The BCS has screwed it up again. It's outrageous!
To save time, I wrote that lead before the bowl selections were announced Sunday night.
I'm kidding, of course. It didn't save me any time. I have a script that opens a new document and types those words with a single keystroke. If not for that, I'd be out with repetitive stress injuries every year at this time.
Florida is the outrage. The Gators are the answer to the question, "Which more-or-less randomly selected one-loss team gets to play Ohio State in the National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 8?" If Michigan had been the answer, the Wolverines would have been the outrage. There were also various and sundry other outrages down the BCS standings.
Florida leapfrogged Michigan for the No. 2 spot, which is no wonder. Michigan hasn't even won a game since Nov. 11, the layabouts. All they've done is lose by three points to the undefeated No. 1 team in the nation and then sit around. While they were doing that, first USC passed them by beating Notre Dame -- something Michigan made the mistake of doing in September -- and now Florida has done it.
The Gators were busy, clubbing 1-AA Western Carolina 62-0 while Michigan was messing around with Ohio State, and then getting past Florida State and Arkansas, a couple of solid if not dominating wins.
Clearly, the way to the National Championship Game is to keep playing games after the other guys are done, provided you win them, which is where Western Carolina can come in handy. That gives the voters, who probably haven't seen your team except on highlights all year, a chance to check you out.
So if you're a Florida fan you think the right team's in the title game. If you're a Michigan fan you think the wrong team's in the title game. If you're anybody else, you're probably banging your head on a wall somewhere. Or at least it feels like it.
For the record -- because I know there's a record around here someplace -- I think Florida is a better choice than Michigan, even though I suspect Michigan is the better team.
If only there were some way to figure out who's better, Michigan or Florida!
I think Florida's the right choice -- to use that phrase loosely -- because at least the Gators won their conference. So what? I'll tell you what. Sit back down. If you let a team go directly from losing its conference to the championship game, why have conferences?
At-dat-dat-dat-dat! Sit down! Let me finish. I know you're going to talk about ease of regular-season scheduling, continuity in rivalries, tradition, geography. But conferences count for more than that in the BCS. Finishing second in the Big Ten doesn't disqualify Michigan from the title game, so why should finishing third in the Big Ten disqualify Wisconsin -- ranked seventh in the BCS -- from being one of the 10 teams in a BCS bowl?
The answer is money, of course. It's a trick question. The answer to every question in college football is the one thing the most important people, the players, can't legally touch. Money. The BCS was created not to crown a champion but to funnel income to the six conferences that created it. But not too much to any one conference. A cartel is always a delicate balance of interests.
I'm also not interested in seeing a rematch of the Ohio State-Michigan game that was just played on Nov. 18.
Sit! Down! I'll clear this room if I have to say that again!
Rematches happen in your precious NCAA basketball Tournament all the time, you're about to say. They happen all over the place in the NFL playoffs, not to mention the NBA, NHL and major league baseball postseasons. Rematches are fine except in the college football championship?
The BCS is an attempt to pick two teams from the multitudes of contenders, most of whom couldn't play each other if they wanted to, and they don't want to. Among the 10 BCS teams this year, there were exactly four head-to-head games: Ohio State-Michigan, Florida-LSU, Notre Dame-Michigan and Notre Dame-USC. Four of the 10 teams -- Boise State, Oklahoma, Wake Forest and Louisville -- played no games against fellow BCSers.
And you want to give Michigan a second crack at Ohio State?
Sit down. The answer's no.
To give you an idea how absurd this lack of head-to-head competition is, NFL teams have played 12 games each, the length of the college season. Among the 12 teams that would make the playoffs if the season were over, there have been 24 head-to-head games.
All of the current playoff teams have played at least two games against fellow playoff teams. The Cincinnati Bengals have played six games, half their schedule, against playoff teams. It's OK to give someone a second chance because lots of teams get them. And that's before the playoffs even start. Don't forget the teams that get to the Super Bowl get there by beating other Super Bowl contenders in the playoffs.
If only there were some way to get more than two of the NCAA contenders together on the same field!
I know I'm preaching to the choir here because just about everybody is the choir. The BCS is the worst, most fan-unfriendly method of crowning a champion in all of sports, and I'm counting boxing, which 10 years ago I would have called beyond absurd. That was before the BCS.
There are a lot of reasons why a team might find itself in the title game, and almost none of them have anything to do with football. Florida's strength of schedule? Auburn is wondering where that argument was two years ago. Both teams shouldn't be from the same conference? Michigan would like to know what page that rule is written on. And so on.
The coaches -- who if honest will admit they vote blind, having no time to watch the games of teams their squad won't play -- jumped Florida over Michigan in the final poll because they knew there'd be hell to pay if a team from the SEC, the most powerful conference, got screwed out of the title game twice in three years.
The BCS works perfectly as long as there are two and only two obvious teams who deserve to go to the Championship Game. Any other time, which is most years, there are several teams with a claim to one or both spots, and the BCS fails miserably. And then the powers that be, hilariously, get together in the off-season to tweak the system to fix the specific problem that came up, Whack-a-Mole style, that year. So that's something to look forward to this spring.
This annual off-season tweaking is sort of like if the Keystone Kops had held a rules session after every movie. "From now on," they might have resolved, "we don't park the squad car on the train tracks with 15 officers in it and a train coming."
That might have been a good rule, but they'd still have been the Keystone Kops.
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