Kill the BCS!





Kill the BCS!


Tonight is Florida vs. Oklahoma, the BCS title game, and you know what that means. As has become a venerated annual tradition--like the Pope's Easter Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano, or Simon and Randy pretending that Paula is not a space alien--I will now bitch about the BCS.

My rantings and ravings on the BCS--the cynically packaged "three lies for the price of one" Bowl Championship Series--is the stuff of legend. Take a look at a paragraph I wrote in a column back in '03:


Most importantly, though, is the hated BCS. For those of you living under rocks (even fraggle rocks), The BCS is the system the NCAA came up with to determine its Division 1 football champion. The BCS combines aspects of the stock market, politics, and voodoo, to give us these formulas that would make Einstein give up math and just read pornography. Every other college sport, including the other divisions of college football, can come up with a playoff to determine its champion. The NCAA doesn’t want to because of the money. Well, let’s hit them where they live. I want George Bush to threaten to cut federal funding to every school that participates in this vile institution. That will get some people moving in a hurry.


If anything, I have only grown more bitter. (Bitterer?)

However, this time I come not (just) to bury the BCS, but to offer a solution. A real solution, too, not just some pie-in-the-sky Cloud Talk.



Nice sentiment? Maybe. Realistic? Not so much.


My goal is to explain the origins of the BCS and my objections to it. I will then and crushingly refute the arguments against changing the system, then offer an alternative so elegant that you may find yourself weeping. If at the end of this treatise you are convinced your job is to pass the word on to as many people as possible, preferably influential sports people, so that change might come. (And possibly I get famous.) If you are not a fan of college football, read on anyway. You might learn something useful, and at the very least I promise to throw in plenty of snarky pop-culture references to keep you entertained.




THE BCS - WHAT IS IT AND CAN I BLAME THE ECONOMY FOR IT?

Simply put, the BCS is a yearly slate of five Bowl Games, meant to bring the public the "best match-ups," and more importantly, a definitive #1 vs. #2 in major college football.

But maybe that's too much for you, so let's back up a bit.

You have heard of college, right? Well, in these colleges (or universities, as some of the more hoity-toity like to be called), they often do athletics, and those athletics need to be regulated. Most of the bigger schools are in the National College Athletic Association, or NCAA. You might have heard of the NCAA: they bring us the single best sporting event on earth: March Madness. Every year 65 college basketball teams battle like women over the last Clearance-Aisle Prada handbag to crown a champion. (Even if you're a committed sportsophobe, you have probably filled out a bracket at work.)

You would think that the organization that brought us the incomparable March Madness could do the same for college football, which actually has far more fans. And, for three of its tiers, you'd be right. Schools in NCAA Division II and Division III play every year for a chance to win the title, as does the Division IFCS; the ridiculously named Football Championship Subdivision. (It used to be known as Division 1AA, until someone--and I'm guessing it was a mushy type--engaged in doublespeak.)

However, the Division we care about is Division I FBS, the Football Bowl Subdivision, and if you have spotted that the word championship is missing, you have latched on to the problem.



No Championship for you!



Unfortunately, the FBS tier (from here one called Division I, since I am not pansy) contains most of the bigger schools you have actually heard of, the ones you watch on TV. For years college football fans didn't have playoffs; they had Bowl Games. Every January 1 (and as time went on, spreading out to different days in December, which will be key later, so pay attention!), Division I football teams got together and played in some ridiculously named Bowl.

There were the traditional ones: Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, but increasingly there were new ones as well, Poinsettia Bowl, Holiday Bowl, Humanitarian Bowl, Cherry Bowl, Cigar Bowl, Bluebonnet Bowl, Poi Bowl, Refrigerator Bowl, Salad Bowl, Vulcan Bowl. (I swear on my mother's life I did not make any of these up. I was going to throw in a few joke ones, but why bother when the real games are so funny?)



Coming Soon: the Toilet Bowl (game to be played in Lincoln Nebraska)


Even more absurd is that all of the current bowls are "affiliated" with sponsors, so that you get mouthfuls like the Gaylord City Hotels Bridgestone Music City Bowl (played in Nashville TN, in case you're in the area).

Like I said, for a long time these bowls were what we had. They were a tradition, and no one really questioned it. However, also following "tradition," many of the bowls were hooked up with various college conferences, taking the best team (or second best, or sixth best, or whatever) from that conference. This meant that quite often the very best teams each year would not get to play each other in these Bowls, and a national champion, instead of being decided on the field like every other sport, was decided by voters, who usually selected the school closest to them. (I am not making that up, either.)

Eventually enough people started to complain, and the BCS was born. The idea was to ensure that the best teams would actually get to play each other, and that college football (Division IFBS) would finally have a true champion.

Sounds great, huh? What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, everything.

For you see, the NCAA--and I want to be careful what I say here, for libel reasons--is run by a bunch of gutless buzzards who likely sold poisoned milk to school children. They did not and have not ever addressed the problem. Instead, the "solution" came from the colleges and the bowls themselves.



The NCAA was here



What happened is that six of the conferences (the Big 10, the Big 12, the Pac 10, the SEC, the ACC and the Big East) got together with four of the Bowl Games (the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl) to create the BCS. Granted, those six conferences were at the time generally the biggest and usually the best, and the four Bowls were bigger than the others.

But what happened was that the system was set up to ensure that the marquee match-ups every Bowl season would be from these six conferences, and the the champion as well. To put this in chick terms (in case any of them are still reading), this would be like having Miss America, but only allowing 5'9" 110 pound blond girls from California, Florida or Texas to compete.

Maybe that's a bad example. Try this: Let's say that Harvard was only going to admit rich private school kids from New England.....

Hmm.....

Okay, one more. Let's say that America was going to hold a presidential election. And since all of the presidents (so far) have been white and male, and the vast majority have been rich, only rich white males could run. Two years ago you'd have lumped this example in with the rest, but I do believe I heard a YES WE CAN!



Barack Obama: the Utah Utes of 2008


The six BCS-Conferences contain 65 schools, and most of the best teams usually hail from one of them. But Division I has 120 teams, and 55 of them were virtually getting shut out each year.

After several non-BCS conference teams went undefeated the BCS grudgingly tweaked its set-up to allow a non-BCS school in, provided they were in the top 12 in the BCS rankings, and were undefeated. (Thank you, Massa!)

Even that was a crock. This year, two teams finished the regular season undefeated, but with the rules only requiring one team allowed in (Utah), Boise State got shut out. (And lest you laugh and think "Boise State, who cares?" you should know that two years ago Boise State got in by this very rule and beat Oklahoma in a BCS game.)

The bigger problem is that there are five BCS games, and even if one non-BCS school is allowed in, that school has ZERO chance of playing for the national championship game.

This isn't just theoretical. This year Alabama was #1 a good portion of the year, and went through the regular season undefeated. (They lost the SEC championship game to Florida 31-20, in what was a super close game right to the end.) 12-1 Alabama went to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, where they played a de facto home game against the 12-0 Utah Utes.

This Utah team was no slouch. They'd beaten several excellent teams during the year, and a few years ago made it into a BCS game (via the undefeated rule) and beat a BCS team. Anyway, Utah plays the mighty Alabama, and they crush them 31-17. (The score might seem similar to the Alabama Florida game, but I watched both and trust me: it wasn't.)

So, tonight Florida, which lost one game, and who got into the BCS title game by beating Alabama, has a chance to be National Champion by beating Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Utah, WHO WON EVERY SINGLE GAME, and who crushed Alabama in their Bowl Game, gets to sit around a hope to make it to #5.



"It's just not fair!"



And this has happened many times. Virtually every year an undefeated team (sometimes more than one) gets left out of the title game.

And this isn't even to mention another huge problem: every year several BCS schools don't make it to the title game because of the complicated formula used to determine the two teams that get to play for the title. When there is only two, you're ALWAYS going to be leaving out teams that are just as worthy.

(Had we the time I could give you 20 examples or more, but suffice it to say that in the 10 years of the BCS, not a single season has gone by without at least one team finishingundefeated (but left out), or several worthy big schools left to cool their heels. The BCS makes the Electoral College, the UN Security Council, Oscar Voting and American Idol look like models of virtue and decency.)


My point is the the BCS is patently unfair. And it needs to be changed. What major college football needs is what pro football has. What every other Division in college has. What every other sport has: a tournament at the end of the season, taking the best teams, and allowing them to play to see who is #1.

Playoffs.

So the question is, why has this not happened?

No matter what reasons you might have heard (and we'll get to those), there is only one "real" reason college football can't seem to get its act together, and it is the same reason most people do anything. See if you can figure it out.


Is this too much of a hint?



The BCS was created by four of the Bowl Games, which stand to make A TON OF MONEY for having the biggest attraction in college football. (There used to just be four games, and the championship would rotate among the four. Now there are five games, but instead of bringing another Bowl on board, all four Bowl games play regularly, then one of the Bowls doubles up and hosts the championship. You gotta love greed.)

As for the schools, every team that makes it to a BCS Bowl Game makes millions for it's conference. (This year it's 17.5 million per school per game, which gets divided up by whatever conference the school comes from.)

The way the BCS is set up, all six conferences get an automatic spot for their "conference champion." The other four spots are "at large" selections, with the Bowl Games allowed to pick whoever it wants (with that undefeated exception we talked about earlier.) This means--AT MOST--one non-title game spot will go to a non-BCS school, while 9 of the spots will go to BCS schools. (It wouldn't have to be that way, by rules, but every year it has been, so it might as well be a rule.)

If it were just about shutting people out of exclusive Bowl Games, that would suck, but that's life. However, since the so-called champion comes out of this BCS system, it becomes unfair. How do you tell a team that goes 11-1 (like Texas this year) that they don't get to play for the title, but Oklahoma (also one loss, and WHO LOST TO TEXAS) does get to. And how do you tell a team like Utah, which won all of its games, that they don't have a shot to be #1?


How can you say no to him?



I don't know what the exact numbers are, but I would say most college football fans would like to see a playoff. There are, however, obstacles. Some of them are real, some are imaginary. Let us look at the main ones before I outline my plan.




Objection #1 - A playoff tournament would "devalue" the regular season

The argument here is that college football's regular season operates as a de facto playoff, since losing 1 game can knock you out of consideration, and losing two games almost certainly does. To be sure, college football has has some amazingly awesome regular season games the last few seasons, and critics charge that a playoff (whether it be 4 teams or 8 or 16) would make those games less meaningful.

With all due respect to people who charge this, they clearly don't know the first thing about math.



An obvious BCS supporter



First of all, the games themselves are exciting because of the games themselves. The high quality of play and the drama come from the competitors and the competition, and that doesn't go anywhere. What we (as fans) bring to the game might change our perception of it, but the games stand on their own merits.

But as to those "perceptions": adding a playoff would not reduce the number of potentially exciting games (at least as far as playoff implications go), it would dramatically increase it. Right now only two teams make the Championship game, which means that after about 5 or 6 games, only a few teams have a realistic shot at making it, and only a few games "matter," as far as title-implications. However, if you were to have, say, a 12 team playoff, you would have dramatically more teams potentially "alive" to make it in.

Currently, 1 loss is huge, and 2 losses are virtually a death-knell. It might still be impossible in a playoff to make it in with 2 losses, but maybe not. Stumbling a little bit at the beginning would not automatically cripple a team's hopes. They could still have a chance at making it in if they played like fire down the stretch. This would in turn bring more hope to millions of fans of those particular teams, but more importantly, exponentially more games would have playoff implications.

No longer would it just be to see if #1 and #2 could hold on, and could #3 move up. Now you would have as many as 30 teams that might have a real shot of making the tournament deep into the season. So many more games would have added drama. Fans of smaller teams and fans of the sport would be big winners. It's true that a battle of two 9-0 teams might not knock one out of the running, but think about how many 7-2 vs. 7-2 gamesjust got more interesting.

I don't know I can state this more plainly: a playoff system heightens--not lessens--the value of the regular season, and increases the number of teams and games that matter.




Objection #2 - A playoff would add too many games/playing too far into January

The second part of that objection is easy. As we will see, I don't propose starting the playoffs with the January 1 Bowl Games. That would be the end. The playoffs would happen in December. Right now there is no major sporting event in December. College football would completely own the country. You think March Madness is big? Try December Delirium.

As for playing too many games: first off, teams used to only play 11 games. No reason why we couldn't go back there. But even if we kept it at 12, only a few teams are going to play more than one more game. Yes, this extends the season, but I think they can handle it. Right now they play no games in December, which often leads to strange results in January (playing after a 40 day layoff). This wouldn't be a big issue.



Objection #3 - The December Games would come during Finals

Not all schools hold Finals in December; some are in January. And even for the majority that are in December, student-athletes have always balanced school and work. This is a patently false argument anyway. In general student athletes are much better students than regular students, because they have to be disciplined to divide up their time. Football players, however, are often students in name only. If you're going to get mad about that (and don't let me stop you), you should do so before now. They can figure out a way to play these games and still do finals. Again, remember: only a few teams would advance down to the end games.



Objection #4 - The Playoffs would destroy the Bowl System

Right now there are 34 Bowls. That means 68 teams get post-season play. What integrity is even left? The real answer, though, is that the Bowls can continue just as they are. They do now, even with the BCS, and do just fine. (More on this in my solution below.)




Objection #5 - There are still going to be arguments about who gets left out

I acknowledge that any time there is a cut-off decided by human factors (like polls and computers), you will have teams on the outside looking in. However, consider: if we had a 12 team playoff, then the teams on the outside would be #13 and #14. They might have a gripe, but that's a whole lot better than right now, where #3-5 are left out in the cold. Giving a dozen teams a chance to play for #1 is much fairer than picking just two, and I think there there would be far less argument with a cutoff at twelve. A more legitimate argument (not just for the playoffs, but for how they do it now), is that the BCS selection system is insane. I agree, but again: giving more teams a shot at a title can only help matters!



Objection #6 - Non-BCS Conference Teams don't deserve a shot because they don't play as tough a schedule


This is one of those self-serving arguments that is so stupid you want to throw something. Big schools already have all the advantage in the world. They have bigger name recognition. They have more ability to recruit athletes. They have more money. They have more boosters, willing to "grease the wheels" of big-name players. They are even on TV most of the time, which leads to the better recruiting.

Into that we throw the smaller-name schools. like Utah or a Boise State. Do you know why they often have a worse schedule? Because the "big" schools will never play them! Teams are terrified of playing "lesser" schools, especially on the road. I guarantee you that if the NCAA made the schedule (instead of teams themselves), and required the big boys to actually play at the small guys sometimes you'd see the disparity abate dramatically. This year the lowly Mountain West Conference could have held its own (and then some) against anyone. This objection is ridiculous, and again: This Tournament Idea is not a Manifesto to crash the party with all small schools. There are plenty of big school teams that get hosed every year. The goal is to make things more fair.



Objection #7 - There is a current TV Contract in place through 2014


Yes, but the Contract could be rewritten. ESPN would happily make adjustments to get this type of ratings boost, and even if they had to sacrifice a little, as a proponent of Sport they wouldn't stand in the way if a playoff were really apossibility.


ESPN: They'd do the right thing



Objection #8 - The Logistics of moving teams (and fans) to around to playoff games would be impossible

This is the only objection that has any real merit. Lugging a football team around is a big undertaking, and when you add in traveling fans, etc., you come up with some real hurdles. One solution is to have the early games played at "home" sites, which is a possibility, but not one I favor. I have worked it through several times and think I can answer this. (More in my solution.)



Objection #9 - A true Playoff system will never happen because it's about money, and neither the Bowls or the BCS conferences want to give that up

How right you are. This is where I separate myself from the pack. In previous years I just ranted and raved about how awful the BCS is. This time around I put a lot of thought into it, specifically along the lines of, "Is there a Playoff system out there that would allow the current power structure to maintain their position but still afford a more fair competition with the hope of crowning a National Champion?"


I think there is. Here is my plan. (Finally!)






HYPERION'S PLAN FOR A NCAA DIVISION I (FOOTBALL BOWL SUBDIVISION) PLAYOFF TOURNAMENT, OR WHAT HE IS CALLING


DECEMBER DELIRIUM




No! The good kind of Delirium



1. The number of regular season games is capped, and all games must be completed by the beginning of December. Personally I would like them to go back to 11 games, but 12 at the most. This holds down the potential number of games, and lets December Delirium start in December. (You're going to need the whole month, for reasons that will be made clear shortly.)


2. No team is eligible for post-season play if they play more than half of their games at home, or if they play a non-Division I school. This is the greatest disparity right now in College Football. It is TOUGH to win on the road. Last year every single BCS-Conference team played 7 or 8 games at home...out of 12! It's beyond ridiculous. It's patently unfair, and it must stop. Surely the NCAA can act on this one. Make the big boys play more on the road, and most of their superiority goes away.

As for playing little schools, it's absurd. Mighty Florida goes for the title tonight. Do you know who they played at home on November 22? The Citadel. Florida somehow managed to eke out a 70-19 victory. (Not any better was Oklahoma, who played at home to Tenn-Chattanooga on August 30, winning 57-2.)



3. The Tournament is either 10 teams or 12. Those who can divide say, "Hey...how does that lead to 1?" The answer is that the very best teams would get a bye.

Let's say there were 12 teams. The top four would get a bye into round two. The other eight would play each other, and those four winners would face the four bye teams, and so on down to 1.

If you went with 10 teams, you would give six teams a bye, and have four play a "wild card" game. I prefer 12. Here's a look at how the Top 12 in the BCS might have been slated in a Tournament.



Admit it: The idea is jaw-droppingly awesome



4. To protect the BCS school interests, each BCS-Conference gets an automatic qualifier for the first four years of the Tournament, provided they are in the Top 25. This protects the current position BCS schools have, but allows for some reasonableness if the teams are just awful. (For example, this year the Big East and theACC were terrible.) After four years the twelve spots would just be "open," but in most situations I think the Conference winner of one of those big Conferences is going to get in. Perhaps once the automatic spot disappears, there could be a partial payment (from the tournament fund) for the conference left out.



Feels sleazy, but if it gets the deal done....




The important thing to note here is that with a 12 team playoff, there are six at-large bids, and no maximum on how many bids each conference can get. (Right now only two teams from each of the big conferences can get in, which kept 11-1 Texas Tech out this year.) The six spots could and would go to any BCS eligible school, as well as any who are not.



5. Any team finishing Undefeated gets in, provided they meet the requirements of Rule #2. This would be the only chance the really small schools would have, but it's hard to tell a team that just won all their games they can't compete for a championship.




6. The 11 playoff games would be played in current Bowl Game sites, while the other Bowls go on as they do now. The four current BCS Bowls aren't getting shut out. In fact, you could make a rule that only those four could host the semi-finals and finals for the first four years, protecting them. All we're doing is adding a few more. The Cotton Bowl is definitely worthy. The Gator Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl, Outback Bowl, Holiday Bowl and several others could also handle the logistics.

The secret is: they could keep their Bowl Game title. They would just be part of this great Tournament. The extra 7 Bowls picked would be in warm-weather cities (which fans love), and spread out around the country (helping travel.) All of the cities already can handle big crowds coming down, because they host Bowl Games now. You see what I'm saying? It wouldn't be difficult to make the adjustment.

As to the hurdle of getting fans there: you stagger the games as much as possible. You don't have to play every game on a Saturday, and you could make it so that every team got a few more days to figure out where they are going.

It would be more difficult, but somehow college basketball fans make it work. (Especially if you knew the dates and places of the potential playoff games if your team advances.) Again, as I have said over and over again: only a few teams are going to advance through the ranks, so we're not talking about the Diaspora here.

Teams with byes would have an extra week (or more) for fans to get tickets and make travel arrangements, and as for the idea that fans wouldn't want to travel to several different sites...

Uh, have you met college football fans?



They may not make it to the altar, but they'll make it to the game


There isn't a more die-hard group on the planet (except maybe English Soccer fans). When I worked at Delta there were always hundreds of people who flew to wherever their team was playing that week. These weren't even rich people, just fans who made the sacrifice.

I think the excitement and buzz of a major college football tournament would overshadow even the NFL playoffs. (The Super Bowl might still be bigger, but the college tournament as a whole would pass it.) December Delirium would rival the World Cup. I think the Bowls would have no trouble selling their tickets without a full month's notice, and the fans would be more than happy to have the "problem" of still playing for a national championship.

America has never seen anything like this.


Well, I think I have answered every question. Shot down every argument, rebutted all hatred, and more importantly: I have created a solution that protects the integrity of competition while respecting the people not looking to give up the current system (because of money).

If you agree, please send this to everyone you know. It's not enough that having a playoffs would be "fair." We must make it work financially for those already hogging the bacon, and I think I have done just that.



Hyperion
January 8, 2009


Painting at top: "Pigskin Glory" by Todd Schorr. See more of his work at ToddSchorr.com.






All in a day's work. (hint hint)

11 comments:

Bogart said...

A long-time sports fan, even I had become befuddled by the BCS wranglings on ESPN and the like. What a relief that someone has finally had the guts to yell, "The BCS emperor has NO CLOTHES!"

Grant said...

Overall I think your ideas are outstanding and seem to be a very solid solution. The only thing with your plan that I could see as BCSesque drama would be determining what 4 teams get the byes. In your scenario Texas was #5and would have to play in the first round, Hook em Horns fans would not be happy. With byes that would probably be determined by some kind of computer formula that would still create drama. With this said it would still be a great thing for all football fans and your plan is outstanding..

zehcnaseoj said...

well put. I think eventually this will happen and then I will be angry looking back at the first part of my life and how it was a total waste of non-playoff emptiness. (and I'm dead serious).

However, I would ammend down to 8 teams. 3 extra games. Yes, a BCS team probably doesn't get in. But for every conference not represented one year, there will be a cinderella story for that same conference another year.

One thing to consider is that even 3 extra games could give a season total of 15 games -- one shy of the pro season. Neither baseball of basketball has that kind of ratio comparing college to pro seasons. I think a 4th round is a camel killer.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing saying Utah can't ditch the Mountain West, build a big stadium, upgrade their faculty, and then join another major conference. They could also become independent. FSU and Miami built great programs that worked hard to compete for National Titles. I see you want to cheapin' the Title and process with your bootleg football giveaways.

Anonymous said...

I agree, but I think a major problem is not answered in the "finals time" objection. One of the best things about college football is that it is college, and students deserve to be a part of their football team's success. These are the die-hard fans you refer to, and if the game is during finals they get little out of it. I assume you went to college, and as for me personally, if the COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS were during my finals I would fail them miserably. I'm sure if you looked at my grades during March Madness you would notice a decline in work ethic, thanks especially to the wonderful technology that lets me watch games in class. The difference is March Madness is probably the slowest time of the semester, coinciding with spring break even

Anonymous said...

who would win the conference spot? the conference championship winner or the regular season winner - not all conferences have a "conference championship"

Hyperion said...

You people raise some good points, so I'm going to answer them if I can.

Bogart - Thanks for the support, baby!

Grant - I agree there will always be SOME drama when computers/humans control anything, but I think a playoff would alleviate much. In my specific example I didn't spend a whole lot of time working out the seeding. I just took the top 12 teams in the final pre-Bowl BCS standings and slotted them in, starting with the four teams (at that point, prior to the Florida/Oklahoma game) that had the best claim to #1.

Now that I think about it, Texas would of course bitch and moan about not getting a bye. However, since I based my plan on the current reality, the simple answer is that as long as we're "guaranteeing" spots to the BCS-Conference champions, reasonably I think a non Conference winner should not be able to get a bye, which leaves Texas out of the bye, but at least gives them a chance to compete.

zehcnaseoj - The reason I have 12 teams (instead of 8) is that I am trying to balance the current reality of keeping the six BCS-Conference champions. In my world there's no way the ACC, Big East and Big 10 (at least this year) get an automatic spot, but the only way those six conferences would for this is if they keep their spot.

Potentially (if both wild card teams made it), there would be four extra games, which could be 15 or 16 (depending on the cap for the season). That's a lot, but consider: it would only be two teams at most that would play that many. I think teams would love that chance. Any team that advanced through this tournament would get a gold-mine in recruiting and exposure. There would be some who would complain about the extra game, but it balances the competing interests.


Anonymous #1 - I've got news for you. In a sense, that's exactly what Utah did. the MWC is only 10 years old, and this year it was as good or better than just about anyone during the regular season. Check out their winning percentage against other conferences, against Bowl teams and Top 25 teams. (The MWC site has a great page of comparisons.) This year the MWC came in second (to the Big 12) or tied for second (with the SEC) in most categories. They went 6-1 against the Pac 10. True, the Pac 10 showed up in Bowl games, which isn't nothing, but I think any thinking person can agree that Bowl games are so far removed from the regular season (right now), that they don't reflect total reality.

The problem is that the MWC, or any non-BCS conference is never going to get the respect, and therefore the national exposure and the recruiting power that goes along with that, of the big guys. And even if they did, they are SHUT OUT of the BCS by rule! The BCS is not an NCAA product. It's a product of those six conferences and those four Bowls. Imagine for a moment if March Madness worked that way.

Isn't the beauty of March Madness that, no matter now unlikely, a little guy has a chance? That a George Mason can get to the Final 4? The NCAA needs to grow a pair and step up and make college football more fair.


Anonymous #2 - The "die hard" fans I refer to are not students, but adults who will never give up the dream. Your point about finals is funny, but I assume tongue-in-cheek, and not a real reason to keep the playoffs out of December.

By that logic we should cancel Christmas. Actually, to really bring it home, if you want to help students study more, we should take TVs and Internet Access out of college. If you're willing to make that sacrifice we can talk. Otherwise, you're just going to have to suck it up and cut back on redtube and Madden.

Anonymous #3 - To be completely honest (and this wasn't the column for it, so I omitted mentioning it), I'm not a big fan of the conferences, at least in college football. The season is so short as it is, and I would like to see more teams play each other.

People might squawk tradition, and that's a factor, but c'mon: the SEC and Big 12 and Big 10 have all grown, to the point that those conferences don't play a true round robin now.

The four conferences who have a championship (I think it's four) aren't going to want to give up the revenue, but they have to compromise a little. Somehow the Pac 10 and Big 10(11) manage to do it.

Capping the total number of games at 11 or 12 would give conferences a choice: do you limit your entire conference to say, 11 games, so that 2 of them get one extra, or do you let them play 12, and come up with your conference champion like every other conference does?

I'll tell you what I'd like to see: eliminate the conference championship games, and require conference champions to not only have the best record in their conference, but have a stellar non-conference record against good competition as well. It is a joke that teams like Floria and Oklahoma (and they aren't the only ones) routinely schedule Division 1AA (or FCS, but you know what I mean) teams at home.

At the very least, the NCAA should mandate and control the non-conference schedule. How is it that the BCS title game was the FIRST TIME EVER that powerful teams like Florida and Oklahoma had ever played each other? I'll tell you how: Bowl Game alliances and ridiculous non-conference scheduling.

Here's another factor: Right now the 2 teams playing in the conference championships often would be good enough to get into the BCS, but the very act of losing knocks one of them out. This way the conferences have a better shot at scoring more slots in the playoffs.

All - Most of these questions/objections are better than anything you hear on TV. Keep 'em coming!

Chuck Yeager said...

Where'd the picture at the top of the article - the one with the skull wearing an old football cap and the skinned pig, etc. - come from? It's amazing.

Steve said...

I am at complete agreement with your system. Look, for instance, at Texas high school football(I live in Texas but am a gator). To win the state championship here u play at least 15 games, some as many as 17 depending on the size of your district. So the time is not that big a factor. And as to the BCS conferences....phooey on em let em eat crow.

Hyperion said...

Chuck Yeager - The painting is called (I think) "Pigskin Glory" by Todd Schorr, and everything he does is fantastic. Sort of Disney-meets-Dali, by way of Alice's Rabbit Hole. I should put a credit at the end of the article. Thanks for reminding me.

Steve - Fantastic point about state high school football teams. I had not even thought of that. The whole "The season's too long!" argument is bogus from the beginning. As if those people are really concerned with the athletes' academics. If that were the case, there would be pressure to not allow teams to compete in Bowls unless a high percentage of their athletes were graduating and taking reasonably full course loads (and passing them).

Come to think of it, that's a damn good idea. Everyone know it's about the money, but these college presidents like to pretend they are actually educators. I bet they could be guilted into that kind of rule.

I'm going to write a (small) follow-up article on the BCS in a few days. Thanks for the idea.

Saralyn said...

Well, I read the entire thing. Can Hyperion make me think about sports for longer than 5 minutes? Can I get a "Yes he can?"!