Can We Get Rid Of The Bcs?
Ever since 1998, when Tennessee defeated Florida State 23-16 in the Fiesta Bowl, the Bowl Championship Series, or BCS, has run rampant on college football. It was supposed to deliver a clear cut national champion, #1 vs. #2, in a no holds barred, winner take all battle. The reasoning was to pit the best of the best, instead of a bunch of “disorganized, haphazard bowl selections where some bowls were making decisions on who to invite after seven or eight games of the regular season.” In short, it was supposed to be a positive for the sport.
Instead, all it has bred is controversy, contempt, chaos and most importantly, calls for change.
As the 2009 season barrels on into November, there still are slightly more than a handful of unbeaten teams remaining. Yet, the way it looks, only 3, and perhaps four, have a true legitimate shot at playing for the national title come January if they continue to play out the string. At least one is destined to take a loss, as if both Florida and Alabama win out, they would face each other in the SEC Championship Game. Texas still has a matchup in the Big 12 title game, and provided they avoid being upset by Kansas, they would be undefeated. The Big 12 North is rather weak this year, as evidenced by Kansas State leading the division with a 3-2 conference record at the moment.
There also is Iowa, who is unbeaten in the Big 10, and looks to win their first outright conference title in quite a while. However, they’ve been hurt by ugly wins over such football powerhouses as Northern Iowa, where they needed two blocked field goals in the dying seconds to win, and Arkansas State, where they prevailed by just three. They beat Michigan by 2, then had to score on the last play of the game to get by Michigan State. This past week, Ricky Stanzi didn’t throw an incompletion in the second half. Unfortunately, four of those were to Indiana players, and Iowa needed four fourth quarter touchdowns to get by the Hoosiers. They still have a gritty Northwestern squad and Ohio State looming on their docket.
Then there are the trio of “mid major” conference teams that are unbeaten. Cincinnati, who leads the Big East, TCU in the Mountain West, and Boise State in the WAC, are all unbeaten and ranked 5th, 6th and 7th in the latest BCS rankings released this week. The Bearcats have a tough road ahead with Connecticut, West Virginia, a struggling Illinois team and then a season closing battle with #13 Pittsburgh. If they can run the table, one would have to think that they could be in consideration for a bid, but I still don’t see them jumping into the top two. They’d get a BCS bid, but they wouldn’t be playing for the national title.
TCU is another team that will get stymied by the level of competition they play. Yes, they did beat ACC teams Virginia and Clemson this season. They also thrashed then #16 BYU, but teams like Texas State, Air Force and UNLV don’t really impress the voters all that much. Neither does New Mexico or Wyoming, two of the remaining opponents for the Horned Frogs. Their best chance to impress left is when they face #14 Utah in two weeks, and even that won’t propel them up the rankings I don’t believe.
That leads us to the seemingly perennial fly in the BCS’ ointment, Boise State. The Broncos busted their way into the BCS a couple years ago and used a hook and ladder and the Statue of Liberty play to stun Oklahoma. They’re back again this year with a new cast of characters and showing no signs of slowing down. They knocked off Oregon in week one, in a game that saw Ducks running back LeGarrette Blount get suspended for a postgame punch to Boise State’s Byron Hout. The problem is, the Broncos haven’t played anyone with name recognition since. Miami of Ohio, Fresno State, Bowling Green, UC Davis, Tulsa, Hawaii, and San Jose State have all fallen as victims. Louisiana Tech, Idaho, Utah State, Nevada and New Mexico State all remain on the slate for the Broncos. Now, yes, Nevada is undefeated in conference play, and Idaho has won seven of nine this season, but are they to be considered contenders? I think not, unless you’re talking contenders for a second or third tier bowl game. After all, Idaho’s two losses were to Washington and then to Nevada 70-45. Nevada dropped their first three of the season, to Notre Dame (35-0), Colorado State (35-20) and Missouri (31-21). It was only after getting into conference play that they started clicking.
Where does this leave us in the grand scheme of things? Well, at the second, it leaves us the same place that college football fans have been since the beginning: wanting. A playoff system like what the FCS has would rectify a lot of issues, but conference honchos are up in arms, probably over the amount of potential revenue lost for their conferences and individual schools from said bowl games. BCS conferences received $17.5 million in revenues last season for teams appearing in a contest. There has been talk that Senator Orrin Hatch has petitioned President Barack Obama to spearhead an antitrust investigation into the BCS.
Do I like the Bowl Championship Series? No. Do I think that anything will be changed? Probably not. Would I be a proponent of the playoff system if they rolled something out? Certainly. Could you imagine pro sports going to something like the BCS? There’d be a mutiny. Fans and teams would be working together, storming the league offices in droves, seeking answers and their pound of flesh. Is that what it will take to get the NCAA to quit turning a deaf ear to the situation?