Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bye Week Thoughts: The BCS

I used to be a proponent of a playoff system, but now I have seen the light. The problem is, I may have seen it too late. And it's not because my Eagles are having a great season. More than anything, BC has survived close games and conference opponents. But the trick is that they made it through with the W. I did not realize everyone having a chance was a bad thing. So, to enemies of parity, I direct this post to you.

A playoff system would turn "2007: Year of the Upset" into "year where lots of upsets happened."

Why? I have a few complaints against destroying the #1/#2 thing. First and foremost: it would make sure a season like this never happened again.

So, logically, you have to think that an 8- or 12- or 16- team playoff (whatever is decided) HAS to include the champions of each respective conference. Sure, this would include the #1 and #2 teams in the country. Right? But lets look at teams currently still currently in mathematical first place (tie breaker losers are sitting down) in the big six conferences:

ACC: Boston College, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Big East: UConn
Big 12: Kansas, Oklahoma
Big Ten: Michigan, Ohio State
Pac 10: ASU
SEC: LSU, Alabama, Kentucky

For what it's worth, ASU still has yet to play ANY of the one-loss teams in the Pac-10. So, USC, who lost to cellar dweller Stanford, could probably still even be considered a front runner. Same goes for Cal. And the Big East shouldn't really count because they've only had 10 games between the seven teams. I'd likely give the advantage/tiebreaker to Rutgers.

Even still, here's my point: USC, Michigan would be contenders for the national championship in a playoff system. That makes sense.

And how do you fill out the other spots? Someone would get left home. I could easily see it being either Oregon or ASU or Kansas. There's only room for two more, and if you have teams coming in from well outside the top 15, a team with a solid resume gets hurt for being in a good conference. Imagine if LSU has two losses this season, both to Kentucky, but had to sit home out of a playoff because Arizona State's loss in Los Angeles kept them more appealing.

If we think separating the second best team in the country from the third is difficult, how much smaller is the margin between six and seven?

So, that's reason one, that teams will get title shots who don't deserve one while contenders sit on the couch. You are telling me that this would be an exciting playoff system?

So, that's logical reason. Here's the emotional reason: the David and Goliath Factor.

No matter how bad Stanford finishes this season, those players will have a badge of pride over their win at USC. Appa State, even if it is on its way to another National Championship in I-AA, will be recognized for the win over Michigan. Why? Because they took the wind out of the sails of those teams and knocked them down a peg. They ruined seasons and championship dreams.

In the playoff system, those are just surprising upsets.

Let's put it in terms of some BC History. The 1994 Notre Dame team still would have made the playoffs that year. They still could (and likely would) have won those games and a championship. Do you think Boston College fans would be as nearly as nostalgic about a game 15 years later if Notre Dame could still say they got the championship that year anyway?

The chance to make a dent in a rival's (or non-rival, for that matter) season is a driving force in the underdog special. No one cares about regular season upsets in the NFL. The playoffs render most Sunday match-ups as passing interest, and I would argue that fantasy sports drive a lot of interest in games not featuring a fan's favorite team. As it stands right now, every Saturday matters. Every Saturday is one round of the season-long playoff to be the last team standing.

Why take that away?

Here's my final point, and this is the passionate argument: people only want the change now because they don't like seeing the current top ten. The old guard is getting invaded and they never want to think for a second that Boston College, Kentucky or South Florida deserves a chance for the national championship.

Hey, if you can't regain the glory days through billion dollar facilities and 70,000-strong Spring Games, why not change the rules? Sorry that the 40,000 who fill up Wake Forest every week aren't worthy of your BCS pinnacle, but you guys built the system to showcase your Alabama vs. Nebraska, USC vs. Michigan and Florida State vs. Penn State.

I would like to apologize, personally, that the dozens of millions of fans from the other 100 schools in division I-A think we deserve a chance to win it the same way you did.

Oh, and firing Bill Callahan will really help.

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