Thursday, September 1, 2011

The BCS Debate

Today, Thursday, September 1st, marks the start of the 2011 college football season and I have never been more excited. I love college football, even more than the NFL, because the players are not playing for money and many likely will not turn into star football players. The biggest stars are often the littlest stars, the underdogs with no 5-star recruits and no star players who end a powerhouse program's BCS Championship hopes with one game. As the season progresses, all but a few schools fall like bowling pins, week by week, until two, maybe three, remain undefeated at the end of the season. And it is these teams, the ones who were able to withstand blow after blow for an entire season, that earn the right to play for the BCS Championship. There is nothing else like a college football season.

But the debate keeps growing: is this the right way to crown a national champion? Is it fair to not allow each team to have a shot at the championship despite one mishap in one game during the season? I think it is. One thing is for certain, the current system certainly makes the regular season relevant. Take a look at college basketball. Does anyone pay attention to it until March? Not really. The only thing that people care about in college basketball is the postseason tournament. It essentially renders the regular season worthless.

Meanwhile, college football's strategy is a smart one. Making the regular season count so much certainly maintains a high level of attendance of regular season games and preserves fan interest for a much longer period than college basketball. If 64 teams made a hypothetical postseason football tournament, fans would save their money for postseason games. The current system ensures fan interest in the regular season.

Another argument that has been thrown around is that the current system is not fair. I find that bizarre. Of course it is fair. Win all of your games and you can compete for the national championship. Every team has an equal opportunity to get there. Granted, the system creates controversy when 3 or 4 teams go undefeated, such as in 2004, when Utah was left out of the national championship. In this case, I do agree that a mini-playoff, solely between the undefeated teams, is necessary to determine the two teams that make it to the championship. For three teams, there would be a mini-round robin between the three teams to determine the top two, with margin of victory being the tie breaker if the three teams all go 1-1. For four teams, a 4-team playoff would be used, 1 vs 4, 2 vs 3. The winners would be in the title game.

The BCS system isn't perfect, but it does make the regular season much more fun for fans because it actually matters if your team loses. One loss and there is little hope of making it to the title game. That, and the fact that it raked in about $21-27 million per conference make it a wise choice for the NCAA. Reducing the number of teams that participate in the postseason could jeopardize the amount of money that each conference, and each program, receives.

Don't succumb to all the protests, NCAA. The system that is in place right now is what you should stick with.

What do you think?

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