Now that Auburn and Oregon have completed the regular season undefeated, it seems everyone is now on board with the Bowl Championship Series.
Even ESPN Outside the Lines host Bob Ley was sippin’ the Kool-Aid on SportsCenter Sunday morning, agreeing that this year’s BCS Championship will be the most clear cut since USC and Texas in 2005-06.
Seriously? Is this the same Bob Ley who hosted the original NCAA Selection Show in 1980, and has been doing real sports journalism on TV (eight Sports Emmys) and hosting legitimate playoff events and tournaments like the 2010 FIFA World Cup for more than three decades?
“Listen … no one is screaming about the BCS,” Ley concluded Sunday morning, just hours before the BCS bowl matchups were officially announced.
Consider this Tweet a scream via text:
THE BCS STINKS LIKE THE LEFTOVER THANKSGIVING TURKEY IN MY FRIDGE!
Am I high on 10-day old tryptophan, or is TCU still unbeaten and still the No. 3 team in the country?
How is this clear cut? Try clearly butchered, again.
The BCS Problem
If anything, the BCS hasn’t been clear cut since 2005-06 when Texas rolled into Pasadena and beat the hometown Trojans.
Last year the snub went to undefeated Boise State, which, had it beaten Nevada in its second-to-last regular season game this year, would have won 26 straight and still missed the BCS Championship Game. In 2008-09, it was unbeaten Utah, preceded by Hawaii in 2007-08 and Boise State again in 2006-07.
So what the BCS, NCAA and sports media are telling us when they accept the current system is that they could care less about anyone outside the BCS six pack.
It doesn’t matter if you go unbeaten for one season, two straight seasons or even more. If you’re not in the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big 10, Pac-10 or SEC conference, enjoy the Runner-up.com Bowl.
Apparently there’s no place for Cinderella in the Football Bowl Subdivision. In Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA), Division II, Division III, sure. But in the division most people care about, no.
No Texas Western basketball in 1966. No Jim Valvano or North Carolina State in 1983, or George Mason in 2006. No Fresno State baseball in 2008. No RIT in the 2010 Frozen Four.
As revered a sport as FCS football is in this country, it’s still the only one that doesn’t have a playoff system.
And it’s all because of money. The bowls are just too profitable for anyone who matters (the presidents) to scream.
Only poor saps like myself who care enough to raise our voices, and those voices are drowned out by the dough every single year.
The BCS Playoff Solution
I find it hard to believe the leaders of our institutions of higher learning can’t come up with a playoff solution that works within the confines of the existing BCS and bowl system.
The examples are right under their noses, at the lower divisions.
Even if it wasn’t a full-blown 16-team playoff, which the FCS is playing as we speak, an eight-team playoff would be a nice start … without dragging out the season.
Eight teams would make for seven must-watch bowl games over three weekends, which wouldn’t extend the season any longer than it is now – even with a bye week, or two (one before the playoffs and one before the title game). This season’s BCS Championship, for example, isn’t scheduled until Jan. 11. The 11th!
The argument that a playoff system would create too many games for the players would only apply to the four teams playing beyond the typical 14-game season most bowl teams play. And it’s not like that Final Four would have any complaints about another week after that.
If perennial powers are confident they can make a postseason run, nobody’s forcing them to play a 13-game regular season (Oregon only played 12 this season). They’d just have to be willing to put their money where their mouth is and eat the payday of that 13th regular-season game in preparation for a longer postseason.
Instead of waiting until January for the legitimate bowl games, the BCS bowls would kick off the playoffs in mid-December: eight teams, playing the existing four BCS bowl games at neutral sites. The top eight teams from the BCS standings could earn a berth, or the six BCS conferences earn automatic bids with two at-large berths for the TCUs and Boise States of the world. The playoff field and seeding could be determined by, get this, a committee.
I know, it’s crazy talk, but in this playoff scenario the only addition would be the two semfinal games in the second week of the playoffs. The BCS Championship would remain in early January, the lesser bowl games (the NIT if you will) would continue as is and everyone gets their money – the NCAA, the TV networks, the schools and the bowls. And best of all, we get the playoff we’ve been asking for since Boise State was in this same mess four years ago.
All we need is for someone (who matters) to stand up and scream for once.
Brian Milne covered college football at the Division I-AA level, including its 16-team playoffs, for nearly a decade for McClatchy Newspapers before joining the blogosphere. He is the founder of BallHyped.com and can be followed on Twitter @BallHyped.