BCS will never be perfect, but a quality control group would make it better
Posted: Tuesday December 9, 2003 12:00PM; Updated: Tuesday December 9, 2003 12:06PM
Now that the pigskin has been dropped again, there's only one thing to do with the Bowl Championship Series. Deal with it, folks.
You probably think I'm nuts.
Well, actually I'm with you. The BCS is an embarrassment to anyone with a tad of common sense and the time to park himself in front of the TV last Saturday night. But forget about polishing up the blueprint for a playoff system. It isn't happening. That goes for the dream of a championship game after the BCS bowls, too.
The college presidents aren't going near anything like a playoff for the football big boys. Oh, the presidents don't mind scrambling for a piece of the $120 million generated by the BCS. But the faculty debate on most campuses runs strongly against further commercialism of college sports. And the top-floor administrators are calling the shots now, not the athletic directors.
So what is the solution? How does one make the BCS believable?
First, recognize that it's an imperfect system and stuff is gonna happen. But instead of tweaking the system after stuff happens, it's time to set up a committee -- a quality assurance board, if you will -- to correct mistakes on the spot. Somebody with the gumption to say: Sorry, Oklahoma, you don't lose your conference championship game by four TDs to a three-loss Kansas State team and slide into the BCS national championship game.
So who should be on the committee? Throw out any names you like, but why not start with powerful behind-the-scenes character Cesar Robaina, who makes the Vegas betting line on college games? The guy has more riding on his evaluation of teams than anybody. We know, we know -- gambling and college ball aren't supposed to mix. So sign up NCAA boss Myles Brand or another representative from the governing body. And bring in someone from the media who isn't a shill, say, CBS analyst Todd Blackledge. Or maybe William Bennett, the former education secretary and self-proclaimed voice of ethics and virtue.
Speaking of Brand, why is Division I-A football the only postseason the NCAA doesn't run? This is inexcusable and needs to end so that we're not left listening to lame excuses from Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese and the other geniuses behind the BCS.
As it is, we're looking at two legitimate polls -- the AP and coaches' poll. Smart people should recognize this is enough. In the occasional instance of split polls, then go to the BCS standings as the tiebreaker to decide who plays for the national title. It's beyond goofy to have a situation in which Southern Cal, the No. 1 team in the AP and coaches' polls, ends up No. 3 with the BCS and out of the title game.
What we have is the third BCS controversy in the last four years and a possible split national championship. If you recall, Florida State got the second spot over a Miami team it lost to during the 2000 season, then Nebraska backdoored its way to the title game a year later despite getting blown out by Colorado in the season finale and not even qualifying for the Big 12 championship game.
Like everyone else, we were riding the Oklahoma bandwagon before Saturday. But while LSU and USC were taking care of business, the Sooners played like a team that spent the afternoon in Kansas City fattening up on hickory-smoked ribs at Arthur Bryant's.
You wonder if Bob Stoops' crew even had to show up to grab a BCS spot. Judging from OU remaining No. 1 after a 35-7 shellacking against Kansas State, the answer is a resounding no.
The computer nerds cut Stoops & Co. huge slack. But the real winner is LSU coach Nick Saban, still positioned to collect on a contract clause requiring the school to "pay him at least $1 more than the highest-paid college football coach" within 30 days of winning a BCS title.
So the themes of the Sugar Bowl are two: redemption and money.
Mike Fish is a senior writer for SI.com.