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Green: BCS never lacks excitement (Dec. 9)

Mary Green | Sunday, December 8, 2013

I hate to admit it, but I’m going to kind of miss the BCS.
Sure, it seemed fickle at times, with rankings produced by a combination of humans and computers looking at strengths of schedules, big wins and probably even uniforms and styles.
But it also produced down-to-the-wire, win-and-you’re-in games like yesterday’s Big-Ten and SEC Championships.
If this situation had taken place next year, when the college football playoff is in place, Ohio State need not have worried about dropping the conference title game to Michigan State. The Buckeyes still could have claimed one of the four postseason slots and retained their chance at a national championship.
But with the BCS this year, Urban Meyer and his squad knew its season was over, at least in terms of capturing the crystal football, as soon as the clock hit zero and the Spartans started to put on their official championship caps.
The same goes for Alabama, which did not even play in its conference championship game. The Crimson Tide needed losses from Florida State and Ohio State to have a prayer of advancing to Pasadena and claiming their third title in a row, but a big Seminoles win thwarted those dreams.
There are many BCS critics who say the current system is unfair because it helps one-loss teams that fell early in the season, like BCS Championship-bound Auburn, and hurts one-loss teams that gained their only blemish later down the road, like Alabama and Ohio State.
Yes, that certainly is not fair if your team is one of those that dropped a critical game late in the season. But if your team was also that vulnerable so close to bowl time, how would it have fared compared to a team that lost early and had more time to regroup and address its weaknesses?
From the perspective of a fan of the game with no cheering ties to schools with hopes of taking the title, there is nothing better than the drama that comes with the Saturday lineup of conference-championship games precisely because the implications of those matchups can be so titanic.
Look at the 2009 SEC Championship, which pitted undefeated No. 1 Florida against undefeated No. 2 Alabama. With a playoff system, both teams would have already had virtually guaranteed spots in the bracket, so the game might not have been as exciting and certainly would not have had as many consequences as it did.
But there was not a playoff system in 2009; there was the BCS, and Alabama took its spot in the championship by beating the Gators 32-13, while Florida and a crying Tim Tebow had to settle for a Sugar Bowl appearance.
Not only did this game quell any fears of fans outside the South of a potential all-SEC championship matchup, but it gave weight to a final contest before bowl season began. It provided an all-in, for-all-the-marbles game that entertained fans, no matter which team they rooted for.
The BCS has its faults, as any system does. If your school ends up on the short end of the stick when it comes to bowl selections, it is understandable to criticize the system that slighted you and your team.
But when you are just a fan cheering not for any particular team but just for a good game, the BCS keeps you filled up on drama, unpredictability and excitement.
I guess I’m just afraid we will lose that late-season magic, when every game has something on the line, this time next year.
Contact Mary Green at mgreen8@nd.edu