Why the BCS is Good for College Football
I should probably preface this by saying I am not a huge follower of college football; at least not to the extent that I follow baseball. That being said, I do keep tabs on how the season is progressing and of course I follow my alma mater and the local teams.
Given my foot injury this past weekend and the fact that I have already watched all of the baseball games I have on the TiVo at least a million times I turned my attention to the college football games on the television.
I watched as Alabama dissected the Florida Gators and came away believing the Crimson Tide have to be considered the favorite to achieve a national championship. Shortly after that game ended I flipped over to see how the other side of the equation would play out in the game between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the University of Texas Longhorns.
Like many other sports fans I have taken my share of shots at the Bowl Championship Series and lamented that there is no playoffs for college football. Each year as the season ends it seems like we are left with more questions than answers as to who the national champion should be.
This year the table was set for a nightmare. With number one Florida losing to number two Alabama some of the complaints would be satisfied since it meant there was one less undefeated team in the country.
TCU of the Mountain West conference has finished their undefeated season and going into the weekend they were ranked number four. Boise State likewise ends the season undefeated and they too have an argument to be included in a BCS bowl despite not playing in a BCS conference.
When the Cincinnati Bearcats came from behind to beat Pittsburgh they finished the regular season undefeated and staked their claim for a chance to play for the national championship.
The stage was set for what could be a disaster for the BCS when Texas took the field against Nebraska. For most of that game the Huskers walked all over Texas. While the score was close, the play really wasn’t.
With time running out on the Longhorns, Heisman candidate Colt McCoy made a critical mistake lobbing the ball to the sideline with time running out. The game clock went to zero and Nebraska players rushed the field in celebration.
Not so fast, the officiating crew huddled together and decided one second should be put back onto the clock allowing Texas a chance at one last play. In a scene reminiscent of the 1972 Olympic basketball game in Munich where the USSR is allowed a second chance to win, the Longhorns kicked the field goal leaving Nebraska players, coaches, and fans wondering what had happened.
With Texas winning, that meant there were five undefeated teams. Obviously all of these teams could not play for the national championship and with two teams coming from non-BCS conferences it was even more unlikely that the bowl system could produce an undisputed national champion.
Almost as soon as the clock expired (a second time) in the Texas game people were already clamoring for the abolishment of the BCS in favor of a better system for crowning a champion.
I am usually one of those opponents but as I thought about it I realized that abolishing the BCS and the bowl structure that is currently in place would be the worst thing that college football could do for their sport.
If you stop to think about it, the faults of the BCS each year means that sports fans throughout the country continue to talk about college football for weeks or perhaps months. The discussions usually swirl around the lack of fairness but regardless of the discussion content people are still talking about the product.
If the BCS was abolished and a playoff format was implemented, the drama that comes from a team being slighted disappears. College football would get sports coverage during the playoff itself but once that is over, discussion pretty much stops until next season.
With the current format they can almost guarantee that somewhere someone is talking about college football and the BCS almost every day of the year. There really is something to be said about creating a flawed system.
Everyone wants to fix the problem but by doing so the NCAA has assured them of interest that they would never get if they really solved the issues of the BCS.
So the one thing you can about guarantee yourself is that with the final whistle on January 7 the discussions will continue for weeks about what the NCAA can do to fix the national championship problem. As the old advertising adage says, you can’t buy that kind of publicity.