Go ahead, pile on. Everyone else is. The Bowl Championship Series makes for an even fatter target now that Nebraska, which got its butt kicked by Colorado on Nov. 23, will get a shot at the national tide against Miami in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 3.
Is the BCS flawed? Hell yes. So is Ellen Barkin, but she gets the job done for me. Conceived by the commissioners of the power conferences—a distinctly unsympathetic collection of suits—it relies on polls and the computer formulas of a bunch of guys with pocket protectors. It makes for hurt feelings, but it beats the alternative, a postseason tournament.
Colorado and Oregon fans, take a Valium. If you win the Fiesta, and the Cornhuskers knock off Miami, the AP voters will make you No. 1 in their final poll, regardless of the BCS. We'll have a split tide, a bar-stool argument for the decades. The sun will still rise on Jan. 4.
To all you other teams marinating in bitterness over your failure to be selected for the national championship game ( Illinois), or for any BCS bowl at all (BYU), there's a way to avoid such disappointment. Win all your games. To my hoops-addled colleague and everyone else agitating for a playoff—January Madness?—face it: We'll get a postseason tournament over the dead bodies of the university presidents, who aren't about to extend the season any further.
Critics also carp that giving the national title game to one bowl detracts from the other major bowls. That beats the heck out of devaluing the entire regular season, which is what would happen if you instituted a playoff. Hey, we lost a couple of games, but don't sweat it—that just means we'll get a lower seed.
There's a name for people who don't mind a meaningless regular season. They're called hockey fans.
A football champion should be a team that has won football games, not computer games or accident-of-birth games or smoke-filled-room games. The Bowl Championship Series simply gives a pass into the finals to two teams with which it has a business relationship. Before their blowout loss to Hawaii last Saturday, when Brigham Young was still unbeaten, the Cougars were told they weren't even good enough to qualify for an eight-team playoff, in part because some blazer-wrapped bowl "scout" had lugged his cooler to Provo and said so.
A playoff would diminish the regular season? Tell that to Auburn and Alabama, Florida and Florida State, Michigan and Ohio State. College presidents will never sign off on a few extra postseason games? If we know one thing about the rulers of college sports, it's that they'll consider anything that makes money. BYU plays a schedule stuffed with goose down? Yes, through little fault of its own, while BCS powers lard up their nonconference schedules with North Texas, Louisiana-Monroe, Troy State—anyone but the BYUs.
The NCAA basketball tournament bewitches the public every March because it forces 64 teams to play one game after another for the highest of stakes. No one gainsays the legitimacy of a champion that has won six games in a row. We tune in because, in a distinctly American way, the event braids excellence with opportunity: The best team wins, but the little guy gets a shot as well.
So let that BCS mainframe live to crunch another day, but have it spit out seedings for an NCAA football tournament. Otherwise, only Notre Dame and the elite of six conferences will ever get to compete for a title that the lords of the game have the gall to call "national."