Drinking The BCS Kool-Aid

My opinion is as we get older, we should get smarter.  As life experiences accumulate, we should get wiser.

If you told me just two years ago I’d be posting random thoughts challenging readers to consider the BCS and the multiple bowl games leading up to it a better way to finish off a season than March Madness, I’d have laughed ’til I cried.

But then the 2011 Final Four featured one team that played in the play-in roundan 8-seeda 4-seed…and UConn. 

I now believe it was no accident the Connecticut Huskies survived March Madness one season ago.

It was a sign from above. (No, not from Tim Tebow…higher) A sign we best not tinker too much with college football…or it just might wind up like college basketball.

Where all we seem to talk about once attention turns fully to it…is solely who will or will not qualify.  The “Bubble.”

For a 68-team competition. 

To allegedly determine a deserving champion.

When the BCS was born and bowl games multiplied like water hitting Gremlins, I was like most folks big-time intellectually insulted that big-time college football couldn’t just have a large, inclusive playoff like every other Division manages to pull off each season.  It was bad enough the BCS was put in place…but then pathetic excuses about not wanting too long a season for the student-athletes, not wanting to be unfair to fans, etc. started to be offered up as a justification why instead of…say a 16-team playoff…a combination of human and non-human resources were mashed together to determine but two teams to play for a National Championship…while half of the teams playing at the big-time level are rewarded with a bowl game slot even if they only win half their games. (That might sound familiar…that UConn basketball team only won half of their games within the Big East)

We’ve all wrote and read many, many articles bashing the BCS.  Too many bowl games.  Not enough teams getting a shot at the title.

Consider…college football provides a clearly more deserving champion than college basketball.

Because…the competition isn’t BYOB, it’s black-tie.

Think back to last August when college football started up.  Hell, we were thinking the loser of some of those opening games would be eliminated from BCS Championship consideration.  Every game matters in college football.  No slip-ups allowed.  Bring your best every weekend.

Aren’t we trying to determine who is worthy of being a champion?  All fall, we’re talking “upwards.”  We are always discussing who is worthy of being considered the best of the best.

All winter, we’re talking “downwards.”  We are always discussing who is not worthy.

There was a time not that long ago where I LIVED for “Bubble Watch.”  I could tell you who Joe Lunardi had as his “Next Four Out” as it changed DAILY.   I would have gotten “Bracketology” for my license plate if it didn’t exceed the state-regulated seven characters.

I feel an awakening of sorts has occurred within me this winter as all this “who’s in/who’s out” conversation started up on cue last month.  While I was bashing the Final Four on this site last April, I was only focused on how gruesomely bad the play was…how fundamentally awful the games were.  I should have begun right then and there to focus on the participants and the process that led us to…this.

You see, I want to care about regular season games.  I want to spend my time watching what truly matters.  I want to talk “upwards.”

Do you know how many people tell me they are big college basketball fans…but then admit they really don’t start watching it until March?  Isn’t there something terribly wrong here?  What does it say about the process of how we achieve a National Champion in college hoops?

March Madness is great fun because your office has a bracket pool, your significant other will actually watch sports with you for a change (because they have a bracket)…and there are games swirling about that first weekend with television whipping you from one close finish to another.  A great spectacle indeed.

But…is it a better way…dare I say a legitimate way…to determine a deserving National Champion opposed to how college football operates?  Is it madness to consider March Madness falls quite short of the alleged objective of having the very best teams compete for the crown?

All the bowl games…in some cases, true rewards for teams with great seasons that came up a game or two short.  For others…the “Bubble” teams…a chance to extend practice a few more weeks, get some money into their program and put their program in a national spotlight for a few hours.

Perhaps the BCS needs a “Plus 1″ or a 4-team finale tweak…but it is hard to argue when you sit down to watch the National Championship in college football… you know you’re seeing deserving teams who played all year with a “zero defect” mind set.

No “Bubble” teams on the field the night of the BCS Championship.

Maybe it comes down to your personal choice of what you want more.

A champion from a “private” party…or one from a “block” party.

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20 Responses to Drinking The BCS Kool-Aid

  1. chappy81 says:

    Solid points, but I think it’s almost better for football that they have a playoff. Since one game does matter so much, why not have a few extra ones at the end of the year that matter even more!?! Plus if you have a four team playoff, there’s noway you can lose more than one regular season game.

    Do I think the National Champion in hoops is decided properly in the March Madness? Probably not, but I think that’s more of a product of players leaving school so early to go to the NBA. If they had players stay all four years or at least 3 years, you have to think the teams with guys like Durant and Lebron would be in the final four, and you’d probably get the best two teams in that game…

    • Yes, Chappy. I wouldn’t have a problem if they did a “Final Four” in college football for precisely that reason – you’re still talking about a select number of deserving teams who earned the right to be called National Champion. But I wouldn’t go any more than four. Good point that part of the problem in the college game, aside from the sheer number of teams they bring to “the party”…is the watering down of the sport by roster turnover. If college basketball teams were guaranteed players would stay through their junior seasons like football…it would be interesting indeed. It certainly was more interesting back in the day where no underclassmen could go to the pros…and freshmen couldn’t even play!

      • chappy81 says:

        So would you be willing to go to a wild card game for college football? Like have the 4th and 5th ranked teams play to get into the final four, because then they could still use the four major bowl names for each of the four “important” games they have and appease the money gurbbers?

        It’s funny how back in the day in hoops, freshmen didn’t even get on the court all that often!

      • Definitely agree. Especially with that last sentence

  2. Interesting idea, Chappy. You could rotate the games…one year the Rose would be the Wild Card leading into the Sugar and Fiesta semifinals…and then the Orange final. I get where you’re coming from. Sure. It ain’t 68 teams. I’ll give ya one more…!

  3. Here’s my BCS idea:

    The top 16 teams (according to a combination of the Coaches’, AP and Harris polls (ditch the computers)) go to the tournament. After the quarterfinals (1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5), the winners of thise games go to the semifinals, which are the four BCS Bowls (Rose, Sugar, Fiesta and Orange). Then the tournament goes on like any other, and anyone from Alabama to Wisconsin to Michigan State to TCU can be crowned #1.

  4. Ironically, I’ve gone through the same line of thinking recently, so either we’re both getting smarter, dumber or simultaneously hopped up on the cherry kool-aid.

    The Giants won the Super Bowl in last year’s playoffs but they were hardly the best team during the regular season. UConn, as you mention went on a nice little run, but they were hardly the best team in college basketball last year. And let us not forget about the St Louis Cardinals.

    The reason we’re all so rabid about college football is that every game means something, every loss means bye-bye.

    The LSU-’Bama rematch and resulting ‘Bama victory raised a lot of eyebrows, but it also confirmed what most of us thought, that ‘Bama was the best team in the nation.

    Whatever BCS tinkering happens in the near future, hopefully, it won’t dilute the playoff field, for that will lessen the importance of the regular season.

    I got your back on this one, bra.

    • Chris, so glad to hear we are of like mind…and thanks for having my back. I almost felt like I was committing a sin offering up the almighty March Madness needed to be “taken down a peg.” It has always meant so much to me. These are uncharted waters for moi. But I have come around to deciding what means more to me is having a meaningful regular season and a champion that proved their worth all year long…not just for a couple of weeks. I “get” where college football is coming from…now.

  5. FireDannyAinge says:

    I have been avoiding all blogs especially this once since the whole superbowl disaster but just wanted to drop in and ask you if you like Papelbon yet.lol I remember when I liked Papelbon. Oh those days so long ago.

  6. FDA, Poupon hasn’t grown on me yet. I maintain money should have been spent…should have gotten at least one “professional” hitter who understands advancing runners and playing “small ball.” With the way Ilya’s goaltending has been working out, I fear if Poupon fails to close out games early in the season his brand-new, giant contract will be compared to our goalie’s. Have you SEEN some of Ilya’s play this season? We can only hope the Phillies’ closer is better than the Flyers’ “closer.”

  7. tophatal says:

    sports’

    If we could level the field by way of taking the decision out of the hands of the major BCS conferences with terms of their say as it concerns the BCS system then perhaps we could derive a national championship that has some integrity to it . Less we forget also the money that’s at stake .

    A ” shout out to the lab tech who saw fit to take Braun’s specimen home and deposit in a refrigerated area of his basement at his residence . And Selig is ###sed about the decision concerning the player ? Who did MLB hire to actually conduct the testing ………. members of the Medellin Colombian drug cartel ?

    Braun says he feels exonerated ? He got off on a technicality and that’s it .

    tophatal ………..

  8. Blog Surface says:

    Its amazing how fans still don’t believe Ryan Braun, even after his 50-game suspension was overturned by the arbitrators. This is a perfect example of how drug testing can ruin an athlete’s reputation simply just by being involved with it regardless of the outcome.

    • FireDannyAinge says:

      He was not found innocent. It was over turned on a technicality. It took 48 hours to get the test to the testing place instead of 24.

      The test still tested positive. Now he has an excuse to say it could have been tainted.

      The radio made a good point today. They want to know if the seal on the package was broken. THEN he has a case. Now he wins on a technicality.

    • Absolutely…once someone’s name is associated with the words “drug test” the reputation is “dinged” for good.

  9. I think you’ve broke this brilliantly down to the bare essence Bruce, as one system is exclusionary and the other is inclusionary (yes that’s not a word). In a country were the reigning ideal is that opportunity is open to all, the BCS leaves a bead taste in the mouth, while March Madness allows the little guy to magically win it all.

    However, just because you have the ability to create larger field in CBB doesn’t mean you should. There is a delusion of the product (from what I’ve heard) and as you point out a rendering of the regular season somewhat meaningless…I heard Jay Bilas express similar sentiments the other day.

    So in many way I would agree that as a whole the BCS formula is superior, but it still has it’s flaws that even a playoff system might not solve.

  10. The myth is that competition matters. I call it the “Fallacy of the Game”. The more we measure, the more we think matters, but the truth is, all that matters is the experience of striving for perfection. So whether or not the BCS or Bracketologists ever get it right, just remember that you’re wasting your time until and unless YOU get in the game.

    That’s my $0.02.

    • Sean, I hope all college athletes enjoy the ride. So very few get “past” that level to begin with. You would hope they’d savor the stride for perfection. A worthy $0.02!

  11. Pingback: College Football’s New Payoff…Uh…Playoff « sportsattitudes

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