Three Yahoo columnists, Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter and Jeff Passan, have written a book, out last week, titled "Death to the BCS."
I freely admit I have not yet read this book, yet without knowing its contents I can say definitively that I agree with its title, its premise and everything inside it.
The first BCS rankings were released yesterday, and, naturally, there's controversy. I suppose that's good for feeding the beast -- nothing creates interest in something like controversy -- but is it really good for college football when a significant chunk of its followers want to get rid of the "approved" method for crowning a champion, and influential writers want it "dead"?
It was the proverbial "conventional wisdom" a week ago that when these rankings were released yesterday, Boise State would be on top. Not so fast! Boise State probably would have been on top, except that Ohio State got beat, and badly, by Wisconsin.
And you're saying, "Wait. That doesn't make any sense." And you'd be 100% correct in saying that. In getting blown out by Wisconsin, Ohio State dropped from No. 1 in the to No. 10 in the coaches poll and No. 11 in the AP poll, which has them ranked at No. 10 in the BCS standings despite rankings of 14, 16, 14, 13, 21, 14 and 14 by the various computer rankings the BCS uses.
Confused? Wait, let me confuse you even more. Here are the top three schools in the BCS rankings, and their rankings in the Harris poll, AP poll, and average computer ranking respectively:
1. Oklahoma (4th, 3rd, 1st)
2. Oregon (1st, 1st, 8th)
3. Boise State (2nd, 2nd, 7th)
Now on what planet would that make the rankings in that order? I can tell you what planet; it's the World Of Making Sure Boise State Doesn't Crash Our Little Party.
The Big School Powers That Be, you see, seem determined to keep Boise State, a "mid-major" that's done nothing but win, win and win, out of its championship game. The same goes for TCU, a similar school that's currently ranked fifth in the BCS derby, despite getting No. 1 votes in the AP and coaches poll and ranking higher than Oregon in all but one of the six computer rankings used. And this isn't even considering the fact that each of the computer rankers can pretty much make up his own way of rating the teams. What did the BCS do to Boise State and TCU last year when both of them completed their regular seasons unbeaten? Why, of course: make them play each other in the Fiesta Bowl, so that one of them would wind up with one loss.
I'll freely admit something else: I'm a big Boise State fan. I've never lived in Idaho and I didn't go to school there; my fandom comes from my attendance at the amazing 2007 Fiesta Bowl, where Boise State blew a 28-10 lead and went behind with only a minute to play, then tied the game on a trick play with seven seconds left in regulation and won on another trick play in overtime after Oklahoma had taken the lead. It's widely considered to be the greatest college football game ever played.
Now think about how much more legendary such a game would now be if it had been the national championship game, or a semifinal, or any part of a playoff structure.
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with ranking teams. People do it all the time, argue about it, make bets (presumably, legal) on it, and in NCAA basketball circles, they are used as a guide to make selections to March Madness -- which is generally considered to be one of the best spectacles in sports.
Imagine, then, if we had December Madness, or January Madness, or Holiday Hijinks, or whatever you want to call it -- 16 college football schools in a playoff. You'd still have to have a basis for selecting them, and the rankings could be a guide of sorts. You'd need eight preliminary round games -- use some of the existing pre-New Year's Day bowls for those. Then, on New Year's Day, four "major" bowls -- Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange, all in premier holiday destination areas -- would be the quarterfinal sites. Each of those winners wouldn't just win that bowl, they'd win the right to go on to the semis, which would take place on a January Saturday that's at least seven days after New Year's (in other words, you wouldn't do it on Jan. 2 if New Year's fell on a Friday). Or, if that would interfere with NFL early-round playoff games on a Saturday, do them as a Monday night doubleheader, then play the championship game the following Monday night. The three semifinal and final sites could be bid on as the NCAA basketball regional finals and finals are, or as the Super Bowl is. And just imagine further what kind of money the TV rights for all this would go for -- far more than the BCS now gets.
And the "lesser" bowls could still be played, earlier in December -- if the NCAA and the bowl sponsors still want to stage a bunch of games between 7-5 and 6-6 teams.
There are, eight weeks into the college football season, ten unbeaten teams: Oklahoma, Oregon, Boise State, TCU, Auburn, LSU, Michigan State, Utah, Oklahoma State and Missouri. I find myself rooting for all of them except Boise State to lose at least once; that way, I figure, the BCS will have to invite Boise State to the title game.
Unless they can figure out some other way to jury-rig the numbers. There has to be a better way. Death to the BCS.