Monday, December 05, 2005

BCS Fails To Deliver

On January 4, USC will take on Texas in a highly anticipated Rose Bowl.  Fans have been salivating over this matchup for months, and their blowout victories on Saturday ensured that the contest would take place.  By matching the clear-cut top two teams in the nation, the BCS has failed on its mission: needlessly complicating the postseason so that controversy overshadows on-field competition.


Once every three years, a scenario unfolds that even the BCS has to get right.  In 1999, Florida State and Virginia Tech were the only major conference teams to enter the bowls without a loss.  Miami and Ohio State provided that same situation in 2002.  This year, only the Trojans and Longhorns remain unscathed.  As a result, no matter how many bizarre computer rankings they threw into the mix, the BCS was stuck with this classic matchup.


Pasadena’s gain is sports talk radio’s loss.  With the T.O. issue receding from the spotlight, a BCS mess could have filled the controversy void.  Fans could have debated ad nauseum that Texas would have dominated the USC defense, that Reggie Bush would have left Longhorn defenders in the dust, etc.  Now college football fans will have to see those questions answered on the field.  The brilliance of Matt Leinart and Vince Young is a pale substitute for the rantings of Smackman Steve from Sheboygan.


BCS officials are surely cursing the name of Michigan quarterback Chad Henne, whose last-second touchdown pass prevented Penn State from becoming a third undefeated team.  “Sure, he’s a Pennsylvania native who experienced the thrill of a last-second victory over his home state school,” groused one BCS board member.  “But because of his selfish act, no undefeated team got screwed out of the Rose Bowl.”


Thankfully, the BCS still ensures that no college football playoff will take place in the near future.  Such a system may work in Division III, where the term “student-athlete” is a complete sham.  However, you would be hard-pressed to find a Division I-A football player who would be willing to miss a class or reschedule an exam.  Particularly when you consider that an annual eight-team playoff could take place entirely between December 20 and January 10 – the peak time for college students to be in class.


College basketball shows how poorly a playoff system works.  Last year, the top two teams met in the championship game as #2 North Carolina defeated top-ranked Illinois for the title.  So the five rounds preceding that game were an absolute waste of time.  Was it really worth it to fill out those office pools and suffer through three overtime Elite Eight classics just to wind up with the top two teams at the end anyway?


BCS coordinator Kevin Weiberg assures fans that this year’s Rose Bowl is an aberration.  He noted, “The last time the title game was here, we invited a team (Nebraska) that had just lost by 26.  Next year we’ll return to what we do best – depriving a deserving team from a shot at the title.”  If so, the BCS will again live up to its official name: Bowl Controversy Supporters.