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Screw You BCS


I love NFL football. But I’m completely disinterested in NCAA football. Why?

If you hate watching meaningful football games, you should love college football’s Bowl Championship Series. Maryland played East Carolina this week at RFK Stadium. Announced attendance was 38,062, thousands below capacity – at a stadium just nine miles from the Maryland campus. Feel the bowl excitement!

If you hate Cinderella stories, you should love the BCS. Texas Christian University has gone undefeated this year, but cannot win the national title. Boise State has finished undefeated twice in recent years, both times winning the Fiesta Bowl, without being allowed a chance at the national title either time.

If you like preserving wealth & power in the hands of the privileged few over a true meritocracy, you should love the BCS. Only 14 teams have appeared in the 13 BCS Championship games, with 10 of the 26 slots going to just 3 teams (Oklahoma, Ohio State & Florida State).

College football’s lack of a playoff system is one of the great enduring atrocities of modern sports. Look at it this way: Can you imagine any other sport dismantling their playoff system in exchange for a lone title game in which the participants are based in large part on subjective opinions? What if the NCAA proposed canceling the NCAA basketball tournament & just letting #1 & #2 play for the title? Or if the NFL skipped the playoffs and put the Patriots & Falcons in the Super Bowl right now?

Amazingly, the BCS still has some misguided defenders. Just listen to this convoluted defense of the system from Not Larry Sabato:

[L]et’s explore what this season would look like with an eight team playoff.  Assuming the first rounds were held at home, with the semifinals and national championship held at neutral sites at a traditional bowl this is what we would be looking at:

(8) Arkansas at (1) Auburn

plays the winner of

(5) Wisconsin at (4) Stanford

(6) Ohio State at (3) TCU

plays the winner of

(7) Oklahoma at (2) Oregon

HOLY CRAP DOES THAT LOOK AWESOME! Wait, is NLS arguing for or against a college football playoff here? Let’s see:

How is this outcome superior to the BCS?  Auburn and Arkansas already played this season- and Auburn won. The controversy of who qualifies for the BCS Championship Game today would shift to which teams qualify for the final playoff slots.  

Why should Wisconsin (11-1) and Ohio State (11-1) get road playoff games for a chance to move into position for a national championship when their co-conference champion Michigan State (11-1) wouldn’t qualify for the playoffs as the #9 team in the country?  Why does PAC-10 runner up Stanford deserve a potential shot at Auburn in a semi-final game to move into a potential national championship against Oregon that already defeated them?

What this season once again shows is despite all of the complaints and teeth-gnashing about the BCS each year, the system continues to work and provide the best possible outcome.  This year the two teams that deserve to play for a national championship are Auburn and Oregon and they both will get that opportunity.

How is it superior to get 7 awesome meaningful football games and a true champion, instead of just 1 meaningful game and a champion who may have to answer critics who say TCU might’ve been better? And when teams play twice or more in the same season in other leagues, it’s called drama & rivalry.

NLS doesn’t get into it here, but BCS defenders will also say student athletes shouldn’t that many games. What they ignore is that college football players already play 2-3 more games per year than they did just two decades ago. It’s OK for players to play more games to fill BCS coffers, but not to give fans a true champion?

It’s well past time for a college football playoff.

  • notlarrysabato

    That’s not a BCS bowl and has nothing to do with the BCS.

  • Dave

    Your back-and-forth with Ben aside, there’s a few key counterarguments missing here.

    1) Does it really matter if you have a playoff among 8 teams out of 140+? The NCAA basketball tourney includes almost half of all teams. The only way to decide who plays a football tournament is still going to be something absurd like the the BCS rankings.

    2) At least there’s no more split decision crap like their used to be. You’d have the winners of the top bowl games and the #1’s in various polls all bickering for top billing.

    3) Extending the season by 3 games is absurd. That will lead to a whole lot of college talent getting hurt and jeopardizing their pro careers.

    The BCS has been kind to Oklahoma, so I can’t complain too much. I still don’t care for it. That said, if you have a truly better solution, let’s hear it. The root of the issue is that you really can’t play more than 13 games in a college season without jeopardizing the health of your players, and there’s 140+ teams.

    Perhaps the solution isn’t killing the BCS, but rather opening it up, making it more transparent, and tweaking it the more data we get.

  • notlarrysabato

    A 2 point win over an undermanned Wisconsin team?  In their game of the year?  That’s who everyone was crying tears for?

  • notlarrysabato
  • richmonder

    I’ve never fully understood the obsession in American sports with knock-out competitions and rankings that allow some team or some player to be glorified as the ‘best.’ Come on, it’s sports, not a life-or-death struggle among gladiators. Yeah, the BCS is messy and could be rationalized, but national college playoffs would put even more strain on college athletic programs. It would ratchet up the professional side of college football, too, which to my mind would be moving in the wrong direction. The better solution would be to eliminate some of the lesser bowl games and tweak the existing system.  

    • notlarrysabato

      With 6 division winners and a couple of wild cards making it into the playoffs.  The only thing we are arguing over is whether there should be a playoff in college football.  I think that’s absurd and ruins the “every game counts” aspect of the college football regular season.