Monday, November 29, 2004

Self-generating controversy

This is what I love about sports journalism: the way the journos generate their own storylines. Case in point, the college football BCS. Anyone with an IQ over 50 knew WHEN IT WAS ESTABLISHED that the BCS had one extra letter. For example, the whole past week on ESPN the questions were how do you fix the BCS when three undefeated major-conference teams are unable to fit into two national title game slots? and when a top 5 team (Texas) loses a big payday to a three-loss Pitt team thanks to the BCS contract? The answer is so obvious, that every other American sport has figured it out: a playoff. Even the soccer world has national title (FA Cup, Scottish Cup, etc.) and international playoffs (World Cup, FA Cup, etc.). For f--- sake, can't anyone just smarten up?

Why have former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie writing "How to fix the BCS" pieces on Why waste space (and time)? The BCS and its precursors are complete failures, period. So cut the nonsense and stop pretending that there's a real question of "what do we do?" The BCS is the inverse of Churchill's maxim that democracy is the worst form of governance, except for all the others. The BCS is the best form of deciding a national champion, other than the one that actually works: playing for it on the field.

Here's a BCS and BBCS primer for your lack of enjoyment.

In 1992, the major football schools (through their conferences) created the "Bowl Coalition". In 1992 and '93, the Coalition resulted in a single national champion that would have occurred without a "Bowl Coalition" -- Alabama beat Miami for the '92 title, FSU beat Nebraska in the '93 season and both matchups were an at-large team (Miami, FSU) against a conference tie-in team (SEC champ goes to Sugar Bowl - Alabama, Big 8 champ to Orange Bowl - Nebraska). Of course, the whole thing fell apart in '94 when Penn State got shafted in favor of a mediocre Nebraska and the two undefeateds could not face each other due to conference tie-ins.

In 1995, the Bowl Alliance was concocted destroying some conference ties, thus a Nebraska-Florida #1 v. #2 matchup in the Fiesta Bowl. And that worked because there was no Big Ten or Pac-10 champ with a claim on the national title, like in 1994 and later in 1997 (undefeated Michigan). In 1996, the Alliance lucked out when undefeated Arizona State choked against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.

Review the record so far: six years (1992-97), two years' results would be the same under the old system (1992, 1993), three years where the top two teams do not meet in the bowls (1994, 1996, 1997), and one clear success in 1995.

Now comes the BCS: 1998-present. The latest incarnation that farks everything up. On paper, it worked ok in 1998 when #1 Tennessee beat FSU (could have happened under the old system) and it worked properly in 1999 when FSU beat Va. Tech. Since then, three major cock-ups in four years: 2000, when Oklahoma played FSU instead of Miami for the title, both had one loss and Miami had beaten FSU; 2001, when Miami whacked Nebraska, which had not even played its conference title game after a 62-36 loss to Colorado (62 points! And to a team that later lost its bowl 38-16 to the Oregon team that had a better claim to play Miami!); and 2003, when LSU beat an Oklahoma team that had been ripped in its conference title game, whilst USC smacked Michigan in the Rose Bowl and a split poll resulted with LSU winning one poll (ESPN/USA Today) and USC winning the other (AP). So the thing worked in 2002 when Miami lost to Ohio State; but it failed in 2000, 2001 and 2003.

In 2004 the BCS will again fail if Oklahoma, USC and Auburn do what they're expected to do: win their final games against, respectively, Colorado (decent team); UCLA (stinko); and Tennessee (decent, but lost to Auburn at home badly). Why? Because all three of those major conference teams will be undefeated and only two can play "for the national title". What a crock. Can't anyone here administer this game?

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