Monday, November 28, 2011

A quick rant about college football

It's a slow news day out here as we all finish digesting our Thanksgiving leftovers and watch the market inexplicably march higher, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to do a little ranting about this uniquely peculiar college football season.

I was a little busy watching my Wahoos get destroyed by their rival on Saturday, but when I woke up on Sunday morning I was bombarded with stories telling me that an Alabama-LSU rematch for the national title was essentially locked up. Good to know. I could've sworn we already saw that game, fell asleep for 5 hours and woke up to see that LSU had won, 9-6, at Alabama's stadium. Yawn. Why not try again and see if we can get it right?

Nevermind the fact that--as Stewart Mandel points out--Oklahoma State has a stronger resume in just about every regard, or that the very concept of a rematch lays waste to the BCS' claim that "Every Game Counts". And please ignore the fact that it's completely ludicrous that a team that couldn't even play for, let alone win its conference title is now a virtual lock for the title game, whereas an LSU loss in that very same SEC title game that Alabama couldn't qualify for... could knock them out of the national title picture. Huh? Yeah, I'm confused too.

And yet, championship game hijinks aren't the only screwy thing going on in college football right now, or that requires my ranting. You see, out west in the Pac-12 (formerly the Pac-10), things are getting even weirder.
To bowl or not to bowl? That is the question UCLA, the Pac-12 Conference and the NCAA will have to answer should the Bruins lose to Oregon on Friday in the Pac-12 title game. 
The Bruins (6-6) finished the regular season bowl eligible but would need to ask the conference to petition the NCAA for a waiver to play in a bowl game should they drop below .500. 
Yes, in a bizarre twist of fate, the team that slipped into the conference title game through the back door is now a 30-point underdog in that game and is very likely to lose bowl eligibility simply because it qualified for the Pac-12 title game. 
"It’s a unique situation," quarterback Kevin Prince said.
So if you're keeping track, that's two teams--LSU and UCLA--that could conceivably get penalized because they qualified for their conference title game (LSU better hope it doesn't lose to Georgia in the SEC title game, or else things are gonna get REALLY messed up over in BCS Land...), and one team (Alabama) that seemingly gets the benefit of the doubt no matter what.

Conferences love these title games because of the extra revenue they generate, but they're increasingly becoming a nightmare for the teams involved. In a system that's as screwed up as the BCS, playing games against tough opponents can only hurt you (unless you're Boise State, but let's leave that alone for now), and you therefore want to minimize them at all costs. And yet, winning a conference title now requires adding one more difficult game to the schedule, one more game that can easily cost you a chance at the ultimate goal of a national title.

What we essentially have here now, with the major conferences all moving toward conference title games, is a de facto playoff round--lose your conference title game, and you can kiss your national title hopes goodbye. However, in this case, a team like Alabama can counterintuitively "earn" a playoff bye simply by losing its regular-season home game to LSU.

Ironically enough, losing to LSU may have been the single best thing that Alabama could have done in order to ensure a berth in the national title game--and that, for lack of a better phrase, is seriously fucked up. If we're going to keep this current BCS system that refuses to include a playoff and insists on cherry-picking the top two teams, we have to remove the conference title games from the equation. Oh, we can keep playing the games, that's fine. But they need to be glorified exhibitions--we can't let them have any bearing whatsoever on who gets to play in the playo--excuse me, in the BCS title game.

And another thing... by the time Alabama does finally play in a game it didn't deserve to be in, it won't have played a game for OVER SIX WEEKS. No other sport in the world does that, and it's a big part of the reason that teams so often come out rusty and flat in the BCS title game. What if we played the World Series on Thanksgiving? Would anybody even watch? Why am I still talking?

Whatever. I hate the BCS. Give me a playoff. And let me enjoy watching meaningful college playoff games for the next 5 weeks, instead of garbage like the Idaho Potato Bowl and the Bowl. And please hurry--I'm getting tired of Nick Saban's smugness already.


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