So, every year I gripe about this, write about it for anyone who will listen, and then use too much profanity and my writings are deleted. Now, though, I think I can control my emotions enough to get my thoughts down and still keep it family friendly. My problem is that the season ends with a bunch of “winners.” The irony is of all sports to ultimately go PC with the “everyone’s a winner” attitude, I would have thought football would be the last one to suck. How long until they quit keeping score? I like basketball, with their “one winner” mentality – the rest of the 300+ teams end the year as losers.
Clearly, the only reasonable ending to college basketball is a mini-tournament. Later, I’ll advocate my solution to this problem. With your help to fill any holes I miss, I will then craft it into a letter I intend to send to Congress, who have proven to only be concerned with doing anything beneficial for Americans in the sports arena. I’ve all but given up on US politics otherwise.
Strength of Schedule
My biggest complaint about the bowl selection process is there is no good measure of strength of schedule. The BCS poll only standardizes the fraction of votes from a number of polls. The problem is the polls rarely if ever take into consideration the strength of schedule. Consider Penn State. They played two decent teams this year – Iowa and Ohio State, losing both of those games. Their out of conference games were against Akron (3-9), Syracuse (4-7), Temple (9-3 with their best win over Navy and a loss to a D2 school), and Eastern Illinois (8-3 with their best win over Jacksonville State). Wisconsin wasn’t on their schedule. Their best win was Northwestern. And this is a team in contention for a BCS game, possibly at the exclusion of an undefeated Boise State team.
Another example could be UNC, who is 8-3 and looking for a good bowl game despite having two of their wins over D2 schools. Although, they do have multiple wins over ranked teams but also a loss against a terrible UVA team. But there are other examples of teams looking to get a BCS bid – TCU has only played tough teams Utah and BYU in their own conference, otherwise their schedule was worthless. Boise State can’t buy a game against teams atop the polls because they have proven to be a threat. This year, they got a game against a very good Oregon team and won. But that’s the only team on their schedule anyone would even call “decent.”
Texas is in the B12 that is normally pretty tough, but this year is horrible. Case in point is that Oklahoma State is the second best team in that conference. Some may argue that they could have 10 teams bowl eligible, but many of those teams only needed to win 2 games in conference and there were no “big time” games between a Big 12 team and another conference this year (the biggest was Oklahoma State and Georgia – oh, what could have been). Texas could make up for their weak conference schedule with a good out of conference schedule, but they played Louisiana-Monroe (6-5), Wyoming (6-6), UTEP (3-8), and Central Florida (7-4). Pathetic. Let me be clear, TCU has played a tougher schedule from their mid major conference and Texas should be being penalized for this pathetic schedule.
My point with this discussion is next week, Florida and Alabama play for the SEC title. They’ve both played good schedules, won all of their games, and are widely considered the two best teams in college football this year. How pathetic is it that we’re watching the national title game a month before the actual national title game? If Alabama loses or Florida loses, does that mean that those teams with one loss are worse than an undefeated Texas team that played nobody? Or even worse than undefeated Cincinnati, TCU, or Boise State? The polls will drop them because for whatever reason, college football teams are ranked by record more than strength of schedule.
There are six major conferences that are considered “BCS Conferences” and the winners of these conferences get automatic bidsto these major bowl games. The irony is that this was likely developed since these six conferences typically have better teams top to bottom than the other conferences, thus in a way rewarding them for a good strength of schedule. But in the last 4 years or so, that is debatable and in the last two years, the Mountain West Conferences has been as good or better than the bottom two conferences. Last year, the Big East and ACC sent their representatives to the BCS game but they had no business playing in a major bowl or getting the massive payout that comes with it. On the other hand, Boise State went undefeated and was left out.
Stupid Arguments and Alternatives
First, I acknowledge that my argument would be stronger if I didn’t call theirs stupid in the title, but I feel like I should be honest and call a spade a spade rather than leaving it to the reader to figure out that these arguments are stupid.
As years go by and it becomes clear that there is no rhyme or reason for why D1 football should not have a playoff, the arguments in favor of bowl games get weaker and weaker. My least favorite argument is that every regular season game is “like a playoff.” Sure, over the course of a season, we’d all like to think that every team will play a difficult schedule. But let’s not fool ourselves. Some teams play weak schedules, go undefeated, and because of the name on their jerseys, will get a shot at a title. Ohio State has made a tradition of getting blown out of bowl games because they are so woefully unprepared to face an actual quality opponent. But this is what happens when you play Toledo and Youngstown State out of conference and then stake a claim to playing great competition in conference even though all they have to support that stance is gaudy records and huge losses in bowl games through recent history.
So how is every game like a playoff if some teams are playing tough teams every game and other teams are playing weaker teams? How is it that the BCS doesn’t take into account schedules, only records? Name one playoff where one team gets to play cupcakes to the title while the other team is tested week in and week out. That’s the shit sandwich we’ll be fed this year. Alabama and Florida have played solid teams all year and we’re to believe that the game against Texas is their big game? What a joke. I’m not sure Texas would finish above Mississippi and LSU in the SEC this year.
But let’s assume that every game is like a playoff and all teams are created equal so being 11-0 is what will earn you a shot at the national title. In the past, how does one rectify the fact that multiple undefeated teams have been left at the end of the year? I’ll bring you back to the PC plague afflicting our country. In the real world, if you’re the best, it’s because you’ve beaten all contenders or you beat the best contenders. I mean, how does Boise State go undefeated last year and still not even get a BCA game, much less any consideration for being a national title contender despite the fact that they’ve gone through the “playoffs” undefeated. That’s bullshit, plain and simple. Americans are smarter than that and we deserve better than that.
So let’s stop dwelling in the past. This year, there are six unbeaten teams. What do you do with that? Another terrible solution that has been proposed is going to a “plus one” format that would take the winner of the national title game and force them to play one more game against an undefeated team.
Briefly, I’d like to talk about how bad this idea is. First, if you’re playing the #2 ranked team in the country and you win, that should be it – you just won the title. If some neanderthal thinks the best solution to bowl games not being able to identify a national champ is to take the team that just played for the national championship and match them up against some other good team that just played and beat a decent team, well, then that jackass should be shot. The problem with this solution is with the set-up. If the third best team is able to win against the best team, they’d be the national champs. All without ever having to face the other team that played for the national title. You see, the two teams that played for the title did so because they were theoretically the two best. It sucks for the best team to have to play the second best and then third best team to get the title. With the “plus one” format, you actually have the best chance to win the national title by finishing third in the regular season. It’s such a bad idea that I’m pretty sure it was thought up and put forward by some stupid fucking ex-football players.
So, back to my point, this year there are six undefeated teams. So, even with a “plus one” format and assuming it would be morphed into a realistic four team playoff with #1 playing #4 and #2 and #3 playing in the other game, that still leaves out the other two undefeated teams that are every bit as deserving of their shot at the national title because they went through the entire season, the season long playoff, without a loss. Again, a season should never end with multiple undefeated teams.
The Selection of BCS Teams
Another problem with this bullshit system is the selection of the teams. Apart from the fact that identifying the top 8 teams is really difficult, particularly when you are forced to include 6 teams even if some of them suck, there is another issue of how subjective the whole system is. Teams that draw fans will always get picked before more deserving teams. The problem with that is you have no idea if fans of TCU or Boise State will travel. Nobody has ever given them the chance. If I have to watch Notre Dame or Ohio State play in another undeserving BCS game, only to lose by 40, there’s a chance I snap and go postal on one of their campuses. It’s ridiculous. Clearly the NCAA is to blame for this clusterfuck, but I also blame the Notre Dames and Ohio States of the world for not recognizing they’re completely out matched and declining the invitation if for no other reason than to salvage their pride.
No True Champion
And this is nothing new. How the fuck did the BCS remain a viable option after LSU shared their championship in 2003? Let me refresh your memory. That was the sixth year of the BCS and LSU was ranked #2 with one loss that year. The BCS was put in place after the shared title in 1996 as a means of avoiding that mess. In 2003, LSU faced an overrated (because they didn’t play anyone all year) #1 ranked Oklahoma team, who also had one loss. LSU won. That much was expected. The debate was really why they got to be the team to play that overrated Oklahoma team. Some in the media thought it should have been Southern Cal who also had one loss. There were clearly 3 teams at the top of the polls. Like it or not, the winner of the BCS title game should have been the champion. So, what happens? USC played a 10-2 Michigan team, good but not as good as Oklahoma or they would have been playing for the title, and then the AP votes USC the champion. Besides the fact that this is the sportswriters spitting in the face of the worthless idea that is the BCS, it also resulted in a split national championship. Un-freaking-believable!
My solution to this mess is coming in a later article. In the meantime, I’d like to see what you think.