Decide the champion on fields, please
With all due respect to my colleagues in sports writing, I’m not sure I trust our collective wisdom.
Locally, late last year my peers and I in the Vermont Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association took two tries to elect record-setting Middlebury College quarterback Donald McKillop as our athlete of the month. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t lost the first vote to Norwich’s quarterback, whose passing numbers for the month of November were something like 13-for-37, stats that would amount to one off day for McKillop. To be fair, the other guy did run well and led the Cadets to a solid season, but still, McKillop was an all-New England pick.
And on a national level there was the annual embarrassing Baseball Hall of Fame vote. This month Roberto Alomar, one of the five best second basemen ever to trot out on a diamond, somehow was not deemed worthy of election by more than 25 percent of the voters. The voters are, that’s right, sports writers. Those who didn’t vote for Alomar deserves to have their voting rights revoked.
And the fact that sports writers help choose the top two teams that play for the title is just one problem with the “Bowl Championship Series” (BCS) that decides the national champion of the highest level of college football.
You’ve got morons like those who don’t think Alomar belongs in the hall deciding which teams are better on paper, when if there is nothing else that sports has taught even the casual fan is that no one really knows who is going to win a game. (Unless Texas quarterback Colt McCoy is injured during the fifth play of the BCS final and Alabama gets a free pass, of course.)
Then again, the football polls rely on coaches’ ballots, too. Great, they all get to vote for each other.
Yeah, yeah, I know, the BCS also uses computers to determine its participants. But computers use programs written by people, and they can’t predict how many interceptions the Boise State secondary will snag. The only way to determine a champion is on the field, with a playoff system.
You know, just like the one the NCAA uses to determine the NCAA Division II and III champions. Somehow those student-athletes manage to complete their coursework. How tough is a communications major for most BCS football players, anyway?
No, the real obstacle is that people, mostly with matching bowl game blazers, are making money in the existing bowl and league championship game structure.
What they fail to realize is that they’re probably leaving a lot more money on the table.
Quick, who played in the Orange Bowl? The Cotton? The Sugar?
Who cares? They didn’t matter.
But if there were a playoff system, boy, would they ever, and the money would follow.
So keep the BCS. Let the sports writers and biased coaches vote, let the computers spit out the printouts, and come up with eight teams. The ninth and tenth teams will be left out and will be outraged.
• In the 2003-2004 season, LSU (12-1) and Oklahoma (12-1) played for the title. USC (11-1) was left out.
• In 2004-05, USC (12-0) and Oklahoma (12-0) met for the title. Auburn (12-0) said, “Say what?”
• In 2008-2009, Oklahoma (12-1) and Florida (12-1) were the finalists. Texas (11-1) lost a chance at the national title on a bizarre three-way tiebreaker for the Big-12 South championship — Oklahoma went despite losing to Texas.
Let’s just say I’d rather listen to the Nos. 9 and 10 teams whine.
So, you’ve got eight teams. That means a seven-game playoff, ditching league finals. Many good leagues will have two teams, anyway. Revenue from the playoff system will have to go back to the leagues to make up for that lost from those championship games.
The top seven bowl games would take turns hosting the four quarterfinals, two semifinals and one final. And every game would have championship implications. It wouldn’t be like Iowa vs. Georgia Tech in this year’s Orange Bowl, where the Tech coach actually said his team was playing to be ranked higher at the beginning of next year. The top bowls would matter again.
Interest would increase. Stadiums would sell out. Ratings would soar. The interest would dwarf March Madness, a.k.a. the NCAA D-I basketball tournament. After all, for better or worse, football is America’s favorite sport.
Hey, this isn’t a life-or-death issue. But anything worth doing is worth doing right. And I’m pretty sure letting sports writers, coaches and guys making money off an existing system decide who plays for a title is the wrong way to do it.
Just ask 12-0 Auburn.