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BCS isn’t BS

Bill Brink | Monday, December 3, 2007

I started this column with every intention of pile-driving the BCS into the ground. I had scores of undisputable evidence concluding that the system was flawed and that the only solution was a playoff system in the style of March Madness.

But you’ve heard it all before.

Since its inception, we’ve all been made aware of the system’s shortcomings. How it misplaces teams in the national championship. How it takes a degree in computer science to predict bowl winners with any semblance of accuracy. How it doesn’t give undefeated teams like Hawaii a chance to play in the national championship even though Boise State proved last season that mid-majors can compete.

The more I thought about it, I realized that this is exactly why the BCS works.

Hypothetical situation: The NCAA institutes a 16-team playoff system, set up like one region of the college basketball tournament so that the No. 1 plays the No. 16 seed, etc. If that were in place this season, No. 8 USC would play No. 9 Oklahoma in the first round. The Trojans’ disaster of a loss to Stanford would mean nothing in that scenario. As it is today, it means everything.

If your team loses in a tournament, who do you blame? The players or the coaches. With the BCS, you can blame the computer rankings, the Associated Press and a multitude of other factors for keeping your team out of the championship. Much more fun.

In a crazy season such as this, the BCS is the perfect solution. The great thing about this football season was the parity. LSU’s triple-OT losses, Boston College’s last-minute comeback, Central Florida’s brief moment in the spotlight, Appalachian State making fans everywhere but Ann Arbor giddy with excitement, West Virginia and Missouri both throwing away their shot at the bayou at the same time – none of this would be nearly as interesting without the BCS in place to intensify the mess. This year, a playoff would not work. Tennessee, at 9-4, would have a chance at the championship in a playoff system. Completely unacceptable.

Also, the BCS is only nine years old. It’s a fluid system that continues to evolve. Hawaii has a BCS bowl this season, following in the footsteps of Utah and Boise. Should it win, it will become even more apparent that mid-majors with perfect records against weak schedules may in fact be pretty good. It’s only a matter of time before one reaches the championship game.

Finally, it’s just plain fun. Who didn’t have a blast Saturday night after West Virginia and Missouri lost arguing about whether Georgia, LSU or Virginia Tech will play the Buckeyes in New Orleans? The BCS may not be perfect, but it’s an important part of the game, much as the strike zone is in baseball. You may hate it, you may vilify it, and you may think you have alternatives. But this season wouldn’t be what it was without it.