Tuesday, December 4, 2007

12-4-07: The BCS

Big win for the Patriots last night. It came down to the wire, but they somehow pulled it off. Even if they lose one game, at least they’re making it fun.

Well, the BCS bowl selections came out the other day, and, as usual, there are flaws in the system. I’m not a huge college football fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I can see why a lot of people get pissed off every year. In particular, I can see why fans of Missouri are upset. They got robbed.

I understand why the BCS exists. It is incredibly difficult to determine which teams are better than which since there are so many leagues. The rankings take many things into account, including coaches’ polls, AP polls, number of losses, computer rankings, and strength of schedule. But, despite all of this, a simple head-to-head matchup doesn’t seem to have a lot of effect on the system. That’s why Kansas is in a BCS bowl and not Missouri. That makes for some good complaint fuel for Missouri fans.

The strange thing is how, no matter how many people call out for a playoff, it never sticks. They say “It makes the season too long,” or “it’s not necessary; the system works.” Let me pick on those two.

First, the season is long as it is with the bowl games being played in January, and it doesn’t help the teams who have to wait that long. Ohio State is going to go 51 days between their last regular season game and the BCS National Championship game on January 7th. Fifty one days. No games. Do you think they’re going to be at their sharpest? Does it really do the system justice? Wouldn’t the season be just as long with two games in between? Even with the extra week because of other league championships, it could work. Pick the top eight or so teams from various polls and have them go into a playoff. You could even keep the BCS rankings intact and use those. Have three rounds: quarterfinals on the second Saturday in December; semifinals on the third Saturday; championship game in early January. You’d think players who go on to handle a 17 week season in the NFL would be able to handle the extra two games, right?

The second point, that a playoff would be unnecessary, is just wrong. I remember a few years ago there being co-national champions. Two champions! Lame! Shouldn’t the winner of the National Championship be… the National Champion? Well, ideally, but it depends on how big a team wins in another bowl game, and maybe (just maybe) if it rained 3.5 vs. 3.6 inches in Anchorage, Alaska. Maybe. With a playoff, it’d be all head-to-head. Put all of the games in neutral sites. Keep all the lower bowls intact and pump some money into the playoff.

The real issue is money. There’s simply too much money in the bowl system now to justify any real change. Not enough people are pissed off at the flaws to spend any serious money to fix them. I guess that’s what you get with top-notch AMATEUR athletics. But seriously, if all other major college sports thrive on a playoff system, just look at the money that schools rake in during March Madness, and the NFL uses one, why can’t college football do a playoff?

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