Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead! 

...Or soon will be, one can hope.

The Associated Press will remove its poll from the college football BCS formula.

The Bowl Championship Series was a "worst of both worlds" compromise between a playoff system and the older bowl arrangements. It overturned many decades of Bowl traditions without being able to produce an undisputed national champion. Last year, USC was the team on the outside looking in, this year it's Auburn. The BCS is simply unable to handle three or more teams with legitamite rights to fight for the number one spot.

Other BCS headaches and insults to college football tradition include:

1.) A title game that will be played on January 4!

In the American sporting calendar, some events are forever tied to specific dates in the minds of fans. The Indy 500 is always the Sunday before Memorial day, The US Tennis Open is played the fortnight around Labor Day. Until a few years ago, sports fans could always count on an overdose of bowl games to ring in the first day of the new year. Now, the top BCS games are scattered over four days.

2.) The bastardization of the Rose Bowl.

The Granddaddy of Them All®, the Rose Bowl was the original bowl game, named after the stadium where the game is played. It came into being as an extension of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, itself held on New Year's morning. Thanks to the BCS, many times the Rose Bowl game is held after January 1st, cutting off the game from its creator. The BCS hasn't had the balls to suggest the Rose Parade date be moved, yet.

If that isn't enough, the BCS wrecked the old Rose Bowl format, which had the PAC-10 Conference champion play the Big 10 Conference champion. "So what?" you may ask. It is noted that Pasadena takes its traditions seriously, and there are many who aren't happy:

"It sort of turns the Rose Bowl into a consolation prize,' said Councilman Steve Haderlein, a committed BCS hater. "Personally, I think it is a flawed system and I think it stinks.'

"Anytime it is not the Pac-10 and the Big Ten it's not the same,' said Rose Bowl General Manager Darryl Dunn.

It's about dollars and cents as well as tradition. Many would be more comfortable with a Midwestern Big 10 school; for whose fans travelling to Pasadena is part of routine and tradition. Local businesses can't be as certain how boosters from non-traditional schools (this year, Texas) will affect coffers. The same scenario is playing out at other established bowls, an example being USC vs Iowa in the 2003 Orange Bowl, a game neither teams' fans had any history with; under the old system the two teams would have played each other in the Rose Bowl!

3.) Someone always gets left out.

The BCS is about television and money. There are four major bowl games, one national championship, and a lot of teams looking to get a payday and the Big Stage. In addition to the case of Auburn mentioned above, Cal isn't going to be singing the praises of the BCS anytime soon. Cal was dropped from the Rose Bowl when the Coaches' Poll moved the school from number four spot to number five, dispite Cal winning its last game (ironically, under the old system, USC would get Cal's Rose Bowl berth anyway). The change in polls allowed Texas to sneak into number four and get the Rose Bowl ticket.

When a school goes to a bowl game, all the schools in that particular conference get a cut of the bowl money. Of course, I can't say that coaches are making votes based on the incoming amount of bowl money. Howver, the coaches' poll votes aren't made public; it would assist the integrity of the process if the votes were known, as has been suggested.

The bottom line is the BCS is a bad system, and the AP pulling its poll from it may be the excuse needed to scrap it. I understand the reason for its existence: the push of retaining bowl games that are the foundation of college football, and the pull of having a clear championship that will increase television viewership and advertising revenue. Howerever, I don't see a way in which the two can co-exist: I say either go back to the old system of bowls or have a Final Four-style playoff using the existing major bowl sites.

Perhaps more knowledegable people out there can come up with a better solution. All I know is I'm not excited about waiting until January 4th to see a championship, which may or may not be disputed.

Yeah. My brother and my dad are both huge Cal fans. I've been hearing some bitching on the BCS, but apparently, angry though they are, they expect the BCS will survive.
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