the June Jones coming back to Atlanta stuff. More on this game later.
BCS Championship Game – Florida versus Oklahoma. Of course this is a great game with both schools deserving its spot. I don’t have a problem with either of their rankings going into the game.
Both programs are big-time. Both are playing very well right now.
Now comes the fun part.
Whoever wins the BCS title game is crowned champion under the current system. I’m still not sure about that USC split championship nonsense a few years back, but that withstanding, lets just say either Oklahoma or Florida will emerge No. 1.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say USC will probably end No. 2. But here’s where it gets sticky. Can either team – Oklahoma or Florida – beat USC? Personally, I think it would be tough. USC is really good, every year. Texas beat them in 2005, perhaps the only really legit year of the BCS championship. Those were the two best teams in college football that year. But Ohio State wasn’t one of the two best teams in the country last year. LSU looked pretty good but again, who’s to say USC wouldn’t have rolled up both of those teams.
And what about Utah? After the Utes thumped of Alabama, who’s to say it they don’t deserve a shot at the title game?
What happens if Texas rolls up Ohio State?
As it stands, these bowl games don’t mean anything. At least back in the day, a couple of teams would be playing games in hopes of winning a National Championship.
In 1997 No. 2 Arizona State played No. 4 Ohio State in the Rose Bowl and No. 3 Florida and No. 1 Florida State met in the Sugar Bowl for what was supposed to be the title game?
Ohio State pulled out the 20-17 win in the closing seconds of the game. At that time, by rules of the Bowl Coalition, the coaches were obligated to choose the winner of the Sugar Bowl as National Champions. But at least if Arizona State had won (the Sun Devils were 11-0 in the regular season), they would have likely been named AP National Champions.
A playoff system would eliminate all of the speculation. Seed the top eight teams and play four games. Seed the four remaining teams and whittle it down to two games, then one championship game. As it turned out, Florida won. But all four of those teams finished with one loss.
Yes, I know. That’s two extra games for the eventual champion. So what. What, do you think it will affect the players’ studies? Please.
Ohio State has roughly five weeks off between its bowl game. Other school’s have similar breaks. Time isn’t the problem.
Money may have to do something with the argument against additional games. Since about 95 percent of the funds raised from BCS games goes back into the 63 BCS schools, it sounds like more games would be better financially too.
Perhaps a playoff makes too good sense. Why would the NCAA dare fix something so controversial? What fun would that be?
My argument isn’t very sound, I know. I could care less about working up all the scenarios. The fundamental problem is simple. Imagine how the ’97 season could have shaken down. Ohio State would have played Florida for the championship. Would that have been so bad? Both teams finished with one loss and played tough teams. Instead we had to leave it up to all the hairdos to decide. You can see what happens when you empower humans to make group decisions. Anyone remember the 2000 presidential election?
Werner Von Braun built vehicles that transported human beings to the moon. That’s heady stuff. Putting together a playoff system to determine the best team in college football isn’t.
Bad hair aside, I’ll watch the rest of the games until they at least get ugly (like the Rose and Sugar Bowl). Maybe someday things will change. Then I can actually get into college football. But for me, it’s lame to know your team is basically out of any championship hunt after one loss.
I can’t help to wonder why we haven’t figured this out yet.