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Wake up and smell a playoff

Banish the BCS. Fans want the ultimate postseason

Posted: Tuesday December 6, 2005 12:23PM; Updated: Tuesday December 6, 2005 12:52PM
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The BCS may be pleased with its title game, but do you think Oregon fans are happy?
The BCS may be pleased with its title game, but do you think Oregon fans are happy?
Peter Read Miller/SI

It's coming thick and fast these days, the torrent of self-congratulation from the friends of the BCS. "We have delivered on our promise," they proclaim. "We have matched the top two teams in the country in a championship game!"

Splendid. We can't thank you enough, just as we can't wait for Jan. 4, if for no other reason than it will bring resolution, and an end to more than a month of hype; of breaking down every matchup, from Texas quarterback Vince Young vs. the USC secondary, to Bevo vs. Traveler, to O.J. vs. the Texas tower sniper.

The BCS folks proudly point out that there's only been one single occasion -- in 2003, when LSU and USC split the title -- that their obtuse formula hasn't worked. That's disingenuous: It was a mess last year, with Auburn undefeated and uninvited. In '01, an undeserving Nebraska squad backed into the title game (the Huskers didn't even make the Big 12 championship game) and was spanked by Miami. I could go on. Worthy teams are regularly screwed out of a $14 million-plus payday because the BCS insists on offering automatic bowl berths to teams that win their conferences -- even when those "championships" are as contrived and as fake as Carmen Electra's front porch.

There was Brent Musburger thumping the tub for the status quo during the fourth quarter of Florida State's first win in a month, a 27-22 upset of Virginia Tech in the inaugural ACC championship game: "How 'bout Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden," burbled Musburger, "that would be some matchup!" That's the angle the TV folks will be selling hard: Tune in for this clash of loveable septuagenarian sages! What the BCS and its apologists would like you to overlook is that the presence of the Seminoles in the BCS bowl mix is, to borrow from Woody Allen, a travesty of a mockery of a sham.

I don't blame Florida State. If someone was going to throw money at me, I'd try to catch it, too. But the truth is, the Seminoles, who finished 22nd in the BCS rankings, have no business in a showcase bowl. Not while 10-1, fifth-ranked Oregon is headed for Sea World and the Holiday Bowl.

BCS proponents who argue against a playoff invariably bring up the sanctity of the regular season. But their every-game-is-a-playoff argument has been fatally diluted by this abomination known as the conference championship.

I spoke to Texas coach Mack Brown about this last week and he pointed out that when the Big 12 introduced the idea of a conference title game, the league's coaches voted 12-0 against it, while the athletic directors were unanimous in favor. "What I would like to see," says Brown, "is for us to make progress from where we are."

Speaking several days before his Longhorns opened that industrial-sized drum of whoop-ass on Colorado, Brown pointed out, "We've got the possibility of Colorado being in the BCS at 8-4, Florida State being in the BCS at 8-4." What he would like to see -- and what a revolutionary concept this is -- is the best eight teams selected for BCS bowls, "Even if we're not ready to play 'em off. If someone wins their conference championship, fine, but don't give 'em an automatic bid."