Friday, July 3, 2009

BCS still better than March Sadness

I’m not into making guarantees but you can bet your life that at some point during the 2009 college football season, many people will grovel to no end about the BCS.

Heck, our own president – Barack Obama -- of the United States has gotten on his soapbox about wanting a playoff. Memo to Mr. President, worry about fixing our country first.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln chancellor Harvey Perlman was recently appointed chairman of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee. In a nutshell, Perlman just assumed a pretty important seat of power, as head of the committee that looks at the viability of playoffs, TV contracts, and the like.

The BCS just shot down a Mountain West proposal for an eight-team playoff. It was the chairman of the BCS Presidential Oversight committee, University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer, who delivered the vague statement explaining that any playoff suggestion “disrespect our academic calendars and they utterly lack a business plan.” addressed the topic as well. I have one thing in common with, I am not in favor of a playoff in college football. Yes, I said not in favor.

Yes, the BCS (Bowl Championship series) is not perfect but a playoff (a la NCAA March Madness in basketball) is the not the cure-all either. It would be “different” than the BCS but the only thing that change guarantees is that things will be “different,” but “different” does not necessarily mean “better.”

Yes, the bowl games are watered down in that more than half the teams in Div. I-A get to one. That’s bad enough but let’s not water it down anymore than the other sports have. Most people would argue that “every other sport has a playoff so college football should get one.”

The argument you hear most often is to take the six BCS league champions, the top non-BCS conference champion, and one wild-card. That idea sounds all well and good but what makes you think the powers that be would not get sucked in by money and expand the college football playoffs?

Major League Baseball, yes the sport with so many that spews out terms like “integrity,” “tradition,” and “purists,” expanded. It used to be that only division winners reached the postseason. Now, it’s four teams per league (three division winners and a wild card). I don’t have a huge problem with that because since MLB adopted the wild card format in 1995, numerous wild card teams have gone on to win the World Series. Why did MLB expand its postseason? Money. Owners of mediocre teams got sick of their teams being out of the pennant chase in late June and changed things to add more playoff teams and a wild-card.

I know many college football playoff advocates swear by the NCAA Tournament and call it “March Madness.” March Sadness is more like it. Back when only the conference champions were allowed in the tournament, it was much better. Now any team that can walk on to a bus and avoid tripping over the step gets in the tournament. What a joke.The other sports have screwed it up too. The NFL is borderline is not perfect but it’s acceptable in that 12 out of 32 teams make it to the postseason. The NBA and NHL, however, are brutally watered down in that over half the teams reach the postseason. The good news there is that it is a best-of-seven format where the better team usually wins. However, why are there so many playoff series – money!

As screwed up college football is as far getting two teams in the BCS title game, it gets it right more so than any other sport. True, teams like unbeaten 2008 Utah might be hard to convince, USC in 2007, Auburn in 2004, Oregon in 2001 or Miami in 2000 but it is also hard to argue with a team that went through the rigors of the regular season and then won a BCS championship.

The BCS has been tweaked over the years with things such as quality win points, computer rankings, strength of schedule, etc. The anti- BCS folks have been equally tweaked and want say a four-team or and eight-team playoff with the preservation of the bowl games. Unfortunately, they forget one thing.

The pro March Madness folks would then say but "at least it's played on the court." True but it doesn't stop teams that were "on the bubble" from complaining about not getting an NCAA tournament bid.The NCAA men's basketball tournament might be exciting but it's nothing more than a gimmick and de-emphasizes the regular season. Fans that love it say that a team can "get hot" all of the sudden. My argument is that any team can "get hot" all of the sudden but once they lose a game, the pressure is gone.

Whereas going undefeated is a bigger accomplishment. It's like pitching a perfect game in baseball. With each win, the laws of averages are not on your side because that team has a Bull's Eye right across its ever loving chest.Again, March Madness is exciting but the field of 64 teams is watered down worse than a flat Budweiser and please don't come at with the George Masons of the world either. I say cut the field to 16 teams and have truly the best teams.

If the idea is to find out which college basketball team is the best by having a tournament and having everyone play it off, then when play the regular season in the first place? The BCS might need its share of tweaking but I've always argued that it comes closer to crowning a true national champion than college basketball does. The best way to make a playoff in football a plausible situation is to make Notre Dame join a conference. I believe that’s as big of a reason as any why there is no playoff. Others have come up with a solution of matching up all conference winners. I like that scenario in that there is no ambiguity but some years one conference is appreciably strong while another is weak. I’d say just take the Top eight BCS teams, conference champ or not.Of course, for a playoff to work Notre Dame must get off its high chair and join a conference but given their elitist mentality that’ll never happen.

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