It’s the week after Thanksgiving which always means two things. First, my belt has been let out another notch. Second, it’s time to continue the fight against the most ludicrous and indefensible construct in all of sports – the BCS.
There are those that will tell me this argument is old. That the BCS will never go away. I don’t buy that. I don’t buy that because no contrived system that makes such little sense can stand the test of time.
Now that you’re recovered from your turkey coma and your time is no longer being sucked up by your uncle with the bad puns, let me take you through the absurdity that is the common defense from proponents of the BCS.
Proponents say that a playoff system will extend the season, making it too long. Huh?
Next Saturday, Dec. 6, marks the end of the season for every D-1 team in the country before the bowl games begin on Dec. 20. That’s two weeks of down time for everyone before the first wave of bowl games with obscure sponsors like EagleBank, R+L Carriers and the San Diego County Credit Union start. The most expansive playoff system being discussed is an eight-team playoff that would require three weeks. If you began such a playoff on Dec. 13, it could end on Dec. 27, five days before the more notable bowls on New Year’s Day and 13 days before the current National Championship game on Jan. 8.
Proponents say that a playoff system will keep players away from the classroom, thereby negatively impacting academics. What?
Then why do they have playoffs for the D-2 and D-3 levels, as well as non-FBS schools formerly known as Division I-AA? Is someone really going to argue with me that programs at those levels (Williams, Colgate and Lehigh to name a few) don’t take academics as seriously as Florida State, Ohio State and Penn State? And do you think players on bowl teams are spending their time in study hall? No, they’re on the practice field, training for their school’s biggest athletic pay-day of the year.
But here’s the best point yet, the one that will win over any BCS-lover who cries “Hook ’em Horns!” each and every Saturday in the fall.
Proponents say that a playoff will devalue regular season games. You know, those epic, titanic, year-defining clashes – like Texas-Oklahoma. What ever will we do if games like Texas-Oklahoma don’t matter? Well, buckle up sports fans, we’re about to find out!
Six weeks after the Longhorns defeated the Sooners, 45-35, at a neutral site, Oklahoma moved ahead of Texas in the BCS standings. The teams have identical records. Texas won the only head-to-head meeting this season. But Oklahoma won a three-way tie-breaker based on the BCS standings to earn a spot in the Big 12 Championship and gets the inside track to the BCS Title Game thanks to the conference’s rules. Once more: The BCS standings put one team ahead of the other. The regular season game? Meaningless.
And that’s why the BCS is B.S., see?
Look at it any way you want. It makes no sense. Unfortunately it has been propped up thus far because it makes a lot of cents. Sorry about the pun. Blame your uncle.
ESPN just purchased the rights to the BCS for $125 million per year through 2014. Schools that qualified for a BCS bowl each received $17 million last year. Their conferences each get a cut of that. There are a lot of hands in this cookie jar, and those are the voices that back the BCS.
It’s no newsflash that money talks in this country, however this is a factor that can be worked around. I am convinced that the BCS would go away if there was a more profitable alternative. And I believe there will be.
America was built through improvement of existing ideas and by listening to the will of the people. There are a lot of entrepreneurs out there that can sketch out a playoff system that will make significantly more cash than the BCS. When they do, all of these other concerns – the season length, the academic issues, the “devaluation” of regular season games – and the turkeys that support this system will all go the way of the dodo.