|Time to Bust the BCS
A year ago today, I believed the 2008 college football season provided the best possible evidence for a play-off system.
There were four one loss teams (Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, USC) and one undefeated team (Utah) who could all make legitimate arguments that they belonged in the national title game.
I was wrong. In terms of proving that the BCS is the most ridiculous abomination in all of sports, 2008 pales in comparison to 2009.
As we head into the bowl season with five undefeated teams, it has never been clearer that the BCS is a politicized, discriminatory and unjust method of determining a national champion. This also happened in 2004.
After dismantling Florida, no one can argue that Alabama was the best team in the 2009 regular season and deserves its slot in Pasadena. Going 13-0 in the deepest conference in college football earns you that right.
Texas, also 13-0 and champions of the second deepest conference, nailed down the second spot by narrowly avoiding a Nebraska ambush. Ironically, the Longhorns' inclusion in the title game is causing almost as much controversy as their exclusion did last year.
Fans of TCU, Cincinnati and Boise State, joined by bloggers and pundits across the country, are screaming that one of these squads, not Texas, should be playing the Crimson Tide on January 7th.
Texas fans counter that their team beat everyone that was put in front of them and held serve all year.
So who is right?
If you are a BCS apologist, there is no clear cut answer. On the other hand, if you are one of the growing number of fans who believes the best team should be determined on the field, you recognize that this is one of those rare situations where everyone has a valid argument.
As an alumni of the University of Texas, and an ardent supporter of the Longhorns, I empathize with the frustration the folks in Fort Worth, Idaho and southwestern Ohio are no doubt feeling. I experienced it last year when a team Texas beat by ten points on a neutral field leapfrogged us in the final BCS poll.
The feeling this year, when the Longhorns are the beneficiary of the system is only slightly better because I know, no matter what happens in the Rose Bowl, there will always be a question mark.
This frustration is compounded by the fact that none of us should have to feel like this. There is a better way.
Proponents of the bowl system usually put forth sentimental three arguments in favor of this antiquated tradition;
1. The debate that results from having sportswriter and computers pick the national champion is good for college football. It is interesting, thought provoking, and makes for lively debates that can last for generations.
2. The play-offs would interfere with the players' final exams.
3. The bowl system is a great reward for the players and fans. It also encourages civic pride and economic stimulation for the host cities.
4. Half of the teams invited to bowl games get to end their season on a winning note, creating a positive feeling in those programs. It is better to have 34 teams go out as winners than just one.
Some of these claims are preposterous, particularly the academic angle. These players have an army of tutors at their disposal and enjoy advantages in the classroom that the average student will never know. Besides, it does not appear to be a problem with the smaller divisions who actually have play-offs.
To be fair, some of these are good arguments. However, I would rather see a true national champion, determined by head-to-head competition on the field, than engage in a spirited debate as to whether USC or Auburn had the better team in 2004.
In a perfect world, there would be a 32 team tournament, with the champions of the 11 FBS conferences receiving automatic bids. They remaining 21 teams, and the seedings, will be chosen by the AP poll.
That will mean a total of 31 post-season games with national championship implications, as opposed to the one such game we have now. These will be spread out among existing bowl games and will rotate each year.
At present, there are 34 registered bowl games, so we only have to eliminate three. If a school does not make the field of 32, it sits at home. There will be no more bowl games matching teams with 6-6 records who finished eighth in their conference.
Think of the great match-ups we would have: TCU-Texas, Cincinnati — Ohio State, and Boise State — Florida. The money and fan interest such a scenario would produce would be unmatched. Imagine "March Madness" taken to the tenth power.
Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. And the reality is this — the greatest sport in the country will continue to crown its champions in the worst possible way.