on January 1, 2010 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Steven Bradley: After all these years, BCS still stinks

With both a new year and new decade upon us, we’re all making some kind of resolution — whether it be losing the weight, quitting the smoking or swearing off the fantasy football — designed to make a positive change in our lives moving forward.

For those of us who live and breathe college football, however, it appears we’re stuck with the BCS.

Longtime readers of this newspaper will quickly recognize this as my annual anti-BCS rant (and believe me, it’s much to my chagrin that I’m still writing it), but this time, I consulted someone with a much closer view of the system than I have: Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who by his own admission is “more of a traditional guy” that supports the bowl system.

As evidence of Swinney’s status as a bowl believer, consider this: he made that claim just days after learning his Tigers, who won the ACC Atlantic and were but one defensive stop from playing in the Orange Bowl in sunny Miami, would instead spend the holidays in frigid Nashville for their second meeting in four seasons with perennial SEC cellar-dweller Kentucky.

Even as a staunch supporter of the bowls, however, Swinney openly admitted he wasn’t opposed to ditching the current system for crowning a national champion in favor of a playoff by simply adding a game onto the back end.

“From a BCS standpoint, I would be one that would be in support of one more game,” Swinney said recently. “Do the bowls like you’ve always done, but have all the BCS games done by, let’s say, Jan. 2, and then have one more game on Jan. 9 or Jan. 10, whatever it may be.

“And I think that would pretty much resolve any issues that there are and also create a little drama. … I think it would be good for college football. I don’t see why you couldn’t have one more game.”

And while a plus-one, basically a four-team playoff, would certainly be one giant leap in the right direction, one only needs to look at how such a system would play out this season to realize it certainly wouldn’t resolve everything.

For starters, if the finalists were based on the BCS standings, that would leave Alabama, Texas, Cincinnati and TCU as the four combatants for the title.

The problem there, of course, is you’d still have an undefeated team, sixth-ranked Boise State, left out in the cold, along with the fifth-ranked team, Florida, who finished the regular season unbeaten but would be punished for playing in a conference that has a championship game (since some BCS leagues don’t).

But at least in this scenario Cincinnati and TCU would get the chance to actually lose a game before being eliminated from the national title hunt.

And even a four-team playoff would be better than what we’re currently stuck with: watching either the SEC or Pac-10 champion play either the Big Ten or Big 12 champ for the title, season after season after season.

In case you haven’t noticed, this makes six years in a row.

Unfortunately, the current system only seems to be growing stronger, as this year the first full-time executive director of the BCS, a job previously rotated among major conference commissioners, was appointed.

The job of the executive director, a man named Bill Hancock who was once the director of the NCAA basketball tournament (the most democratic of all postseason championships), is apparently to spew propaganda about why the BCS (the least) is so wonderful for college football.

“My feeling is that I can help people understand it,” Hancock said during a recent interview. “A lot of the frustration with the BCS is because people don’t understand it.

“They think there is this hypothetical playoff which would just be a panacea. The fact is a playoff would be as contentious or more contentious than what we have now.”

After looking up the word panacea (it means a cure-all) I realized Hancock was suggesting that, say, an eight-team playoff whereby a champion was actually decided on the playing field — as it is in every other sport of any kind at any level with virtually no complaints — would lead to more controversy and injustice than the current system, whereby a jillion different formulas, polls and ranking systems are plugged into a giant calculator that spits out the two teams that get a chance to play for the title.

Maybe he’s right, and the majority of college football fans and I just don’t get it.

But Hancock does.

“This is the greatest thing ever,” he said. “Every year we are guaranteed to have the No. 1 and No. 2 team in the nation meet for the national championship. It is like having a new toy at Christmas.”

Only in this scenario, it’s always the same old toy. And the BCS makes sure only the same old kids get to play with it.

Unfortunately, it looks like I’ll be writing this same old column for many years to come.