Sunday, December 02, 2007

The mess that is college football

I hate the BCS. I have hated it since its inception. Even when my guys (Florida State) won the thing back in 1999, I have thought it was a bad idea.

There is no reason why they can't have a playoff.

Oh, I forgot; there is a reason there's no playoff: Money.

The six BCS conferences are full of greedy bastards who are more interested in profiting off amateur athletes than giving us a clear national champion that is determined on the field. A 16 team play off is good enough for Division I-AA (or whatever the hell they're calling it now), Division II and Division III. So why is it not good enough for Division I-A?

I'd be okay if the conference commissioners and college presidents came right and said, "We make a lot of money off the bowls and we'd like to keep it that way." At least own up to being greedy bastards.

But when they say that don't want college "student"-athletes taking too much time in December away from their studies, they're simply lying. If Division III Mount Union can play 15 games year after year as they contend for national championships, why can't scholarship players at USC, Florida State, LSU et al do the same?

If this year doesn't scream for a playoff, I don't know what has to happen. There is no dominant team. The only undefeated team, Hawaii, is apparently shut out of contention for the national championship and has to settle for the Sugar Bowl. They may very well not be able to compete, but they should be exposed on the field, not through polls.

The only reason to keep the bowl system is to keep the "mid-major" schools from making real money. Unlike the NCAA basketball tournament where teams who are hot can make a charge at a national title, in football TPTB want to hoard all the money themselves.

The charm of March Madness is that it seems each year there is a team like George Mason, Gonzaga, etc. that beats an "established" team and makes a charge. Why does football not have this?

The solution, of course, is a playoff. Unlike basketball, where there are only 12 kids per team, football should have a 12 or 16 team playoff. Let's face it, football is a sport in which each year, there are only five or six teams which can legitimately claim to be the best in the country. Even if a team gets hot, there are too many variables for a lot of teams to have a realistic chance at winning it all.

First of all, the college schedule should be reduced to 11 games. Adding the 12th game was purely about money. Eliminate the conference championship games, too. They're also only about making money for the conferences on TV.

Then pick the 12 best teams in the country and run them through a three round playoff like the NFL. The top four seeds get byes and then the rest of them resolve everything else on the field.

So who should get invited? As I mentioned before, there are really only a handful of teams who really have a shot at the national title. We saw that this year. Only 8 or so teams have any chance at the title. I'm including Hawaii in those 8, because any team that wins all their games--regardless of conference--deserves a chance to prove their legitimacy. No one should be able to hide behind the excuse that "they don't play anyone."

They tried this on Tulane (1998), Marshall (1999) and now Hawaii. Part of it is that they play in weak conferences. Their non-conference schedules are also weak, but that's not really their fault. No one wants to play them. Do you think Florida State or Michigan wanted to play Marshall 8 years ago? Of course not. No one wanted to get assassinated by a MAC team. Same thing for Hawaii this year; USC didn't want any piece of Colt Brennan. Nor UCLA or any one else in the country.

After the undefeated teams, a selection committee should pick the other teams, just like they do in basketball. More often than not, the only controversy will be over the 11th and 12th seeds.

I think I am going to boycott all of the bowls this year. To see LSU jump over higher ranked teams because TPTB want them in the BCS "national championship" game is unconscionable. Yes, they're the conference champions. But what about Georgia? Last week, they were ranked higher than LSU but now the Tigers are magically better? Pul-eeze!

And what about Virginia Tech? If the argument against Georgia is that they didn't win their division or conference, the Hokies did both. Why aren't they in the big game? LSU had two chances to be number 1 and they blew them both. Yes each one was in triple-overtime, but they still lost.

I find it interesting that as long as ABC had the BCS TV contract, they wouldn't let their talking heads call for a playoff. Now that it's gone to Fox, it seems everyone at ESPN except Tim Cowlishaw wants a playoff. Coincidence? I think not.

The BCS is pure BS. Most everyone else I know does, too.

Some people say the bowls should be preserved as "tradition" and because "the regular season is the playoff". I don't recall anything traditional about the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl or the Outback Bowl. I also don't see how the regular season can be a playoff if a team can lose twice and still be alive in the championship and another team can win all it's games and not get any love.

The thing to do is not watch any of these bowls. That's what it's all about, right? Money. If we (the public) don't pay attention to any of the bowls (all but one of which are basically irrelevant thanks to the BCS), they'll go away. As soon as TPTB find a way to get the money to all the right people, the BCS will go away. Let's do what we can to speed up that process.

My other solution is for someone to offer big bucks for Ohio State to play Hawaii for the "true" national championship on pay-per-view. The BCS and the NCAA can't stop them. Technically the bowls are outside the purview of the the NCAA, as are the independent polls. So why not pay each school $10 million to meet on a neutral site and show the game on HBO or some other outlet. I pretty much guarantee that they'll make their money back.

At least then, the participants will all acknowledge that the process is all about the Benjamins.

Check back with me after college football is over and be ready for American Idol!