BCS system may be bad, playoffs will be worse
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Every year since I can remember as the end of college football comes to a head and talk of national champion hopefuls becomes the topic of conversation for rabid fans across the nation, there is always mention of who is getting shafted by the Bowl Championship Series (BCS).
Whether the talk emerges from team supporters of groups that only have a snowball&8217;s chance in hell of beating out the highly favored larger conference champions (like previous moans from Utah and Boise State after undefeated seasons) or groups that have legitimate claims to an appearance in the game to chose a national champion (dare I say Auburn or LSU in the not too distant past), there always seems to be some dissent among the nation on who deserves a chance.
From this talk of unjust favoritism, of which non-BCS conferences definitely have the largest bone to pick (barring Notre Dame), there have arose cries for a better way. In the early days of the current championship series, the BCS that was started in 1998, the cries were largely for reform.
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The organizers, hearing the grumbling of fans, tried to make amends. The rules that are in place have been reworked and tweaked, whether minutely or on grand scale, almost every year since the BCS started.
At first fans seemed satisfied with the attempts to rectify the problems with a system that was hailed into existence as the fairest way to delegate which teams went to what bowl games. But, alas, times have changed. The first grumblings calling for a tournament for the most worthwhile teams began first among team supporters and worked its way into the media as each year continually saw controversy.
I feel the situation has begun to come to head with the most recent supporter to step up and ask others to consider a playoff. No longer a fan, coach or player, University of Florida President Bernie Machen asked for and received permission to talk with other college presidents about the situation at the Southeastern Conference&8217;s spring meetings.
Machen&8217;s move could be seen as a response to the request of SEC Commissioner and BCS Coordinator Mike Slive, who recently asked college leaders of the SEC to start thinking of the future of the BCS in an attempt to have a plan in place when it comes time to renegotiate its BCS contract in 2009. And though no results came from the meeting, I feel, nay fear, it may be a turning point for the BCS.
Recently, following the call for an analyzation of the pros and cons of moving to a playoff type post-season by Machen, Slive countered the charges that the BCS may be derelict in its duties:
While I cannot agree with Slive&8217;s comments about the lack of controversy in recent years or the successfulness of the current system, I do have to agree with his later comments:
Though the current system is flawed I must throw it my support, because no matter what measures are taken &8212; playoffs or further tweaking of the system &8212; there will always be controversy. You cannot make a fan realize that their team might not be the best choice to receive a chance at a national championship and bragging rights. If you move to a playoff, then the moaning moves down the chain a little to teams that barely missed getting into the tournament, but it still exists.
What I fear such a movement may get rid of &8212; while failing to temper cries of fans &8212; is the loyalty of fans and the popularity and competiveness of the greatness that is college football. Currently every game counts. One loss can be the difference between the Rose Bowl and the Cotton Bowl.
With a playoff all of that changes. One, two and maybe even three losses with the increased number of games being played could be acceptable to making the playoff field. Then Division 1 football becomes a second tier NFL.
So by all means, complain, moan, curse the football gods and the BCS, but think of the repercussions a change from the BCS to a playoff will have on the sport that sees unrivaled support and dedication from its fans.
Brandon Glover is the sports editor of The Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.