I’m sure anybody who is a college football fan has, at this point, an opinion about the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). Mine is that the BCS is likened to the Magic Bullet Theory, the “Y2K” hysteria and the claim that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.
That is to say, it is total crap.
Since it has been put in place in 1998, Bill Hancock, the BCS executive director, has been addressed with questions about alternatives to the BCS, the most popular being a playoff. Recently Hancock took the liberty of writing a commentary as to why a playoff system doesn’t function as well as the current system in place.
He makes four arguments as to how a playoff is more complicated or less effective than the current system. I will take the liberty of explaining to you why each of them are not true:
“First,” Hancock says, “playoffs diminish the regular season. The interest of fans, sponsors and others is redirected into the playoff. Now, from August to December, fans nationwide shift their attention from game to game and conference to conference weekly, as teams move up and down the ladder toward the title game. Why would we want to dilute that?”
Let me get this straight, chief. You’re saying that if there was a playoff, the fans and media wouldn’t care about what happens during the regular season? Wouldn’t that determine who would be chosen for the playoff in the first place? As if the participants of any other national championship tournament are chosen by picking random pieces of paper with names of different schools out of a hat!
Also, why wouldn’t fans continue to look game to game and conference to conference, considering they could use the same sideways, goofball math system to find out if their team is in the race from week to week? Or maybe it’s just a hidden way of saying the interest of sponsors is changed because they can’t heap millions and millions of dollars into a bowl game with their name plastered on it.
Oh, right. God forbid a playoff stands in the way of South Carolina vs. Ball State in the Viagra Bowl! (Think about it. If you have to, take a second and look it up…come on, don’t tell me you don’t think that scenario is funny!)
“Second, playoffs burden the fans. It’s unrealistic to ask thousands of college students and fans to travel to faraway places week after week, to follow their teams through a playoff.”
Right! How thoughtless of us! It’s not like Division I-AA — or, excuse me, the “Football Championship Subdivision” — Division II, and Division III football fans have to do that, or basketball fans every spring, or baseball fans every summer.
Oh, wait! They DO!
It’s bad enough there is enough evidence this has been going on for decades, but did Hancock have to go and just slap every other national championship tournament in the face just to belabor a point that he ultimately can’t prove? (By the way, isn’t it ironic the Division I subdivision that has a playoff is actually called the championship subdivision?)
“Third, a playoff would fuel even more controversy, as more teams with similar records are left out. Think it’s tough picking the top two? Try selecting eight or sixteen. This would guarantee additional pressure to expand brackets to uncontrollable levels.”
Now wait a second. Your little computer ranking system spits out 25 names each week, right, Bill? So certainly it must have some difficulty generating a top eight or 10 out of those 25. My, that must be just EXHAUSTING! (Truth is, the updated top 10 are announced every Sunday during the regular season.)
Besides, you’re right, Bill. I just can’t see myself picking between Navy and Central Michigan as to who should get that 32nd invitiation to the playoff tournament!
“Fourth, the vast majority of college athletes will succeed in life because of their classroom — not football — performance. These are college students, not NFL pros.”
You sure Charlie Weis would agree with that, Bob? You mean to tell me that he lost out on his head coaching job at Notre Dame, not because his team wasn’t winning enough games and wasn’t in the National Championship race, but because Notre Dame wasn’t one of the strictest academic institutions in the country?!
Furthermore, what about the institutions in the Ivy League that don’t participate in annual playoffs because of their emphasis on academics? If we used those schools as examples, one might be led to believe that statement was true. But then again, when was the last time you saw Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth or Stanford holding a national championship trophy? (Here’s a hint, Bill: Princeton, 1935.)
And for the record, what the hell does that statement have to do with anything? That definitely isn’t backed up the hundreds of boosters backing Division I programs across the country, dozens of recruiting and academic scandals every year and ever-growing average salary for coaches, now is it? Schools aren’t paying top dollar for coaches to teach algebra. They’re paying to win!
The bottom line here is, what Hancock won’t tell you is that he’s fine with the system the way it is because sponsors are able to put up millions of dollars and schools generate higher revenues. National television contracts sweeten the pot and the system is perpetuated on the backs of free labor because although the players are the only ones playing, they’re the only ones in the equation not getting paid. And Bill’s cool with that because as far as he’s concerned, as long as the money is flowing in, the system is winning.
It’s just the fans and the perennial neglected deserving teams that lose every year.
Now that really is crap.