Quick Thoughts – What if other sports employed the BCS?

While Alabama watched football all day, Oklahoma State went out and won a conference championship. And will still likely be left sitting at home when the BCS Championship rolls around...

I have always been very careful in my usage of the word hate.  When I use the word (and mean it) what I am saying is that I think something is so awful, egregious, horrible, etc. that society has a whole would be better off without it.   With that understanding let me whisper to you four little words:

I HATE THE BCS.

Those who know me, know that I have long been in opposition of the Bowl Championship Series rankings.  While every other level of NCAA successfully implements a postseason playoff (ranging from 20-32 teams), Division I FBS schools have not been able to manage a 4-8 team playoff that would satisfy most fans.   Instead of having a playoff, the NCAA and BCS have decided to use systematic demarcation to determine it’s national champion.  Why in the country where democracy and meritocracy were born would our nation’s most beloved sport defer to institutionalized discrimination to determine a champion?  For the same reason our country has ever allowed any form of systematic discrimination to be put in place – to make a profit.

The BCS is all about commercialism and money.  It cares nothing for the sport or who the best team in the country is but instead it cares about the bottom line and what teams will give them the best television ratings.  In a country where all are supposed to be equal, the BCS mercilessly stomps on the dogma of Horatio Alger and reminds young athletes that the “American dream” and “rags to riches” are nothing more than a pipe dream that can never be realized if you don’t belong to the right class (in this case, the six AQ conferences – specifically the SEC).

The BCS not only encourages the Floridas, LSUs, Alabamas, Ohio States, USCs, Oklahomas, and UTs to push the Houstons, Boise States, and TCUs to the back of the bus – it enforces it.

It has created system of computerized expectation that takes away the magic and unpredictability of sport.  When teams from football’s lower class do make a strong case that cannot be ignored (such as TCU and Boise State back in 2009) the BCS puts them in their own “separate but equal” bowl so that they too can be a winner, just not THE winner.  These computers have taken away the excitement of the postseason.

If NCAA Basketball used the BCS System we would’ve never heard of  Butler, VCU, George Mason, Gonzaga, or UNI.

If the NFL employed this system –  Cowher would steal be searching for his title, Eli would’ve never had a shot to prevent Brady’s perfection,  Warner would’ve never gotten a 3rd shot at a ring, and Vince Lombardi  Trophy Winner would not be listed on Aaron Rodger’s resume.

If the NBA used the BCS teams like Orlando and Dallas would’ve never made the NBA Finals.

If Major League Baseball employed the BCS, Texas would be without any World Series appearances and San Francisco and St. Louis would not have been celebrating these past two years.

Sports history would be dramatically different (and rather uninspired) if computerized expectations were used to determine championship match-ups.  Yet the NCAA insists on forcing this system upon the fans.

It’s a story as old as time itself, the haves versus the have-nots.  Tonight the BCS will decide that Alabama, a team that spent yesterday sitting on the couch watching college football (Hey! I did that too! Can I have a BCS title shot?) is worthy of a national championship appearance.  Not because they played better teams or won their conference (Oklahoma State beat the same number of ranked teams as Alabama and 1 more bowl-eligible team than Alabama in route to winning the Big 12 Championship outright) but because they belong to a certain class that is worthy of an appearance in this game.   It’s about elitism and pedigree over results and resume.  It won’t make sense to us that the #1 team in the country had to win a game yesterday to qualify and the #2 team did not but the BCS does not care about fairness or what makes sense.  The BCS is not as much concerned with who they crown champion, they are more concerned about making sure certain schools do not have a chance to be crowned.  For these reasons,  the BCS will most likely select Alabama over Oklahoma State.

And when this happens, we will be reminded that in this country we have a system of institutionalized discrimination driven by the search for larger profit margins of which the Southeastern United States is the primary beneficiary.  Sound familiar?

Now to be fair and make myself perfectly clear – when it is announced that the title game will be Alabama vs. LSU, the athletic governing body of our institutions of higher learning will not be asking the birthplace of democracy to accept systematic discrimination.

They will be asking us to embrace it.

Who’s Number 2? The Argument for Virginia Tech

When it comes to #2, why is nobody talking about Virginia Tech?

There is not a doubt in my mind that LSU is the best team in the country.  Not only have they gone undefeated (thus far) in the nation’s toughest conference (make that division) but they did it in style.  They went on the road and won an ugly game against the #2 team in the nation at the time in Alabama.  They destroyed #3 Arkansas.  And let’s not forget they had an impressive opening week win against Pac-12 Champion Oregon.   There is no doubt that should LSU beat Georgia tonight (which I expect they will do by at least 17 points) they will be going to the BCS National Championship.

The question is clearly not – who is #1, but instead it’s who is #2?

Just a month ago there were so many questions as to who would play the SEC Champion in the BCS National Championship game – would it be undefeated Oklahoma State?  How about golden boy Andrew Luck and his Stanford Cardinal?  Maybe the resurgent Russell Wilson and the Wisconsin Badgers?  Surprise team Clemson?  Or maybe, just maybe, Boise State would get their shot.

But now as we head in to championship weekend, the case for #2 is unclear.  While FCS, Division II, and Division III use a playoff to determine who should be the national champion, the BCS has failed us once again due to a plethora of one-loss teams.   The BCS focuses on what should happen and what will happen as opposed to what does happen and takes all the magic out of sport.  Can you imagine if NCAA Basketball used a BCS-type system?   Would we have ever heard of the Butler Bulldogs, VCU Rams, or George Mason?

But the BCS system is what we have and the question remains – who should be #2?

A lot of people believe that Alabama should play LSU for the national title – I STRONGLY disagree.   Alabama already had their crack at LSU.  They had them at home and lost a game which ultimately proved nothing except that LSU’s kicker is marginally better than Alabama’s kicker-by-committee.   If we had a playoff system I would have no problem with two teams from the same conference playing for a national championship.  But we don’t – the whole season is a playoff.   Alabama did not win their division, did not win their conference, and will be sitting at home this weekend.  The nation’s best country had to beat the Pac-12 champion, the #2 team in the country on the road, and these last two weeks had to face the #3 team in the nation, and now goes to face the SEC East Champion.  LSU has to win to make the national title game.  It seems that Alabama doesn’t have to do anything at all.  It makes no sense.  If the whole season is a playoff, Alabama has already been eliminated.

I would love to see Stanford play for a national title and watch what Andrew Luck can do against an SEC defense.  I would love to see Boise State finally get their shot.   My argument for them is the same as Alabama – they had their chance and they blew it.  They did not win their conference and they did not win their division.  And in a system where the season is the playoff, I just cannot justify sending someone to a national championship game that does not win their conference.   The Big Ten has eliminated themselves on a strange series of last-minute heroics that leaves Wisconsin with two more losses than they should have.   If Oklahoma defeats Oklahoma State like I believe they will, that will also leave 2-loss teams in the Big 12.  Kellen Moore and Boise State once again lost a conference match-up they could not afford to lose on a last second field goal.  If not for a loss to TCU, the Broncos would probably be getting the title shot they have been clamoring for all these years.  Houston provides intrigue and has a great QB in Case Keenum but unfortunately their undefeated season will not get them to the BCS title game.  Conference USA took a big step backwards this year which in the computer’s eyes makes a very impressive Houston team look rather lackluster.  Don’t even get me started on the Big East –  the Mountain West and Conference USA are more deserving of being an AQ conference than the Big East.

That leaves the ACC – wait a second what about the ACC?

Do they boast a team that should be considered #2?

Clemson started off the season fast beating #21 Auburn, #11 Florida State, and #11 Virginia Tech but quickly showed their colors with a string of three losses in four weeks – two of which were unranked teams.  Today they will be playing against the Virginia Tech Hokies for the ACC title.  The Hokies are a program that has really blossomed over the past decade and made a number of BCS bowl game berths.

This season Virginia Tech has only one loss on their resume.  But since they won their division they will have the opportunity to avenge that loss against Clemson tonight.  They have won 7 straight games since that early season loss.

They have the seventh ranked defense in the country and additionally, Virginia Tech has played the same number of opponents that Alabama has with 8 wins or more.  Overall, Virginia Tech has played more bowl-eligible teams than Alabama.   And a win tonight would have them sitting with only one loss (that they avenged) and as division champions and conference champions of an AQ conference.

But the media meanwhile is not even talking about the Hokies but instead expects us to believe that the Crimson Tide can beat the Bayou Bengals in Louisiana in January when they could not beat them in Tuscaloosa in November.

Of the top 5 teams in the BCS Rankings at this moment, only 3 of them are playing for a conference title.  Two teams ranked ahead of Virginia Tech didn’t even win their division.  If tonight goes the way I believe it should then there is no reason why a one-loss team in Virginia Tech who has a conference championship in an AQ conference and avenged their sole season’s loss should be ranked behind a 2-loss Oklahoma State or a Stanford and Alabama team that could not win their division and did nothing this weekend to boost their resume.

If the #1 team in the country has to win this weekend to play for the national title, shouldn’t the same be expected of #2?

Why aren’t we talking about Virginia Tech?