Brad Causey
Brad Causey,
Editor and Publisher
R. Shannon Pollard
Kevin Sommers
David R. Wehry
James E. Foy
The Freedom Letter
The Mythical National Championship
As this is written, we have been in College Football bowl season for a couple of weeks. The last slot in the NFL playoffs has just been determined. NCAA football Division champions of IAA and Divisions II and III have been determined by playoffs. High school state championships have all been won, using a playoff system. In March we will have the NCAA basketball tournament where 65 teams will have the opportunity to win the tournament games and truly be called number one.
Division IA or "the bowl championship series" is the only sport that does not have playoffs to determine a champion. Since the late 1990's we have had the BCS. It stands for "Bowl Championship series" but is truly bravo sierra at its finest! This load of crap is supposed to tell us who the best two teams are at the end of the season. In its history, I would argue the BCS has never determined a real champion. Since the rules change every year, and it only applies to a minority of teams, it can never determine a real champion.
A brief history:
In the hundred years, or so, before the goofy BCS, occasionally two major conference teams would go undefeated and meet for the "national championship." Even in that rare circumstance, there was usually another team, of equal talent, that could argue that it was at least as good as the champion, except for a bad bounce, a bad call, or bad weather. It was (and remains) quite possible that multiple major college teams can end the year undefeated, but only one is given the mythical "national championship." Such was the lot of Penn State after the 1994 season and Auburn after the 2004 season. Actually this scenario happens almost every year to someone. All the years referred to below apply to the regular season, not the actual date of the bowl game.
1998: The University of Tennessee is awarded the mythical championship after defeating Florida State playing with a 3rd string quarterback. The Big Ten and Pac Ten Conference champions (also with one loss each) were not invited to play.
1999: Florida State (with a first string quarterback) goes undefeated and is awarded the mythical championship after defeating Michael Vick and the Hokies of Virginia Tech. Nebraska and Alabama win their respective conferences, but are not invited to play in the big game.
2000: Oklahoma is crowned champion after going undefeated and winning the Orange Bowl against Florida State. Washington and Miami end the season with only one loss. The same number of losses as Florida State.
2001: The University of Miami defeats Nebraska to win the BCS championship. Nebraska did not win its conference and had the same quantity of losses (going into the bowl game) as Illinois, Maryland and Oregon.
2002: Ohio State wins the Fiesta Bowl, in overtime, against Miami because of a controversial pass interference call on the last play of regulation. Georgia also ended the season with only one loss.
2003: LSU defeated Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl to win the BCS. (Do I need to remind you that LSU stands for Louisiana State University and the Sugar Bowl is played in New Orleans?) Oklahoma did not win its conference. USC ended the year with the same number of losses as LSU. (one)
2004: USC defeated Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl to be awarded the mythical championship. Auburn and Utah also ended the year undefeated.
2005: The system might have actually worked this year. Texas, led by Vince Young defeated USC and Matt Leinart in the Rose Bowl. Both teams were undefeated and conference champions going into the game. However, Penn State won its bowl game and ended the year with only one loss.
2006: Ohio State and Boise State (Idaho) go undefeated during the regular season. Louisville, Michigan and Florida had only one loss. Having two losses were LSU, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, USC and Wake Forest. Somehow Florida was pulled out of this hat and played Ohio State for the BCS championship. To the surprise of the national pundits, Florida won in convincing fashion by a score of 41 to 14.
This year there are no major conference teams that have not lost at least one game. So the computers and pollsters who make up the BCS have decided in their infinite wisdom that LSU and Ohio State should play one game to decide it all. LSU lost to conference opponents Kentucky and Arkansas in overtime. Ohio State lost, in regulation (at home), to conference opponent Illinois. How is it that any group of people and computers can possibly know who might be better than who on a particular day? Major college football is the only sport without a playoff to determine the real winner. Why? The reasons are many. Greed, respect for tradition, greed, stupidity, incompetence, hypocrisy and greed. Did I mention greed? There are no good reasons to continue the current non-system. Only bad ones.
Here is my solution. No system is perfect. The NFL playoffs or the NCAA basketball tournament have their flaws. But both are vastly better than the current BS, excuse me, BCS, that we have now. There are 117 Division 1A teams. There are 11 conferences. They consist of the Big 12, Big East, Conference USA, the ACC, the Big Ten (11 teams), the Mountain West, the Mid-American, the Pac 10, the Sun Belt, the Western Athletic and the SEC. Not all have an equal number of teams or even a consistent method of determining a conference champion. However, all do have a method. Using whatever method each conference decides on, we should have a playoff consisting of 16 teams. The eleven conference champions get automatic bids. The other 5 could be considered wild cards. We could determine these by number of losses, strength of schedule or some goofy combination of computers and polls. (sound familiar?) At least the teams would have a chance to determine their own fate by playing series of games. Just like the NFL, we could have seeding and first round byes. (I am not sure the first round bye system would work, but we could try it.) The playoffs could be played on home fields, just like the NFL, or we could use the existing bowl structure. (does it matter?) Reserve one spot for an independent if you like. Maybe we could make everybody join a conference. The first round would start the first weekend of December. After the first round we would have only 8 teams. After the second round, four. In the third week, we would have two survivors who would then play a real championship game in early January. If all the mediocre teams not making the playoffs want to meet and play a single game called a bowl, then they can. No one is watching now, no one will watch then either. My proposal is not perfect, but it is vastly better than what we have now. In my system, the national champion will be real, not mythical. Any better ideas out there?
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