Friday, April 28, 2006

Let 'em play the game...

I was fortunate to play sports throughout my life and have won a few championships along the way. Rarely did any of those teams go undefeated. There were almost always a few setbacks like injuries or players missing games for various reasons. But at the end of every season, at every level and in every sport, there was always an opportunity for redemption in the form of a playoff. Never did I have to look to computer nerds or sportswriters and have them select who was the best team in the league.

Unfortunately, that is the case when it comes to one of my favorite sports, college football. A handful of the wealthier conferences banded together and created this travesty known as the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). Or as I call it the BS CS - "championship" my foot! When you have effectively prevented almost half of the NCAA 1A teams even a shot at the title, you cannot claim that you have a true champion.

At least before the BSCS was invented the Bowl system, as flawed as it was, left the door open for upsets and some drama leading up to the final poll. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of sportswriters making the decision either. But the way things played out was at least more interesting for the fans. Now, the BSCS gods pick two teams and declare the winner between them to be the "champion". This makes every other bowl game a complete waste of time.

The reality is the BSCS is about money and power. The big conferences want all the money and the power. They argue that the outsiders can't compete - which is laughable considering what always happens in every other NCAA sport like March Madness. But the system itself helps perpetuate this myth by the windfall that is hoarded by the same power conferences. Only a liberal could love this system!

Next year we may have as many as 32 bowls. That means 64 teams will get to go to a bowl - whoopee!!!. Only one bowl will mean anything. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see SMU in a bowl game - I've waited long enough!! But I would much rather see them have a shot at winning everything through a playoff. Since every other level and sport can do it I would think the NCAA 1A teams could figure it out too!

Here is my simple plan for a playoff - 16 teams - 4 weeks - 1 true champion
ACC Champion
Big 10 Champion
Big 12 Champion
Big East Champion
CUSA Champion
MAC Champion
MWC Champion
Pac 10 Champion
SEC Champion
Sunbelt Champion
WAC Champion
5 - deserving (based on performance not alumni size) at large teams

The first round games can be played at the school's stadiums. I would prefer to avoid bowls altogether because they are part of the problem we have now. Maybe the latter rounds could be awarded by bid.

Where possible, I would also require all conferences to expand to at least 12 teams and have a championship game. No goofy 3-way ties where the 3 teams never played each other. Have every conference produce a true champion. No special waivers for Notre Dame or anyone else. Everyone must earn their way into the playoff. There could still be bowl games for the other deserving teams. With this method, EVERYONE has a legitimate shot at being the national champion. Nothing less will do.

With this system, we would have a TRUE NATIONAL CHAMPION by the start of the Spring semester. How cool would that be!!

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