#1 Missouri beats Oklahoma, #2 West Virginia beats Pittsburgh, and everybody’s happy. It’s Missouri vs. West Virginia for the crystal football. The BCS works! Woohoo!
Except Oklahoma beat Missouri instead. No problem; Ohio State’s at #3, so it’s Ohio State vs. West Virginia for the crystal football. The BCS works! Woohoo!
Except Pittsburgh beat West Virginia. No problem; Ohio State’s at #3, and Georgia’s at #4, so it’s Ohio State vs. Georgia for the crystal footb…hey, wait a minute. Georgia didn’t even win its division, much less its conference. Plus, they’ve lost twice. Where is Kansas? They only have one loss. What about Hawaii? They’re 12-0. LSU? They won the SEC, with both losses in overtime. Oklahoma beat the #1 team by 21 on a neutral field, as Coach Stoops said five times in seven minutes last night.
The BCS doesn’t work. No, wait a minute. The BCS always works.
I want to reintroduce an all-but-lost point into this debate. The BCS was supposed to alleviate the ambiguity and uncertainty of sportswriters saying one thing and coaches saying another. It would introduce a strong measure of objectivity into the whole thing. Computers can’t be emotionally swayed, after all.
All of this sounds great, but we all have to agree to be beholden to it, do we not? And clearly, we’re not. They’re forever tweaking this and that in the formula in response to complaints. In other words, they’re making this thing that was created in part to remove human foibles from the equation more and more human. In 2003, when LSU won the BCS and USC won the AP, someone started squawking about a “split championship.” I thought, immediately: “wait a minute, BCS is God. There is no such thing as a split championship anymore. Right?”
And here we are this morning, waiting to see what the BCS will spit out as our national championship matchup. A whole bunch of someones will be happy, no matter what. A whole bunch of someones will be outraged, no matter what.
Some years the BCS accidentally “works.” But it is always an accident. There is nothing inherently and broadly satisfying about it. The whole thing is a house of cards. Sometimes, it manages to stand up all the way through the end of the postseason, and the illusion of a working system is preserved. Other times, like 2007, everything goes to hell (and given the year it’s been, what reasonable expectation could we have of anything but a BCS train wreck?).
I’m among many who think we need a playoff. I’m also among many who believe we aren’t going to get it anytime soon (maybe ever). I enjoy college football, and I’ll continue to follow it closely no matter how we determine the national champion.
But I’ve accepted that what we have today, for all its hype and calculation, is really no better than that bad, old, nasty AP/UPI way.
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