11.29.2006

Without The BCS There Would Be No Crystal Football

As a Purdue alumnus I really don't have any pipe dreams wherein I see the Boilermakers going to the national championship game...um, ever. Hell, we only win the Big Ten every thirty years or so. Thus, I don't really have a personal interest in any system that's in place. Just thought you should know.

It's getting to be a lonely club; those of us who don't hate the Bowl Championship Series. Now in its ninth year, the system that was supposed to cure the ills of college football's ranking system has become the most convenient whipping boy (with the possible exception of Pete Rose) in all of sports. Of course what people often neglect to mention is that there's only been one split championship (Auburn and USC in 2004) and a lot griping from teams who feel slighted. But surely the entire system can't be dismantled simply due to a bunch of whining, can it? Wouldn't that just be encouraging Jay Mariotti?

Let's get it out of the way: no system is perfect. Whether you favor a four team or eight team (or even the clinically insane 16 team) playoff there still will be unavoidable controversy. There are a lot of people who love the NCAA basketball tournament and have managed to convince themselves that it's the perfect system. Guess what, it's not (more on this later). While the idea of striving for perfection is noble, the BCS has accomplished what everybody wanted and expected. It created a Super Bowl of college football. And, nobody misses that game (except for my mom, but she's more of a pro football fan). The matchups have been complelling and entertaining, and generally more fun to watch than the Super Bowl. Sounds like a system that's working to me.

So, why are people completely obsessed with the concept of a playoff? Best I can tell, we have a playoff in every other American sports league and people don't know any other way. But, hasn't anybody noticed how we've completely undervalued the regular season? The Steelers won the championship from a Wild Card and the Cardinals squeaked into the playoffs in the middle of an almost-epic backslide with a barely better than .500 record. I probably don't even need to mention the NBA, but let me remind you that over half the teams make the postseason. In the NCAA basketball tourney, fourth and fifth place teams from some conferences get in every year.

We've created an atmosphere where it's not the team who plays great all season who is lauded as the best team, but rather the team who gets hot at the right time. I, for one, like the idea of that early fall game between Notre Dame and Michigan having the potential to make or break a season. This is why it's so goddamned exciting. Plus, there's the argument that in the Ohio State and Michigan game this year, both teams would have already qualified for a playoff and thus could have rested players and not had to give 100%. How sad would that be for a game with so much tradition? I kind of like the idea of every game being for all the marbles.

Then, of course there's the money. You've probably heard it all, but basically the current bowl system is insanely profitable for the NCAA, the host cities and particular the participating schools. Fans seem to travel regardless of the status of their team's bowl (for example the Champs Sports Bowl in tropical Orlando, Florida). Everybody is fat and happy right now. Do I think that a playoff could potentially make everybody just as much money? Probably. It's like your one buddy who's been at the same job even though he's had other opportunites that could probably make him more successful. You keep asking him about it and he just shrugs and says "yeah, but I'd have to learn a whole new job and I might even have to move." Hard to argue with, really.

Finally, at the end of the day everybody controls their own fate. Think you deserve to be in the big game, Michigan? Maybe you should have won that game in Columbus. And, there's still the reasonable subjective qualities of the coaches' poll in play. Living in SEC country I get force-fed a lot of Florida games. And, realistically, anybody who has watched the Gators barely edge out South Carolina and a crummy Florida State team in recent weeks cannot reasonably think that they are the second best team in the country. Beat FSU by four touchdowns and then we'll talk. What I'm trying to say here is: if you want to be considered in the top two teams in the country, go out and play like it.

In the end, I'd like to think the designers of the BCS had two (at least somewhat) noble priorities in mind when designing the stystem. One, have one game to determine the national championship. And two, do so without completely dismantling the current system. I'd say they accomplished said goals. Now let's not ruin it Fox by letting Joe Buck announce the game.

15 comments:

trout said...

That's not even mentioning the extra time away from class that players would have to spend if they instituted a playoff. Ummmmm... nevermind. If I think too much about what college football and basketball has become in terms of money, publicity, etc., I just begin hating the whole thing. And that's no good because I still want to like it and I most certainly don't want to turn into my dad any sooner than I have to.

Jason said...

The BCS has done a good job of advancing college football. Here is an article about the founders so you can give them your praise.

http://www.latimes.com/sports/college/football/la-sp-petitti26nov26,1,5869845.story?coll=la-headlines-sports-coll_footb

Notorious B.O.B. said...

Purdue got screwed by the BCS...again. Damn you BCS! I guess I will once again have to fall back on my Gators. It's just too bad the Ole Ball Coach isn't there anymore to throw his visor. Man I love that visor.

Anonymous said...

Sure there will always be controversy but without a playoff there's no way of knowing if you've got the two best teams in the championship game. A couple years ago Auburn goes undefeated in a power conference and doesn't get a shot. This year either Michigan or USC or possibly Florida are going to get left out. Why? Because voters, who don't come close to watching enough games to vote intelligently, say so. Or computers - who are better than the voters in most years - don't take common sense into account.

Florida gets hosed this year because Florida State and Georgia are having off-years so their schedule isn't nearly as impressive as it would've been when they made the schedule. Teams have to schedule so far ahead of time - Tiller was saying the Purdue/Hawaii game last week was contracted in 1994. That's absurd. Obviously that's an extreme case, but teams are routinely scheduling games 5-7 years out.

And consider a team like Louisville. People ripped on their schedule this year but every single SEC team except for Georgia (I think) has refused to schedule home-and-home with them. Why? Because they're afraid to go to Louisville and don't want to give up the easy win playing at home against West One-Legged State.

What the BCS does is keep the power in the BCS conferences - a team from outside those conferences have no shot to win a national championship. Neither does any team ranked too low (or not at all) in the opening top 25 poll.

Plus there's the inherent bias of the Notre Dame contingent, who always overrate ND; the anti-ND faction, who always downgrade ND; the large number of southern voters who always overvalue the SEC and ignore the west and eastern parts of the county as much as possible ... there's just no way to get an accurate vote. There's nothing to stop some writer from voting USC 6th this week just to try and help get Michigan or Florida into the #2 slot.

There's no doubt the BCS is better than what we had, but it's still a joke. If 1-AA can have a playoff, then there's no reason 1A can't. You can still have a playoff and a bowl system - you just combine them. So this year, for instance, you'd have the National Championship Game as the finals, the Rose and Fiesta as the semis, the Sugar, Orange, Gator, and Cotton as the quarters.

And as for teams always complaining - yes, that's going to happen, but I'd rather see the argument between Notre Dame, Boise State, and West Virginia (or whomever) over who gets slot #8 rather than Michigan, Florida, and USC over who gets slot #2.

And I'd be all for a 16 team playoff. That's only 4 weeks.

Gage said...

Tennessee is #16 in the BCS right now. They have three losses. That would be ridiculous if they had a chance to win the championship.

Jim's Son said...

Don't even get me started on the injustices in college football...

IU clearly deserves to be in a bowl game... its such bullshit that you have to win 6 games. I mean, jesus, we fucking beat Ball St. in Muncie. Do you know how hard it is there??

and oh yeah... remember Juice Williams?? that's right the heisman hopeful qb at Illinois who is genius enough to run Zook's offense.... IU beat the fuck out of them too...

anyway... if god gave a fuck about the world... Andy and I would be headed out west to the Poinsettia bowl to watch our favorite team of destiny....

and one serious note...

that fucking phantom pass interference call during the IU Purdue game was such bullshit...

Frank the Tank said...

I'm all for a playoff-bowl hyrbid as the ultimate solution. Here's my proposal that acknowledges that, while it would be more "fair", a pure NCAA Tournament-style playoff just won't happen because of the financial barriers:

The Best of Both Worlds: A Modest Proposal for a College Football Playoff System That Keeps the Bowls

steven said...

Also, you can still keep the integrity of the regular season with one simple rule: No one, and I mean NO ONE, gets into the playoffs without winning their conference. (The hell with Notre Dame.)

J Wheeeeezy said...

Yes, but in college hoops, once teams have already clinched a spot in the Big Dance they STILL play hard because they don't want to screw up their last few games and get seeded too low and have to play, say, the Duke Blue Devils in the 2nd or 3rd round. As opposed to winning as many games as possible, getting a high seed, and snacking on cream puffs all the way to the elite 8 or final four, THEN having to play the Dukes and Carolinas and not having to have the fans bitch about an early exit from the tourney in the 2nd round. Catch my drift?

Same thing could work in college football. Say you're, just for example, Rutgers this year and you've already qualified for the fictional playoffs (all hypothetically speaking or course). Winning your last two games could mean the difference between you getting a higher seed and getting to play Wake Forest or someone you have a prayer against, OR losing, getting the lower seed, and having to get squashed by Ohio State in the first round.

This goes for Ohio State too. Beating Michigan in that last game of the year could be the difference between being a #1 seed and having an easy road to the title game, and being a #2 or #3 seed and facing a tougher road to the title.

By the way, IMO, if you had a college football playoff you'd have to knock a game or two off the regular season and make it 16 teams. This would actually make the regular season mean more because teams would be fighting hard to get the highest seed to play the 13-16th seeded cream puffs.

Yo said...

The spilt national championship was LSU and USC, not Auburn and USC.

JC said...

I understand the spirit of your point about the Michigan-OSU game, but do you honestly think either side is going to rest or let up for that game? No one wants to lose in that game, regardless of the circumstances.

Also, your point about the Cards doesnt hold either because they actually won their division. Sure, they're a crappy division champ, but a division champ nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

Yo, If you're referring to my post I wasn't talking about the split national championship - I was talking about Auburn going undefeated and not having a shot at the national chamionship.

Anonymous said...

Nevermind, yo. Just caught what you were getting at. My bad.

Jason said...

Ryan, did you get my email with my post?

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