With BCS, all reality is gone
December 8, 2003
By Jared Green
Tribune staff writer
This just in: Reno High’s football state championship was revoked today by the folks who run the Bowl Championship Series. According to the new BCS-ruled system, Saturday’s thrilling 26-23 victory over Las Vegas High was simply a figment of the imagination.
The Huskies never even got a chance at the title, as Douglas High and Las Vegas, the top seeds from their regions, battled it out in the only postseason game that mattered. The Reno players spent their Saturday shoveling snow and wondering what might have been.
Welcome to BCS World, where computers decide everything and the postseason is short and sweet. Carmelo Anthony and his Syracuse team that you think swept through the NCAA Tournament like a cold winter breeze? Forget it. March Madness no longer exists. Arizona won over Texas in the one-game championship, remember? It’s coming back to us now.
The Orangemen didn’t even finish in the top 10 and were relegated to the Depends Diapers Bowl in Tichidoula, Miss., where they narrowly defeated Creighton with 1,432 people in attendance. It’s not quite as good as a national championship, but they should probably be glad just to be there. Who needs “One Shining Moment” when you’ve got the Diaper Bowl trophy?
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We’ll bet you think the Florida Marlins won the World Series. Think again, bucko. The Yankees beat Atlanta for the umpteenth time, carrying George Steinbrenner to the promised land after a 101-win season, making them the only team in baseball to pay more than $1 million per victory. The BCS eliminated the early rounds of the playoffs, a move that finally made Bob Costas shut up about the good old days when he was a boy and there was only the World Series.
In case you haven’t heard, the BCS is the reigning system in Division I college football. Designed to match up the two best teams in an apocalyptic, winner-take all bowl game, it instead gives fans a headache. Oklahoma didn’t win its conference, but the Sooners are in. LSU was third heading into the final weekend of the regular season and passed a team that won by a huge margin (USC) but not a team that lost by 28 points (Oklahoma). The Tigers are in.
Who’s out? The No. 1 team in the country, that’s who. USC tops The Associated Press and coaches’ polls, won the Pac-10, suffered its only loss in triple-overtime and has put together better performances than Paris Hilton. The Trojans’ smallest margin of victory was 17 points and they’ve scored at least 43 points in each of their last seven games.
Basically, the BCS race was decided by a game played thousands of miles away from Norman, Okla., Baton Rouge, La., and Los Angeles. Boise State beat Hawaii 45-28 on Saturday night in Honolulu and that put LSU into the Sugar Bowl. How’d that happen, you ask? Well, USC thumped Hawaii back in September, and the BCS computers put a huge weight on opponents’ records. So Boise State’s beating the Rainbows was more important than the 35-7 pasting Oklahoma took at the hands of Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship game.
Let’s look at the teams LSU beat outside of its conference: Louisiana-Monroe, Arizona, Western Illinois and Louisiana Tech. That’s weaker than the lineup of Democratic presidential candidates, but by way of playing in the Southeastern Conference the Tigers have a better strength of schedule than USC, enough to make the difference between playing in New Orleans and facing Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Apparently the USC administrators should have seen the Pac-10’s mediocre season coming years ago and petitioned for a conference switch. That was a big oversight.
This is the biggest fiasco in the short history of the BCS, but by no means the first. Two seasons ago Nebraska snuck into the championship game despite not even making their conference championship game, leaving Pac-10 champion Oregon, which was ranked second in both polls, out in the rain.
This leads to the cry for a playoff system. Athletic directors, school presidents and conference commissioners say adding more games to the schedule would keep the players out of the classroom too long, as if most Division I football players are in the lab doing chemistry experiments when they’re not practicing.
The real reason is money and power structure. The BCS allows the big programs to shut out the little programs, keeping the lion’s share of the bowl revenue within their inbred family.
No one objects to a playoff system in every other sport and even the lower divisions of football. The Division I-AA champion will play 16 games and Reno High played 14 on the way to the state title. Division I players have spring practice, summer practices and fall training camp, getting the benefit of the most advanced training this side of that Russian guy in “Rocky IV.” Something tells me they can put up with the hardships of playing two or three more games.
– Tribune staff writer Jared Green can be reached at (530) 542-8008 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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