From the Sidelines: Continuing tradition of paper champions

Published 4:19 pm Tuesday, January 5, 2010

If a game is exciting but nobody watches it, does it really matter? It is college football’s version of the conundrum that centers around a tree falling in a forest and whether or not it produces a sound.

In this particular instance, the tree produces no sound. Nor does the game for that matter. Seriously, after three months of the college football season that was 2009, fans were left with games like Idaho vs. Bowling Green in the Humanitarian Bowl? Really?

This is the time of the year when otherwise rational people are spoon fed some garbage about the prestige of college football and the purity of the game. They are told about the tradition of bowl games and that a playoff would undercut the integrity of the game. And way too many of them just take their spoonful and come back for more.

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Consider this. There were no fewer than 68 teams that were selected to participate in postseason college football games. Think about that; 68. That is absurd. More than half the schools who participate in the Football Bowl Subdivision were deemed worthy of competing in some form of postseason contest. They play in games that carry names like the “Capital One Bowl” or the “GMAC Bowl” or the “ Bowl” or — my personal favorite — the “San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.” Yep. Prestigious. Rich in tradition.

Of those 68 teams, only two are given the opportunity to play for an actual championship on the field. But still, the National Capitalistic Athletic Association reminds us that this way is better than the time-honored tradition of letting teams determine a champion on the field.

The NCAA even goes so far as to acknowledge the difference in the divisions with separate acronyms. The former Division-1A is recognized as the FBS or Football Bowl Subdivision while the former Division-1AA is called the FCS or Football Championship Subdivision — monikers that in and of themselves seem to imply the absence of a true champion in the FBS.

Only in major college football can more than one team finish the season with an undefeated record and get bupkis for its trouble.

“Hi Boise State. Thank you for playing. Here’s a meaningless trophy for your 13-0 season that included wins over Pac-10 champion Oregon and fellow Cinderella TCU. We sincerely hope it’s enough because it’s all you’re ever going to get. By the way, your blue turf is cute.”

And granted, it is highly probable that Boise State would get run off the field by the winner of the Alabama-Texas game. But shouldn’t the Broncos at least be given the chance to get run off the field rather than some governing body or computer software deciding that for them?

There exists no greater hypocrisy in sports than the that which has become major college football. The NCAA regularly cracks down on players with unrelenting vengeance if they so much as accept a meal from the wrong person, but the entire system that goes into determining the game’s champion is built around making substantial profit for the powers-that-be.

Come on. Thursday’s game is actually called the Citi BCS National Championship Game. So who has the right to prevent Boise State from claiming a share of the national championship? After all, no one has beaten them.

But the unadulterated truth of the matter is this. As long as there is money to be made, major college football will never have a playoff system and more and more meaningless bowl games will be continue to be added. And teams like this year’s Boise State or last year’s Utah will always be left out in the cold.