Friday, December 12, 2008

Things I don't understand #63...

...How many times, and how many ways, the BCS can screw up one of the greatest sports.

I can't believe that after all these years, it's only getting worse. As a bonus, this year it was actually the team I support that got screwed (Yea BCS!). It's just almost too painful to discuss. But I'm going to go through it all, yet again. Main point: There should be a playoff in college football. Sub points: This is just really ridiculous; You've got to have 16 teams; All opposing arguments are completely ludicrous and are rendered void on a yearly basis.

I got to thinking the other day about if you met a guy who recently moved to the U.S., and who also was a big sports fan. He recognized the huge popularity of college football, yet was confused about the process of finding a champion. Imagine in your mind that scenario and then imagine as you begin your explanation. How convoluted does it sound after 30 seconds? How foolish do you feel after 60? The BCS is basically like a boxing match going to the judges if most of the judges didn't actually watch the fight but just looked at the punching stats the next day and then combined that with the boxers' reputations. I imagine the foreigner replying with one word, "Preposterous!" And that's what it is. We need a playoff system.

The playoff system should be 16 teams because there are 11 conferences and 120 teams. Obviously everyone can't play everyone else, so a weeding out process must be employed. I would eliminate any conference champion with more than 4 losses (just in case one of those "other" conference champs goes 6-6 or somethin') and then leave the empty slots to be filled with at-large bids. If you don't include all the conferences you leave a major problem unsolved. That being that every team in the top division should start the year with a chance at winning a championship. Currently, this is not true. Ask Utah and Boise St. And limiting it to 8 teams would still make that likely. Plus, you still risk leaving out teams with legitimate arguments. This year being a prime example. Either Boise St. at 12-0 or Penn St. at 11-1 would be left out of a 8-team playoff. And even with 16 teams, it is still one of the most exclusive post-seasons in sports. So 16 it is.

Now a response to the various arguments for the current system (really, what are these people thinking...or whose dole are they on?). #1) "Each week is a playoff." Really? Like the week Texas played OU? Or the week Florida lost AT HOME to a pedestrian Ole' Miss? What about the week that Boise St. lost? Oh wait, they didn't. So they won their "playoff" yet somehow find themselves playing in the...(you don't even know what bowl they're in do you? You're never gonna believe this...) the Ponsietta Bowl. I bet you don't even know where it's played.
#2) "That would be too many games and these are student athletes." Seriously? If a playoff were introduced, the regular season would most likely return to 11 games instead of 12. That means the two teams that make it to the championship would play 15 games. OU and Florida will both end up playing 14 games this year. Plus, every other level of the NCAA has a playoff. So I think they can handle it. #3) "A playoff would make games less important or exciting." Sure, OU vs. OSU did have drama, along with Florida vs. Alabama. But what about all those good teams that had been eliminated from championship contention and were just playing out the string? And honestly, OU vs. OSU would have retained much of its importance because OSU would have been playing for their playoff lives instead of just hoping to ruin OU's title run. The same for Florida-Florida St., or Georgia-Georgia Tech, or Ohio St.-Mich, or Penn St.-Mich St., or BYU-Utah, get my drift? For every game that the stakes are reduced there a multiple games, no, make that teams that all the sudden become relevant with the introduction of a playoff. So, as you can see, those objections are dumb.

Now, we get to look at this year's mythical bracket. I decided to make it easier on myself and just use the last set of rankings and the winners from the conference championship games. This may seem like a no-brainer to you, but because I'm convinced that a playoff would mean the end of such games, I've ignored them in the past. But I'm going for less mental gymnastics and taking the easy way out. Sorry. Here we go. Just imagine how glorious it would be if instead of switching our attention to basketball this week we were gearing up for a tournament that sported this bracket of potential match-ups. FYI's: For the first time in 5 years, the Sun Belt winner actually qualifies, thusly Okla. St or Georgia Tech (depending on if there was a cap of 3 teams per conference) find themselves on the outside looking in. And the Mt. West conference gets 2 teams in while the Pac 10 gets 1 (ouch).
(1) Oklahoma - Big 12 Champ (BCS #1)
(16) Troy - Sun Belt Champ (NR)

(8) Penn St. - Big 10 Champ (#8)
(9) Boise St. - WAC Champ (#9)

(5) USC - Pac 10 Champ (#5)
(12) Cincinnati - Big East Champ (#12)

(4) Alabama - At large (#4)
(13) Va. Tech - ACC Champ (#19)

(3) Texas - At large (#3)
(14) E. Carolina - C-USA Champ (NR)

(6) Utah - Mountain West Champ (#6)
(11) TCU - At large (#11)

(7) Texas Tech - At large (#7)
(10) Ohio St. - At large (#10)

(2) Florida - SEC Champ (#2)
(15) Buffalo - MAC Champ (NR)

BTW, ESPN has a feature where you can simulate a 16 team playoff. It doesn't have all the teams available, but it's still kinda cool to look at.

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