Monday, October 22, 2007

An Incorrigible Truth

College football is in its mid season form, once again, and it began last week with the inaugural Bowl Championship Series rankings. As opposed to previous seasons when, say, eight of the top ten teams were the usual suspects fans were accustomed to seeing at the top (from Miami to Oklahoma to Southern California), this year's rankings are a bit different. As of Monday, October 22nd, Boston College is number two behind Ohio State, this being the Jesuit school's first crack into the top five of the BCS rankings. Just last week, South Florida (USF) was sitting pretty at number two before committing the most unforgivable sin an up-and-coming, no-name program can commit in college football: they lost at Rutgers, currently ranked twenty-five in the AP poll.

You see, that's what college football is about. Polls and perfection. You can't get enough of the former, and only the prestige, on a good year, attain the latter. Of course USF was due a loss this year, and no less to Rutgers, whose Ray Rice is like an Acela train that will soon be playing Sunday football in autumn. Some polls have USF out of the top ten, and others graciously allowed them to remain, while further narrowing their margin of error. Will USF play for a BCS title? Probably not, and, in the words of Run DMC, that's just the way it is.

College football is a money-maker and wants to be entertaining as hell, and it is. If you watched Auburn at LSU last Saturday night, you know you watched a classic, comparable to Colorado at Michigan over a decade ago. Still, NCAA's appetite for the dollar, and the schools' presidents collective appetite for such, often trumps what's just. In a just world, USF would have a shot at the BCS title, not hope for the stars to realign themselves again. In other words, we'd have a playoff system.

How un-American is it that if Boston College loses in Blacksburg to Virginia Tech, currently number eight in the BCS poll, they are absolutely out of the running? This is so because a flurry of teams will jump them just based on simple mathematics, let alone the punishment the writers, coaches and computers will dole out for BC committing that ungodly sin. Not that losing should be awarded, but if Florida can be forgiven for losing to Auburn, in Auburn, last year, and given a second chance, why not BC? There is no logical answer to that question, because there is no logical explanation for the BCS.

NCAA basketball has a simple 64-team, one game elimination tournament. Often times, debate may rage over who got in and who was stiffed, but at the end of three weeks of high caliber basketball, we all agree on the champion.

Exactly what does the winner of the Gator bowl tell us? Outside of the generous windfall, what are we to make of the Pac-10/Big-10 team that wins the Rose Bowl (loser also receives generous windfall)? Okay, so BCS #1 versus BCS #2 will give us the national championship. But what if BCS #4 beats BCS #3 by 30-plus? Is that supposed to be like that third place game they always have in international soccer tournaments?

In a season where a top four team has lost for four consecutive weeks now, it's getting awefully difficult to sort out the shoulds and shouldn'ts. Florida has two losses, yet no one can argue that there is no light at the end of their tunnel. Michigan, a truly sad story next to Notre Dame, can possibly win every Big-10 game, and still go to the Rose Bowl. Exactly how may "quality" wins would they have compared to USF, or Kentucky, assuming they win the remainder of their games. Changes ought to be made to create a system in which the players and coaches select the champion, i.e., by playing it out. No lobbying for poll position, no random drops or surges in polls, and no exclusion.

Then again, if you're the Ohio States of the world, why stop a good thing?

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