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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The BCS – Good Riddance

The final Bowl Championship Series Championship Game was played Monday night. It ended in a spectacular fashion. The Florida State Seminoles beat the Auburn Tigers, 34-31, at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA on a last-second touchdown pass from Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston to wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.

The game secured an unbeaten year and the national championship of the 2013 season for the Seminoles. The BCS era of college football ended with a contest that could only be described as a timeless classic. It’s great to end on a high note. However, there will be no waxing nostalgic about the BCS among college football fans.

Even the logo has more integrity. 1


The College Football Playoff will begin in January of 2015 to determine the national champion of the 2014 season.  The Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl will serve as national semifinal games with the winners advancing to the national championship game roughly two weeks later. Four teams…two games…everyone has to run a gauntlet to claim the ultimate prize in college football.

Gone are the days to conference one-upsmanship. Many detractors of the SEC’s reign of dominance will quickly point to the fact that the SEC Champion is a de facto participant in the National Championship Game. While I think that has been justified every year, I could also point to the 2004 season in which Auburn University finished 12-0, winning the SEC. Auburn was passed over for the 2005 Orange Bowl in favor of Pac-10 champion Southern California and Big XII champion Oklahoma.

My personal message to the BCS.... 3
BCS – Bull Crap/ S___

Gone are the days of incessant politicking by teams who didn’t cut it during the regular season, but whose BCS fates were decided by their Head Coach’s lifetime achievement and program reputation. SEC Eastern Division runner up Georgia had strong victories and a strong schedule in the 2007 season. They finished the regular season with two losses.

There were no unbeaten teams from major conferences left standing. Ohio State was the sole team near the top of the BCS with only one loss. Their opponent would be a two loss team. University of Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt made an impassioned plea through the media: he had to face Florida, Tennessee, and South Carolina. SEC champion LSU lost to inferior competition, albeit in overtime. Richt was effectively told, “Sorry. If you don’t win your division, you can’t win the BCS title. Besides, Les Miles’ LSU team was ‘unbeaten in regulation’.”

Fast forward to the 2011 season. LSU is 13-0 following their SEC Championship Game win over SEC East Division champion Georgia. Among those 13 wins was a win over SEC West Division runner up Alabama at Alabama. Nick Saban made his case to the press. The first match with LSU was decided in overtime. Bama “truly” is the second best team in the country; they could whip any of the other conference champions.

Richt and Big 12 Champion Oklahoma State University Head Coach Mike Gundy had good cause to go to bed laughing at Saban. Richt’s Bulldogs finished second in the conference. Gundy’s OSU Cowboys won their conference. Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide couldn’t even win its division.

If this bull is headed north, the BCS was full of what comes out of the south end. 4
SURPRISE! Alabama is handed a spot in the 2012 BCS Championship Game on the strength of human poll voters. The same team that couldn’t win its division or beat LSU at home received a rematch at a neutral site as if the first contest with LSU were an exhibition. Alabama won the rematch before a 50/50 LSU/Bama crowd in the Louisiana Superdome and hoisted the crystal football.

 In spite of finishing with an inferior record to LSU at 12-1 (LSU finished 13-1), in spite of failing to beat LSU in its own house during the regular season, in spite of failing to win its division and in spite of the fact that LSU was the champion of the Southeastern Conference, to which Alabama belonged, the BCS would have us believe that Alabama was a true national champion.

I wouldn't blame the guys in purple and gold for delivering a sneaky gut punch at the bottom of the pile. 2

There are several “BCS – BS” stories that many college football fans can share. But this time, the NCAA finally got something right. While I personally think that an eight team, three round playoff would produce the best result, few would argue that this new, four team, system is a head and shoulders improvement.

Teams finishing fifth and sixth in the new system may take exception to being left out of the dance, but not even that bridesmaid could argue that they should be #1 or #2. The college football season will allow more margins for an early season error, which often ends a team’s quest for a title in September. Finally, an exceptional team that was nipped in conference play, like the aforementioned 2011 Alabama team, can EARN its spot in a title game rather than receiving a handout on the strength on the program’s and the coach’s reputations.

I could beat up on the NCAA and college athletics for several shortcomings, especially rules governing the student-athletes. But even a broken clock is right twice per day. Getting rid of the BCS happened right on time. 
The NCAA powers must have signed off on the playoff system over dinner. 5

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