Two Cents: Time to Flush BCS in Favor of Playoff System (12/3/2004)

(I worked as a Sports Editor from late 2004 until the summer of 2006. This is one of the many columns I was able to save that were originally published in The Sun-Times of Heber Springs, Arkansas.)

In seasons past, the inequity of the BCS system merely was a topic of conversation for me. The ignorance of the committee never struck close enough to home for me to become enraged at their decision-making process.

Until this year.

This fall is the first in 15 seasons that Auburn can claim sole possession of the SEC title. 15 years ago, no one had ever heard of the BCS; a simple time in which national champions were decided on the field instead of by a computer.

Regular readers know that I am a die-hard Tiger fan of almost three decades. Although they have fielded some very formidable teams in that time with exceptional players, I have never been able to enjoy a national championship.

The last time Auburn was crowned number one at the end of the season, my mother was just eight years old. So, on the 47th anniversary of that date, the Tigers are awarded for their first ever 12-win season with the shaft.

Courtesy of the BCS (to be forever known in this space as the Biggest Crappiest System ever). Auburn’s achievements this year include going undefeated in the SEC, beating three top 10 teams (one on the road), handing LSU – the defending co-national champ – its first loss of the season and did I mention cruising through the Southeastern Conference without a scratch?

It’s worth listing twice because I (and I’m confident that more than a few of you out there agree) believe it is the toughest conference in America. If a team can do that, they deserve a shot no matter what their non-conference schedule is like.

Speaking of which, I’ve simultaneously heard that Auburn has a higher strength of schedule than either USC or Oklahoma, but their non-conference games wound up hurting them. What?

First of all, when you’re facing the likes of Georgia, Tennessee, LSU, Alabama, and the like on your regular season slate, you deserve a break. I don’t care if it’s three games against Rhodes College down in Memphis.

Secondly, looking at the Trojans and Sooners non-league schedule I don’t see any world-beaters there, with the exception of Virginia Tech whom SC beat early in the season.

And don’t get me started on the Pac-10. I firmly believe that if Vandy or South Carolina (pre-Spurrier) were to become members, they would be right in the middle of the pack, duking it out with Oregon and Washington.

Oklahoma and USC both played and beat just one top 10 team in the regular season, but since they were ranked one and two the entire year, they get a free pass. And to top it all off, many believe the reason the Trojans were preseason number one was because they got jobbed in last year’s BCS poll.

Auburn gets the Sugar Bowl, but the scientists down at BCS headquarters didn’t see fit to even give them a quality opponent.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Virginia Tech (9-2), but wouldn’t we all rather see the Tigers rip unbeaten Utah to shreds?

Auburn’s not the only school licking its wounds after Saturday. California, who has just one loss, didn’t even get to play in a BCS bowl. They get to look forward to a Holiday Bowl matchup with Texas Tech.

The bottom line is there needs to be a playoff system. Everyone knows this, even my mom agrees, and she doesn’t know that Cadillac’s real name is Carnell.

Some years ago, I figured out a playoff system that made a lot of sense. But it has been long forgotten like most events that took place in the 90s.

In figuring out another solution to the dilemma for this column, it took me about three minutes to find a fix. It might be flawed but is the current “system” any better? You decide.

In order for it to work, the upper echelon bowls would still have to be involved. Keep the current BCS standings in place, take the top five bowls and let them play.

After those bowls have been decided, the winner of the Orange gets a bye, while the other four teams play three more games with the eventual winner to meet the Orange bowl victor. Thus, a truer national champion is crowned.

I know that there is a limited amount of time off for these student athletes, so a remedy would be to get rid of four lower tier bowls to make way for the new playoff system.

Bowls like Champ Sports, Continental Tire, New Orleans Bowl, GMAC, and others could host the playoff games, and since they are already sponsored by corporate entities, the money wouldn’t be a problem.

The money would increase along with television ratings and an overall acceptance by the college football universe. Until a mid-major goes undefeated and fails to get a BCS bid.

Or we could scrap all that and just have a playoff game after the bowl season. I for one would like to see Auburn (assuming they beat the Hokies) take on USC or Oklahoma for the undisputed championship.

But for this season, I just want something. I’ll even take a co- with my championship. I don’t want to wait another 47 years for my chance to get a commemorative issue of Sports Illustrated featuring the Tigers holding a crystal football on the cover.

I want to be able to call my Crimson Tide fans and bellow “War Eagle!”, until I’m blue in the face or they hang up on me. Maybe this will be the final straw that breaks the weakened back of this flawed system. Hopefully, it will change soon. I’m not sure how much more of this college football can take. I want it to be resolved soon, because waiting 47 years for another title shot won’t cut it.

Categories: Football, sports

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