Hoping For One Last Chance at BCS Chaos
Well the initial Bowl Championship Series rankings for the 2013 college football season were released last night, and already there were a couple surprises/controversies; Florida State (ranked #3 in both polls) jumping up to number 2 over Oregon, and a one-loss Stanford team being ranked ahead of undefeated Baylor, for example. But at this point in the season these are just water-cooler talking points. No, the real controversies start later in the season, when things really DO matter.
Before I even get started here, let me state for the record I am not of fan of the BCS. National rankings, national title chances and ultimately huge payouts based on computers and votes from biased coaches, whom most assuredly haven’t watched the games, just has never made sense to me and never will.
There’s way too much at stake to leave to chance, not the least being over $100 million in BCS bowl money. The difference between making a BCS bowl and a non-BCS bowl is, well, enormous. Last year for example, the BCS Bowls cut checks of $17 million to each of the schools playing in Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta bowl games, and $18 million each to Notre Dame and Alabama for the National Championship Game (and no Notre Dame wasn’t asked to refund theirs although they probably should have been). The system has been flawed from the beginning, and continues to reward schools who’s teams are undeserving only because of conference affiliation or non-affiliation, while penalizing those who were most assuredly better than those chosen to go BCS bowling.
If you remember, an 8-5 Wisconsin squad returned to the Rose Bowl last year and received the subsequent payment of $17 million, in this case because the BCS system was set up to reward the major conferences (Big 10) and their schools – and yes the Badgers went on to lose their 6th game of the year (to Stanford). And then there was Northern Illinois, with an incredibly soft 12-1 record getting an Orange Bowl bid (and the $17 million). No one besides the Huskies themselves actually believed they were worthy of the bid, and NIU of course proceeded to get thumped 31-10 by Florida State. Texas A&M meanwhile, with an 11-2 record in the SEC (and the only team to beat Alabama), had to settle for a Cotton Bowl berth and a $3.6 million dollar pay day – not chump change by any means but a far cry from $17 million. Johnny Manziel and company steamrolled the 10-2 Sooners 41-13, making a statement for sure, but still coming home with $13.4 million less than Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. Fair? Of course not. Flawed to the point of ridiculous? Of course.
Well thank the Sporting Gods we are finally in the last year of this ludicrous system. With next year starting a four-team seeded playoff, consisting of two semifinal games in bowls and a national championship game that will be put up for bid, some sensibility is on the horizon. Are 4 teams enough? That’s up for debate (I don’t believe so), but at least it’s a start. As Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman put it, “I don’t think any of us are naive to assume it ends the controversy, we’ll pick four teams, and there’ll be a fifth team (worthy).”
But let’s stay in the here and now and see where we are for the 2013 season and the hunt for the national championship game berth. The unbeatens are down to 10 teams – Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Ohio State, Missouri, Baylor, Miami, Texas Tech, Fresno State and Northern Illinois. No offense Fresno and NIU but you’re already out of any conversation I’m having, so I’m starting with 8 unbeatens as of today. Now either Bama or Mizzou is guaranteed to lose a game thanks to the SEC Championship game, Florida State and Miami will face off on Nov. 2 in Tallahassee, and Baylor and Texas Tech will put it on the line November 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Isn’t it great when teams actually play one another to see who is better? What a concept!
So potentially that could leave as unbeaten the three winners of those situations, as well as Oregon and Ohio State. Five unbeaten teams? Doesn’t seem likely and it probably won’t happen, but wouldn’t the chaos be wonderful if it did? I’d love nothing more than to send the BCS out as the “BS” it actually is, with cries of outrage and scandal. Although come to think of it, even next year with the new 4-team playoff system, 5 unbeaten teams would be quite a mess.