Monday, December 1, 2008

BCS: Beyond Crap, Seriously

The last time I wrote an article about the Bowl Championship Series, someone correctly pointed out that attacking it was beating a dead horse. Everyone knows that the BCS is garbage and fails most spectacularly in the exact situations it was supposedly designed to handle. The problem is that, as long as lunacy rules college football, those of us who fancy ourselves fans have no other option.

As long as the BCS exists, we must try to destroy it because the alternative is to develop a callous to its effects that could swell to total disinterest following the wrong chain of events.

For instance, how bitter would you be if you're a Missouri fan and Texas somehow ends up winning the BCS-part of the National Championship? Without even playing in the Big 12 Championship game. If Mizzu and Alabama both win their respective conference title games, it could happen.

It's highly unlikely, bumping right up against impossible. But it could happen.

Or what if Alabama loses a close game to Florida this weekend while Mizzu beats Oklahoma? Presumably Texas goes to the BCS "championship" over a one-loss Crimson Tide. Maybe they don't, but we can be pretty sure that 'bama won't be going since we can't have rematches in a BCS game.

I digress.

The abject failure of the BCS in that regard is old news. So I'm going to point out some deeper problems that get lost in the glare of that supernova o' failure:

1. The rules governing the other BCS games are almost as miserable.

Each year brings the problem of crowning a national champ. What gets lost in the maelstrom that rightly accompanies that usual disaster is the other games. Those invite schools based on criteria that are almost as asinine. This year is no different.

This will not go over well in Columbus, but it's disgusting that a two-loss Ohio State team seems destined for a BCS game while two undefeated schools get rerouted to lesser games. Lesser games with lesser exposure and lesser paydays.

Maybe OSU is better than Boise State, but that's not the reason the BCS will tab the Buckeyes. Nope, that's all 'bout the Benjamins.

By now, most people know that a non-BCS conference champ is eligible for a BCS game by finishing in the top 10 of the BCS rankings. But eligibility only becomes a guarantee when there is only one such school. This year there are two such schools in the top 10 and they are both undefeated (Utah and Boise State).

But there is a third protagonist. Ball State sits with its undefeated record and magical quarterback, Nate Davis, outside the top 10. They aren't even eligible for a BCS game.

It's just plain wrong.

Both States will almost certainly get screwed out of a reward that both schools richly deserve. Boise and Ball defeated every and any school they could convince to play them this year. Until a school can force another to play it, the kids don't deserve to be penalized because the big boys are too scared to schedule them.

2. The BCS promotes and rewards cowardice in the strongest programs.

If you are a legitimate national title contender from a BCS conference, it makes absolutely no sense to schedule a rough, nonconference game. None. Ohio State gets hammered as the perfect example of this because they've ridden the strategy to humiliations in the title game.

That's a bit unfair because the Buckeyes are not the only school employing it, they've just been successful.

Check out the seven schools from BCS conferences in the BCS top 10. Only USC and Ohio State played each other and that loss did wonders to derail the latter's season. Other than those two schools, only Oklahoma and Penn State played anyone of consequence outside conference.

Furthermore, TCU, Cincinnati, and Oregon State aren't exactly going to intimidate you with history and tradition.

The other schools all played cupcakes and one or two mediocre schools from power conferences. That makes perfect sense, especially considering the unbalanced schedules and lack of title games in some BCS conferences. All you really have to do is navigate your power conference and you're promised a pot of BCS gold at the end of the conference schedule rainbow.

Some years, you don't even have to play the most dangerous schools in the conference.

So why in the hell would you ever risk an Appalachian State? Why would you invite Utah or BYU or Ball State or Boise State or some other legitimate threat into your home? And going there? Out of the question. It makes no sense to do so in the BCS system.

There is only risk and no reward since the ultimate prize doesn't require the risk.

3. The BCS virtually locks out the non-power conferences.

We all know that it's virtually impossible for a non-BCS conference champ to sneak into the title game. Point 1 shows how the rules for the other BCS games work to ensure that a maximum of one school (if any) from a non-power conference will appear per year. And point 2 shows how the BCS system rewards the champs for denying the challengers their shots.

Really, point 2 does all the work.

By allowing the BCS schools easy access to the ultimate prize without forcing them to venture outside their conferences, the BCS virtually tells them not to schedule the up-and-comers. By denying the rising programs access to the very opponents that will allow them entry into the top 10, the BCS essentially caps their upward mobility.

They basically have to go undefeated to get into the top 10 and, even then, there is no chance of ever playing for the Crystal Football.

And it's only gonna get worse.

As more schools figure out there's no upside to scheduling the Utahs of the college football world, an undefeated season from a non-BCS conference champ will carry even less water. Plus, there will be more clutter atop the power conferences and, consequently, more power-clutter atop the BCS rankings.

That means no room for the little guys.

4. The BCS is completely at odds with the "mission" of the NCAA.

The premium placed on education by the NCAA is one of the ugliest and most obvious lies ever told. According to that fatuous association, education is paramount and sports exist as a means to further that education. It's all about the kids, nurturing their intellectual development and maturation.

Those piles and piles of tax-free dollars are just a nice little ancillary benefit.

Except they dictate who gets to play where and when and against whom in the BCS. It's got nothing to do with competition or the kids or furthering anything but bank accounts. That's why Notre Dame gets to go every year they're eligible. That's why Ohio State gets to go this year rather than Boise State. That's why we won't see Alabama against Florida, even if they are the two best teams in the country.

Furthermore, who gets the better education: the kid playing for Ball State or the man-child playing for Florida?

If any program is going to stay true to the NCAA's empty mission statement, it is one with kids who are far less likely to play on Sundays. It is not a program like Florida or Ohio State or Oklahoma, programs that are more NFL factories than academic institutions. It is one like Ball State or Utah or Boise State, programs where the kids have to find something other than football on which to stake their livelihood.

And these are the very schools that the Bowl Championship Series has frozen out of its club.

A playoff system solves all these problems. It replaces the exclusive money-grab of BCS games that decide nothing with one attached to meaningful games. It allows sexier non-conference scheduling because a loss or two is no longer as fatal. It brings smaller conferences into the fold and realigns (kind of) college football with its supposed goal.

Most of all, it settles the matter of the National Champion ON THE FIELD.

I'll close with that, one last good kick to the dead horse.

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