The BCS is absolute bedlam, sure.
I doubt many people will argue its perfection, but it has its merits. Personally, I liked the old system where the voters were in complete control because more bowl games actually mattered; at least it was consistently inconsistent. If Georgia Tech beats Nebraska handily in the Citrus Bowl and Washington beats Iowa in the Rose Bowl, then Georgia Tech will get a share of the national title with Colorado if they beat Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl…
But let’s be honest, there’s not a conceivable playoff system out there that will both determine a true national champion while simultaneously filling the coffers of every BCS school (and, of course, Notre Dame).
The NCAA basketball tournament is a billion-dollar, three-weekend event that crowns a true national champion with unrivaled elegance and unscripted suspense. Unfortunately, there’s just no way college football could ever replicate that kind of post-season.
But that’s ok, because the three-month regular season is college football’s billion-dollar spectacle. Almost every Saturday along the way during these three months we the fans get a big game or two (or more, on those rare Saturdays) that means something to the standings. I’m good with that.
The problem with college football is not the controversial method in which it crowns a national champion, but the awkwardness in which it aligns its non-BCS bowls. For the most part, the BCS has gotten it right. And when it misses, the AP is always ready and willing to step in and help out.
Just ask Southern Cal circa 2003.
Sure, there have been some obvious exceptions that triggered much controversy, most notably Miami in 2000 and Auburn in 2004, but the simple fact remains that as long as preseason polls play even the remotest of a factor into the equation this will always be a possibility. It’s the nature of the Beast.
The BCS worked itself out quite well last year; there was little speculation that Southern Cal and Texas were the two best teams. And while Auburn will always feel slighted as the odd man out in 2004 when Southern Cal thrashed Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, there was no definitive argument before that game that Auburn was more deserving than Oklahoma. That game most certainly did not live up to its hype, but as the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.
Would a playoff be better? Of course. But we all know the reasons against a playoff system, and we all know that real reason is money. It really is that simple.
The only gray area here is how they spin it. We all know it’s all about money, the NCAA and athletic directors know that we all know it’s all about money, yet they continue to dispense overly-idealistic rhetoric for excuses when it’s utterly unnecessary.
Seriously, c’mon, would any of us really be all that taken aback if the athletic directors all got on ESPN and told us “Look, knock it off. We’re not ever having a playoff because Corporate America is making us filthy, stinking rich. And you know what else? To be honest, that’s entirely your fault. End of story.”
As surreal and impossible as that scenario would be, they’d be absolutely right; it is definitely our fault. After all, we’re filling their pockets one bag of Tostitos at a time so that we get a load of crappy bowls with undesirable match ups. Be honest: let me see a show of hands from everyone that watched the International Bowl in Toronto this weekend. Ok, Matt, you can put your hand down now, eh.
For as much as we like to argue about it, the BCS isn’t the problem with college football. That’s missing the forest for the trees. The problem with college football is the bowl system itself – the very system that we the fans have created.
How can you try and justify the current system by any other means when the Peach Bowl is now the Chick Fil-A Bowl, the Citrus Bowl is now the Capital One Bowl, and there is no Freedom Bowl or All-American Bowl? (Although I do miss the Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl, which I think may now be the Emerald Bowl, but I’m not sure.)
And allow me to quote Steve Spurrier from the mid-90s, just for fun: “You can’t spell Citrus without U-T.”
My problem with the current quagmire of a bowl system is that due to the ridiculous conference tie-ins, Iowa (6-6) played Texas (9-3) in the Alamo bowl while Rutgers (10-2) – who suffered perhaps the highest fall from grace – played Kansas State (7-5) in the Texas Bowl, broadcast to all eighteen people that have the NFL Network.
My problem with the current bowl system is that Alabama (2-6), Arizona State (4-5), Florida State (3-5), Iowa (2-6), Miami (3-5), Minnesota (3-5), Oklahoma State (3-5), Oregon (4-5), and South Carolina (3-5) all finished with losing conference records. Alabama and Iowa were rewarded for squeaking out an entire two conference wins; both lost their bowl games and finished the season with losing records.
That can be blamed entirely on the bowl tie-ins as well as every diehard fan that made the trip to San Antonio to see Iowa and Shreveport to see Alabama.
This inevitably leads to the issue that how well your fans travel is just as important as how well you finish, which is why there is a bowl pecking order. Ask Boston College, whose fans have a reputation for poor bowl turnouts; BC was thus “rewarded” for a good season with its second Queen City appearance since 2004.
Ask the Gator Bowl how excited they were about having a lackluster Georgia Tech fan base return to Jacksonville a month after losing the ACC championship there in front of a sparse crowd (the Gator Bowl was half-empty Monday as well, reminiscent of a Tech home game).
Ask the Orange Bowl officials if they’re happy that Wake Forest won the ACC and not Virginia Tech? Did you see that guy after the ACC title game trying to act excited that all 4,263 Wake fans would be coming to Miami in a month? (It actually appeared like Wake brought closer to 8,000; my mistake.)
Oh yeah, I have a problem with Western Michigan playing Cincinnati in Toronto, Canada. Seriously?
But I digress. I know that revenue-wise the Motor City Bowl is extremely important to the MAC and the New Mexico Bowl is just as important to the WAC. But for as exciting and great as the college football regular season is every weekend for three months, the current bowl system too often creates wildly undeserving match ups and inevitably renders the college post-season largely anti-climactic.
Is there a better way to make college football’s post-season more exciting? I’m sure there is; it’s fun to discuss, anyway. Do I have that solution? I wish.
After all, I railed on and on about how Boise State had no business in the Fiesta Bowl, so what do I know?