The Pirate Captain won. At North Carolina State, where student government elections were recently held, a candidate referring to himself only as the "Pirate Captain" was elected student-body president. Not only did the Pirate Captain (abetted by his de facto cabinet, the "Scurvy Crew") win 59 percent of the vote, but the turnout among the N.C. State student body was by far the greatest in the history of the school.
Some 25 percent of the Wolfpack's 30,000 students voted, and therein, mateys, is a lesson for the Bowl Championship Series. BCS officials will fail to learn from it, but by relating this fantastic yarn, at least I'll know that I tried.
Back to Raleigh. In March an unknown student calling himself "The Pirate Captain" submitted his name to be placed on the ballot for student body president. At N.C. State, students need only to have a valid student ID number in order to be put on the ballot and the bureaucratic buccaneer was able to remain anonymous.
Anonymous, but not silent. The Pirate Captain and his Scurvy Crew launched a hilarious Web site and even had a platform, or "plank", as they referred to it. This included "expanding the bus lines to haul thar peopled cargo to and fro from ACC bouts at the yonder RBC Center" and a promise that "We bae ready to cover the rising amount of doubloons it takes to bae here at this schoolin' amongst other issues o'concern."
Scalawag. Scoundrel. Genius.
The Pirate Captain was P.C. in acronym only. He and the Scurvy Crew canvassed the campus in buccaneer gear, raising eyebrows and concerns. "Voting for someone who wants to rid the campus of scurvy dogs," said sophomore Christopher Sanchez, "is not really an effective way of having student government."
The Pirate Captain understood his constituency. He understood that college students love anarchy, radical grassroots ideas and hilarious pranks. Didn't you see Animal House? By launching a campaign in which he reinvented himself as a character, the Pirate Captain put a grin on people's faces and appealed to the popular notion that student government is a farce, anyway, so why not give the voters a chance to prove it?
So, what does the Pirate Captain (real name: Will Piavis) have to do with the BCS? Following the 2006 season, college football will have a fifth BCS game -- the true national championship. The Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar Bowl will still be played, but none of those four will be for a national championship. Instead the fifth game, which will rotate among those four sites, will take place one week later involving the two highest-rated teams (neither of which will have played in those four other bowls -- i.e. we are not talking playoff yet).
The BCS is walking, ever so gingerly, down the plank toward a college football playoff. But has anyone noticed that each time they attempt to modify their formula, viewer interest wanes? Honestly, as appealing as the Oklahoma-Southern California matchup was prior to the game, weren't you burned out on college football by kickoff? Were you really more excited about the prospects of last January's Orange Bowl than you were of the Texas-Oklahoma, Cal-USC doubleheader that took place in October?
The Pirate Captain represents radical change. He represents upheaval that was only possible because voters were frustrated by the current political system. He also represents passion. The BCS is the antithesis of all that. It is incremental, it is circumspect and it's fecklessness (just ask Auburn) inspires more frustration. It is, in short, exactly like most student governments.
I happen to be a fan of the old, anarchic and imperfect way of selecting a national champion. I'm a fan of the bowl system. However, I'd rather see a four-team playoff -- while preferring a reformation, back to the pre-BCS, pre-Bowl Coalition bureaucracy of the 1990s -- than the tortured tweaking that is forever being done to this sport.
If the BCS is itching to scupper the bowl system in exchange for a playoff, then have at it. If not, then stop diluting the bowl season by adding yet another game -- and week -- to it. While such an addition will add a few more doubloons to the BCS' treasure chest, it also means fan interest in college football will be heading in the direction of Davey Jones' locker.