Saturday, December 19, 2009

The BCS Disaster: This Year's Version

College football will have a reasonably good championship game this year, between unbeatens (and major conference champions) Alabama and Texas. I will be backing Alabama, for the first time in any game since the 1965 Cotton Bowl, when young Joe Namath led the Crimson Tide against Texas. Alabama earned its spot with an impressive win in the SEC championship game against Florida, knocking down Gator Tim Tebow's bid for a second Heisman.

Texas QB Colt McCoy ruined his bid for the Heisman with a bonehead play in the final minute of the Big 12 championship game with Nebraska (Alabama running back Mark Ingram finally survived, in the closest voting for many years; a good result for this year's popularity contest). With 15 seconds left and the ball deep in Nebraska territory, the Longhorns down by two, McCoy failed to call a timeout, then ran a rollout play that went too long, followed by a long downfield dump pass out of bounds. The clock read :00 and everyone started going on the field. For a few seconds, the BCS plans for the championship game were in total turmoil, but the referees restored order, gave Texas one second (replays showed the decision was right), and planned order was restored when Texas' winning field goal was converted.

If Texas had lost, it would've been another typical BCS disaster. There were two other unbeaten teams that won their minor conferences--TCU and Boise State. One would have been chosen to play in the championship (a certain ratings disaster, and probable football quality mismatch), and the other would have a major beef. Now, both do, but they can be discounted rather easily for the disparity in schedule difficulty vs. the two teams who will actually be matched.

The narrow escape does not in any way vindicate the improper way NCAA Division I determines its football champion every year. The U.S. House has passed a bill abolishing the BCS system, and I expect the Senate will do the same, or at least threaten to do so, once they emerge from the health care labyrinth. A little light on this insane system should press the college presidents to change to an eight-team playoff system--the first round during this pre-Christmas dead season, semifinals on New Year's, and a proper championship game around Jan. 15. A little coordination with the major league (the NFL) should ensure there would be no counterprogramming mishaps, and the game will benefit greatly as a result.

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