On the BCS, Part I

Posted by: Avinash on Wednesday, December 5th, 2007


Oh, I forgot about the actual BCS, didn’t I?

Despite all my gripes about a playoff system, it does nothing to alleviate the loathing I have for the BCS. This system is utter douchebaggery at its finest, an arrogant tool that tinkers and fixes itself on a yearly basis, only to create more substantial fuckups every year (this year’s recipient: Missouri). The BCS has done nothing but find more ways to make people laugh at its hideous attempt to crown a national champion, whatever that means.

There are only a few scenarios that can happen in this mythic #1 vs #2 matchup.

The two sole undefeated teams square off. The ultimate dream of the BCS. This has occurred a few times, and the resulting title game is usually fantastic because there are no gripes about who’s deservable. However, it’s likely that any such system would have that mechanism in place.

Example: Texas 41, USC 38 in 2005; Ohio State 31, Miami 24 in 2002; FSU 46, Virginia Tech 29 in 1999. Two great games and one fairly entertaining one. Always the scenario you root for if you want a compelling championship.

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More than two undefeated teams. Someone gets the shaft. This is where the Plus-One system makes the most sense for the odd man out, although it’d be difficult to figure out which two of the three would have to face off against one another in the original bowl. The one example is not promising of what the title game would provide.

: 2004, with Auburn, Oklahoma and USC (Utah too, but they beat arguably the worst BCS qualifier ever in Pitt). Mike Stoops already has past experience with groveling (see below), and despite getting soundly beaten in the previous title game, everyone’s riding the Jason White bandwagon. USC pummels Oklahoma into the ground and the Sooners just keep on losing bowl games. Auburn quietly takes down Virginia Tech 16-13, but sixteen is sixty in Tommy Tuberville football.

An undefeated team facing a one-loss opponent. The scenario that gets under everyone’s skin. Which one-loss team do you put in there? Either an undeserving team gets put in and gets smashed, or a team backdoors its way via the help of upsets.

Example: 1998–Tennessee wins a chippy matchup against the Seminoles. Tomahawk chop this, FSU. Good game.
2000–FSU gets the nod over a Miami team that beat them, AND a Washington team that beat them. In a title game that only rednecks and hicktards cared about, Oklahoma slumbers over FSU 13-2.
2001–Nebraska goes to Boulder and loses by 26. Nebraska gets into the BCS title game by a smidgen because heartland voters just keep on pouring the Big 12 corn bread and gravy. Oregon proceeds to rout Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl and Miami stomps over Nebraska. Big 12 does not look so good anymore.
2006–Ohio State and Michigan play in the regular season game of the decade and then take six weeks off; Florida backs into the title after Karl Dorrell decides to play coach. I’m sure the Gators love their title, but this was far from an ideal scenario for a national title.

One loss team versus one loss. Not enough samples to really judge the merit of this game, although again this seems like a good place to have Plus-One in place.

Example: 2003–Oklahoma, LSU. Thanks to more groveling from Mike Stoops, after getting bombed out of the Big 12 title game, Oklahoma gets back to the BCS title game only to get smacked around–Geaux Tigers! USC thumps Michigan. USC and LSU both get their shares and the SEC/Pac-10 homerism wars commence.

A multi-loss team in the title game. Utter fucking madness. Likely similar to one loss versus one loss, but this is our first test case.

Example: 2007–Ground zero. Mike Stoops does not quite grovel his way into the title mix after losing to Texas Tech and Colorado. Virginia Tech gets jumped by LSU after people seem to remember 48-7. West Virginia and Missouri, South Florida and Boston College, Cal and USC, Oregon and Kansas all get to at least #2 and then fold the cards.

There’s more. Hawaii manages to come back from 21 down against the last place team in the Pac-10 to ensure an undefeated season. Georgia looked like the most fearsome team coming home starting with their dog pounding of the Gators, but they got stomped early on by the Vols, who got stomped on by Alabama, who were knocked cold by…Louisiana Monroe. Finally, Ohio State and LSU choke away crucial games at home IN NOVEMBER–and they are playing for the title. Yeah, I don’t see a loser among them.

My point on the BCS? Sometimes the situation dictates whether there’s a legitimate national contender. This year you could argue as many as ten teams deserve that shot, but all ten teams screwed up at some point. Well, except for Hawaii and their last place strength of schedule. So no matter who wins January 8, they probably lose too, since they’ll be earning the dubious distinction of “Worst BCS Champion Ever.”

So who are the winners? You, the fans, of course. Just relish in the regular season and avoid the pratfalls and arguments that come with crowning a champ. Because unless it’s your team that gets hosed, there isn’t much indignation you can really bring to the table. Just hope for more USC-Texas’s and less Ohio State-Florida’s. Though this year it could very well be the latter.

Provide your thoughts on the title game in the comments.

Next: The Second Law of Thermodynamics.

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