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Why I Hate The BCS Even More Tonight


BaltimoreTerp

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November 19th, 2011 is why people are college football fans.

Even a jaded, fading away fan like myself. I have quite a few problems with the way all of the various parts that make up this rusted-out, Rube Goldbergian machine interact. Too many to account for here, to be sure. The schools are hypocrites through and through, and that is even before the world finds out all of the possible horrors that could come from Penn State. The conferences are de facto corporations. The bowls are corrupt. Above it all stands, with the barest oversight, the NCAA.

Then there is the BCS, which I will come back to shortly.

Even with all of that slowly and inexorably driving me away from any happy feeling towards this sport, a day like the 19th tries to bring me back. It actually began on the night of the 18th, when the team ranked number-two overall in the BCS rankings, Oklahoma State, lost to Iowa State. On its own, this is big news. One of the teams on-pace for a championship-game appearance, with only a single difficult game remaining against their in-state archrivals, loses an otherwise meaningless conference game to a far inferior opponent. Whether simply a matter of circumstance or poor performance or more intangible ideas like ?looking past? opponents, all that matter is that under this system their chances to advance died on that field in Ames, Iowa.

As a great man in the infomercial world once said: but wait, there?s more.

The number-three team, Alabama, was playing a Division I-FCS school this day and had already lost to the number-one team, LSU. Thus, the team with the opportunity to make the biggest statement was number-four Oregon, playing at home against a down USC team on national television. At halftime Oregon trailed, as they often did in 2011, then they came back to have a chance to tie the game as time expired. Even after an off-side call brought the ball forward five yards, the kicker missed the field-goal attempt and Oregon went down 38-35.

The next team in line was Oklahoma at number five. In a twist almost too good to be true, the Sooners played Baylor in the ?regional? national television game at the same time as USC-Oregon. Alas, despite a touchdown scored with less than a minute remaining to tie the game, the Bears scored their own last-minute TD and defeated OU for the first time ever, 45-38.

With number-seven Clemson already a loser (both on the day and, as an ACC fan, in general) to North Carolina State, four top-seven teams fell in the span of a little over 24 hours. Especially as the next-to-last week of the regular season, it is very rare to see so many losses with critical effects on the national championship race.

There are some out there who claim to like the BCS as the postseason set-up for college football. They offer up a small series of reasons for their defense, each of which has been disproved in many different places at many different times. A weekend like this, though, is sure to become yet another claim to the superiority of the system.

?Do you feel the excitement,? they?ll say? ?The drama? If you replace the system with a playoff, weekends like this won?t matter as much because defeats won?t hurt the teams as much.?

They?re right. When they put it like that, they are absolutely right. A weekend with this specific kind of drama is only available with a system where two teams emerge at the end of a regular season to play each other for a title.

It?s a funny thing about drama, though. As every person who interacts with other people on a regular basis can tell you (and yes, I?m paraphrasing Jurassic Park), drama will always find a way.

To take an example from a different sport, one of the great things about baseball for more than a century were the pennant races. They produced drama often enough to satisfy fans, even after the leagues split into divisions. Then those in charge of the sport decided to add a wild card team to the playoffs, and in doing so destroyed much of the inherent drama.

Not all of it, though. In addition, the wild card brought in a new set of dramas, culminating on September 28th, 2011 when I watched the Baltimore Orioles knock the Boston Red Sox out of the wild-card spot and, despite rooting for a team that spent the season among the dregs of the league, felt an excitement I?ve rarely been given by the Orioles. With the inclusion of additional wild cards in the upcoming seasons, now that drama is no more as well. However, new dramas will play out in their own way and with their own importance as time goes on.

The same thing would happen in college football. The BCS destroyed old dramas that the original bowl system fostered, and created its own. A playoff would do the same thing. Even if this specific weekend would be impossible, there is some kind of impossible weekend out there under a playoff that we cannot foresee and will still make us love being fans just as much.

Using this weekend to demonstrate the superiority of the BCS is also a bit disingenuous. Because the system is set up in a way that is not only completely different than the systems used at other levels of its own sport, let alone by other sports, but is also comparatively fluid, often changing in some way every year, this kind of drama feels forced. That?s not a good feeling to have.

Forced drama is never good, whether in real life or in bad television. If drama has to be forced along, it shows poor planning. In order to make things entertaining, certain events need a little push. It reflects on the creator, and not in a good way.

For something that is ostensibly real, like a sporting event, forced drama is only a few small steps from outright kayfabe: a term used in professional wrestling to describe planned events that are presented as true.

This need that the people who control college football have to force the drama along, which I don?t think approaches anywhere near the outright fiction of wrestling, is still disturbing. It is why, despite the positive feelings I felt in the moment as I watched those games and heard the results, I cannot truly feel happy. This weekend is just another example of why college football needs fixing. I would gladly trade everything I saw today for a fair post-season system that would do nothing but create its own dramas and improve the sport in ways predictable and not.

November 19th, 2011 may not have hurt my love for college football, but due to what it represents it didn?t bring me any closer to the sport. That is a true shame.

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I agree the BCS sucks. But, how do you decide (if you have a playoff) how many teams get in? It's almost certain to be a different number of deserving teams every year.

Is it better to have a champion that is always deserving of a championship, though the system may leave other deserving teams out. Or, is it better to have a system that rewards mediocrity during the season as long as you get hot at the end, but gives everyone a shot? The history of college basketball is littered with undeserving champions.

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I agree the BCS sucks. But, how do you decide (if you have a playoff) how many teams get in? It's almost certain to be a different number of deserving teams every year.

Is it better to have a champion that is always deserving of a championship, though the system may leave other deserving teams out. Or, is it better to have a system that rewards mediocrity during the season as long as you get hot at the end, but gives everyone a shot? The history of college basketball is littered with undeserving champions.

I think the teams that qualify for BCS bowls should form the playoff brackets. Eight teams ( forget the +1) seeded by BCS ranking duke it out. Can't think of a more fair way.

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I think the teams that qualify for BCS bowls should form the playoff brackets. Eight teams ( forget the +1) seeded by BCS ranking duke it out. Can't think of a more fair way.

Is it fair to the #1 team that goes 12-0 to have to play an underachieving 10-2 #8 team? The #1 team was the better team over the course of the season, why does #8 deserve a shot at it?

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Is it fair to the #1 team that goes 12-0 to have to play an underachieving 10-2 #8 team? The #1 team was the better team over the course of the season, why does #8 deserve a shot at it?

So then - in your mind - tournaments are never fair? Why should the 16 seed have a shot at the 1 seed? Why should the wild card team have a shot against a division winner?

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So then - in your mind - tournaments are never fair? Why should the 16 seed have a shot at the 1 seed? Why should the wild card team have a shot against a division winner?

Well, mostly I'm playing devil's advocate. This seems to be something that's never discussed when talking about playoffs. Is it really fair to the #1 team? It does devalue (to some extent) the regular season. It doesn't mean that's a reason not to have a playoff, but it is something to consider.

In a perfect world the NCAA would come to me and I'd decide the best way to determine a NC each year.:D

I do agree with the last sentence, especially in baseball. Why should the WC team be in, when over 162 games they proved they weren't as good as the division winner.

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A 10 seed playing a no. 1 seed may not seem fair. But how fair is it that Alabama lost at home to LSU, they both play again for the championship on a nuetral site, and Alabama wins to become National Champions. To me, thats less fair than a playoff system.

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A 10 seed playing a no. 1 seed may not seem fair. But how fair is it that Alabama lost at home to LSU, they both play again for the championship on a nuetral site, and Alabama wins to become National Champions. To me, thats less fair than a playoff system.

I agree completely. This is why I think if that scenario were to unfold, we could see a BCS/AP split in who the champion is for the first time since LSU took the BCS NC title, while USC took the AP title back in 2003.

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Is it fair to the #1 team that goes 12-0 to have to play an underachieving 10-2 #8 team? The #1 team was the better team over the course of the season, why does #8 deserve a shot at it?

Nobody complained in 2007 when the undefeated New England Patriots had to beat a New York Giants team that barely made the playoffs to win the Super Bowl.

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Is it fair to the #1 team that goes 12-0 to have to play an underachieving 10-2 #8 team? The #1 team was the better team over the course of the season, why does #8 deserve a shot at it?
So then - in your mind - tournaments are never fair? Why should the 16 seed have a shot at the 1 seed? Why should the wild card team have a shot against a division winner?
A 10 seed playing a no. 1 seed may not seem fair. But how fair is it that Alabama lost at home to LSU, they both play again for the championship on a nuetral site, and Alabama wins to become National Champions. To me, thats less fair than a playoff system.
Nobody complained in 2007 when the undefeated New England Patriots had to beat a New York Giants team that barely made the playoffs to win the Super Bowl.

All of this. Playoffs aren't exactly fair to the top seeds, but it's the most democratic way to go about crowning a champion. I like the BCS because I'm in the crowd that kinda likes the intensity of every game every week. As a VT fan, why the heck should I care about the Duke game? With the BCS, suddenly the Duke game means the same as the Miami game or the UVA game.

Are the NFL playoffs really the most fair way to crown a champion? Were the NY Giants really better than the Pats that year, or did they get hot at the precise right time? Green Bay is the best team this year, but I'd probably still take the field in a bet. Football doesn't lend itself to post season series like in MLB, NBA, and NHL playoffs. Those leagues got it right, IMO. Since we won't see that in football at any level, it's down to the BCS and the NFL playoffs, both of which have their issues. The NFL is probably a bit more definitive, but the BCS tends to work itself out in most cases.

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I agree the BCS sucks. But, how do you decide (if you have a playoff) how many teams get in? It's almost certain to be a different number of deserving teams every year.

Is it better to have a champion that is always deserving of a championship, though the system may leave other deserving teams out. Or, is it better to have a system that rewards mediocrity during the season as long as you get hot at the end, but gives everyone a shot? The history of college basketball is littered with undeserving champions.

It's also easier for you to embrace a system that allows the media to decide which two teams they feel are the two best teams in the country, seeing as how you're a fan of a team that just won the BCS Title Game and a fan of a team in a conference that, no matter what is basically guaranteed a representative in the BCS Title Game.

Put yourself in the shoes of fans of teams that have never won a championship game and are pretty much out of that discussion from jumpstreet.

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It's also easier for you to embrace a system that allows the media to decide which two teams they feel are the two best teams in the country, seeing as how you're a fan of a team that just won the BCS Title Game and a fan of a team in a conference that, no matter what is basically guaranteed a representative in the BCS Title Game.

Put yourself in the shoes of fans of teams that have never won a championship game and are pretty much out of that discussion from jumpstreet.

Yeah, I think the big thing I always come back to with the BCS system is that there are many teams (i.e. Houston this year, Boise State in years past), still nominally considered Division IA, that are eliminated from national championship consideration before they've even played a game. In every other system in every other sport, teams at least control their own destiny.

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If I where the god of college Football here is what I would do. I would move to 8 power conferences. The winners of those eight power conferences would get first round byes. The first round would be made up by 16 at large teams seeded by BCS rankings with the higher seed choosing the venue. 2nd round games would be reseeded with the first round bye teams getting home field in the second round. All other rounds to be played at bowl sites.

System takes five weeks so the season is not going any longer. The argument that regular season games won't matter is crazy. IT would be just like Bubble teams in basketball. Every week there would be ten teams or more with must win games. There would be huge meaning to win your conference.

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Yeah, I think the big thing I always come back to with the BCS system is that there are many teams (i.e. Houston this year, Boise State in years past), still nominally considered Division IA, that are eliminated from national championship consideration before they've even played a game. In every other system in every other sport, teams at least control their own destiny.

It would be much harder to determine a champion if there were 120 NFL teams.

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