The BCS is stupid.
There, I said it. And I, along with many other college football fans in America, truly believe it. Witnessing only two teams being given a shot at the title each year sticks a thorn in our sides. If we’re lucky, two teams will share the grand prize, as seen when LSU and USC were awkwardly named “co-champions” in 2004. Imagine the uproar that would have ensued if the Tigers and Cardinals had tied this year’s World Series!
This will be the ninth year in which the “BCS formula” (which is way too complicated for the average fan and probably most players to comprehend) will determine who plays for the NCAA Division I Football Title. Not only is the championship game decided in this fashion, but every other meaningful bowl game is as well. The impersonal bowl approach was started before the 1992 season as a way for the biggest athletic conferences to assure their best teams a big game – rolled in with a few million dollars of profit. Essentially the same takes place today, except the practice was institutionalized and given a catchy name before the 1998 season: the Bowl Championship Series.
As a result, the teams who have won in the past have a much better shot at getting to bowl games again. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly enjoy watching great teams such as Ohio State, Michigan, Florida and USC play in January. But, I would love even more to see smaller-name schools like TCU, Boise State and Tulane (all of whom have been denied BCS berths in the past) complete their dream seasons by playing in one of the biggest games of the year. Forget the Yankees; the BCS is the true Evil Empire of the sports world.
Consider this issue as well: Division I-A college football is the only major athletic league without a playoff system. Every other sport makes its best teams prove that they really are the best teams by winning in the pressurized atmosphere of the postseason. Even Division I-AA college football has chosen the playoff route and the excitement it brings was surely felt by any Colgate football fan present during the magical 2003 season. A championship should be a journey for a team, not something handed to them on a silver platter. These are football players after all; they can handle some additional adversity.
The lack of a playoff system also excludes all teams outside the top two from title contention entirely. Fallout from this problem was seen directly during the 2005 BCS, when a talented Auburn team was barred from the title game despite posting a perfect 12-0 regular-season record. The Tigers’ also did so with the hardest schedule of any team while playing in the respected SEC; still, unbeatens USC and Oklahoma were ranked higher. Things were made even worse when the Trojans absolutely hammered the Sooners in the title game 55-19. Can anyone in their right minds say that Auburn shouldn’t have had a chance to show their worth? This type of situation will almost undoubtedly rear its ugly head again in the next decade.
Advocates of the BCS claim that it ensures teams play every game to win and forces star players not to sit out their final games like in the NFL. They compare it to presidential elections: a wide array of candidates is eventually withered down to two through primaries (a.k.a. the regular season). To them I say this: look where that has gotten us for the past six years.
Seriously, though, these people may have a point, but the negative side far outweighs the positive side of the BCS. There’s enough controversy narrowing the field down to 16 or 12 teams for the playoffs in most sports, so how can college football choose only two? Wake up college football! Create a playoff system with 16 teams and four consecutive Saturdays of amazing games. Give everyone a chance to win! And down with the BCS!