Chaos Rankings

Monday, November 29, 2010

Smurf-turf Blues

It ain't easy being Boise State. You're held to a different standard than everyone else. You wear the same target on your back every week as one of the nation's elite teams, but if you lose, you may as well cease to exist. This was supposed to be the break-through year for the Broncos. They were joining a strong Mountain West conference alongside TCU, Utah, BYU, and Air Force, and then strong fellow WAC members Nevada and Fresno State were coming along for the ride. Then before it even began, it all blew up, as Utah left for the Pac 10-soon-to-be-12, BYU decided it wanted to be like Notre Dame, and now TCU is abandoning the league for the Big East. All of a sudden, there's no substance left to the MWC, and Boise looks like they bet on the wrong horse (no Bronco pun intended). Add to that the fact that Boise was returning 20 starters from a very good team last year and began the season ranked in the Top 5, with a very good shot at a national title game appearance if a couple teams lost. But Friday night in Reno, that all went up in smoke as well. Now instead of joining a league with a legitimate claim to being stronger than the Big East and probably the ACC, they join a gutted league of nobodies. Instead of playing for a national title, they are going to be relegated to a bowl game with a name you won't even remember the next morning. Talk about the blues.
I'm not here to say that Boise is a definite #1 team, or is even the best non-AQ team out there, but they are a very good team, and one loss to another very good team shouldn't damn your season. You wanna talk schedule strength? Fine, according to the NCAA's SOS ratings, Boise plays an equivalent schedule to Ohio State and Nebraska. No friends, I'm here to beg for a playoff and to tell you that the BCS is preposterous. Look at the Big T([w]elev)en where there's a 3-way round robin tie for the conference title. BCS #8 Michigan State won't be playing in a BCS game, but UConn, Pitt or WVU will? At least Michigan State will still play in a top-tier bowl game, not the frozen tundra of the Humanitarian Bowl or the Fight Hunger Bowl.
I heard a lot of announcers this weekend talking about how games this past week were basically opening round playoff games. Certainly, there were elimination games, but often the winning team effectively has a zero percent chance of "advancing" into later rounds. LSU's outside shot at the BCS title game disappeared when they lost to Arkansas, but it's not like the Razorbacks have any realistic chance of playing for a national title. Boise's title shot went out the window with a loss to Nevada, but the Wolfpack have a mathematic impossibility to reach the title game. it's only a playoff game if both teams entering the game have the same mathematical odds of advancing to not only the next round, but also to the championship. When March madness begins, technically, all 65 teams have an equal chance to win it all. Just because it's unlikely that the play-in game winner will make the Final Four doesn't mean they have any less opportunity to do so. Can we all agree to dispense sugar-coating the BCS by attempting to couch regular season games as "effective playoff games?" It's dishonest.
Here's my proposition: There are 11 conferences. Take the 11 champions, and the top 5 ranked teams who are not champions, regardless of conference affiliation, seed them according to rank, and play a 16 team tournament. Alternatively, just take the top 16 ranked teams, period. You might end up with 4 SEC teams in the playoffs, but so what? If they're top teams, don't they deserve a chance for not just a national title, but a national championship? Every other level of football has a playoff, why not Div I-A? You like bowl games? Hey, me too! But while we're fixing stuff, can we fix this too? Reduce the number of bowl games (a necessity if you remove 16 bowl-eligible teams for the playoffs), and increase the requirement to play in one: Your record must be over 0.500. Your 6-6 record does not merit the reward of a bowl game; you did not have a winning season; better luck next year. Don't like the idea of the Rose Bowl going away? Me either, but I have a solution for that too. Add the Peach and the Cotton, and stage the playoff quarterfinals and semifinals as the Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange, Peach, and Cotton bowls, rotating games as necessary so everyone stays happy.
Does the BCS match up the two best teams at the end of the year? Sometimes, yes, but more often it's splitting hairs between a few very good teams, any one of which would be a deserving champion. Just ask 2000 Miami, 2001 Colorado/Oregon, 2003 USC, 2004 Auburn, 2006 Michigan, or 2008 Texas. Fans of college football deserve better than the BCS. They deserve better than watching some pointless bowl games between mediocre 6-6 teams. They deserve a system that rewards teams who turn in strong seasons with minor slip ups a chance to play for something meaningful at the end of it all.


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