Monday, December 08, 2008

Let's Put This Year's BCS Drama Behind Us

Feels like fans are ready to accept Florida-Oklahoma. But while we're hearing the last vestiges of this year's edition of "the BCS system sucks," I'll throw in my own coda about the root problem -- and it isn't the formula or a lack of a playoff. It's a lack of will by people who gripe the loudest.

Every year, there's something new to expose the BCS system as mucked up. And every year, there's griping. And every year, nothing changes.

Let's be clear. The BCS system endures precisely because the "snubbed" teams at the top allow it to. I have very little sympathy for them -- and I'd say that even if Florida wasn't "in" this year.

The teams involved in being snubbed (Texas, USC, Alabama, Penn State) are powerful enough that if any of them actually felt more strongly about playing for a national title than how they feel about their conference affiliation and BCS short-money, they would follow my original idea and secede from the BCS, even if it meant dropping out of their conferences -- or at least threaten it, ready to back it up and walk.

But you won't see them doing that, because they don't really care THAT much about a playoff... at least not as much as other things, like conference loyalty and, y'know, money. If they did, they'd do something about it.

At least as much of a fraud as the BCS system is the cabal that continue to support it -- not just the leadership of the power conferences or the university presidents, but also including the country's most powerful head coaches, including Mack Brown, Pete Carroll, Nick Saban and Joe Paterno.

That's why you won't see mouthy Mack Brown or griping Pete Carroll turning down either program's second-tier BCS bowl destination out of principle.

You think if Texas and USC said "Guess what? Eff you and your bowls. We're going to go play each other at a neutral site for sponsorship and a TV deal we'll generate ourselves, and we're going to call the winner of our game the REAL national champ," BCS folks wouldn't blink?

Texas is ready to set up its own TV network, but still feels like it needs to remain part of the Big 12? For what? Same with USC.

The only solution is for the best programs to drop out of their conferences -- an offer open to any other team that wants to join them, prominent or not -- and form their own super-league, complete with a playoff system. At least for football. Just follow Notre Dame's lead: Conference affiliation for everything BUT football. The sponsor and TV money will quickly follow.

It's all well and good to complain about the system. Just remember that the folks with the real power to change it -- the most powerful coaches and programs -- don't do anything about it but talk. That makes them no more serious about reform than your average fan on a barstool. Per a commenter's astute point, this last line as originally written was insulting to fans, including you and me. Let's leave it at this: That makes them unserious about reform.

-- D.S.


Unknown said...

First, let's clarify something: Mack Brown and Pete Carroll and Joe Paterno can't make that call to snub their BCS invites. That is the Ath Dir and Univ Pres decision to make. Don't blame the coaches.

Second - the reason these guys aren't going to leave their conference is that they immediately have a scheduling problem -- and potentially could get stuck playing the other I-A independents, Sun Belt, etc. etc. A mass BCS exodus will only happen if several schools jump ship at the same time and, you are right, that's too much of a prisoner's dilemma for there to be any real cooperation there. The school that takes the risk could get left out in the cold. But so long as you agree to group Florida in with all these schools you are castigating, though, because they aren't any different, I am more or less with you.

Trenchman003 said...

Dan, your premise is excellent, but the last line in your post completely undermines your theory--that the coaches are no more serious than the average fan is a particularly galling insult to the lion's share of college fans everywhere.
I can't think of but a handful of people in the press (blogs included) and my personal circle of friends whom given the power that you ascribe to these coaches and their ability to call the BCS's bluff wouldn't do so. Like now. Or better yet, five minutes ago.
There is no shortage of fans whom given the president-elect's ear and an anti-trust exemption to saber rattle with wouldn't hesitate to bring about a playoff in one form or the other starting tomorrow. There's lots of ideas out there (I personally favor using the BCS bowls as quarter-final games--hello New Year's Day bowl Mecca; top six rated conference champions and two highest ranked wild cards with the proviso that ANY team who finishes undefeated gets in even if it means a play-in game or two), but the point is it's not the fans holding this thing up: You think Bevo's backers would care about stepping on a neutral field with Utah right now if it meant a semi-final rematch with Oklahoma in two weeks?
You are absolutely right to rip Carroll, Stoops, Brown, Paterno, Meyer, et al for talking playoffs when they're ranked #6 and being strangely silent when their name gets called for the championship game. But college football nation is smarter and more pragmatic than these individual names--we know that this system is irrevocably broken and aren't afraid to say so regardless of who's in the title game. The difference is we fans don't have the power to change this. To project the coaches' (and AD's, and university presidents') laziness on to college football fans as a whole does a disservice to passionate knowledgeable fans everywhere.

The Keither said...

Ummm....gonna have to call BS here, Dan. You've been one of the biggest complainers of the WHOLE system, yet, YOUR team gets in and its "Lets put it behind us". I'm out. You have just lost my respect with this one.