Ding dong, the wicked witch is at long last expired.
Ding dong, the wicked witch is at long last expired.
So let's have a moment of silence for the BCS, which for the past 14 years (and the next two) has decided, for better or whatever, which two teams would play for college football's national championship. To listen to the detractors — and there were a few — it's been mostly for the bad. It must have had something to do with Oregon getting left out in 2001. Or maybe that was Miami in 2000? Did I hear Auburn 2004? Of course, it's only fair to point out that the powers that be did occasionally get it right, too. More than once or twice, as a matter of fact.
Anyway, come 2014, the BCS will be no more. It's time will have finally come and gone, like the Bowl Alliance and Bowl Coalition before it. Or was it the other way around? In its place will be a four-team tournament, which was approved Tuesday in Washington by the presidents of the 11 BCS conferences and independent Notre Dame, based upon recommendations made a week ago by their respective commissioners. So the decision-makers are all on board. It's taken a while to reach this point. Actually, six months by official count. But that's what America apparently wanted. Progress? A couple of years ago, they couldn't even agree to take it this far. There will be tweaking, because there always is. But things will now be decided on the field, albeit in a much more condensed version than what takes place in Division I-AA, II or III. Nevertheless, it's a move in the proper direction, right?
"Anyone who thinks going to (the playoff format) is going to end the controversy, they're naive," Pac-12 commish Larry Scott cautioned last week. "Unless you're going to an eight- or 16-team playoff, and I don't see that happening in the foreseeable future, you're going to have debate.:
Of course, he's absolutely on the money, which is always a key word in that world. Because only a cynic would maintain that it wasn't decided on the field in the BCS era.
Forget the details for a moment. The regular season will still constitute, in essence, the real playoff. And while it might open up more wiggle room for, say, a Boise State to have a better chance of squeezing in, this stuff figures to remain largely the domain of the food chain's usual big-boy suspects. Level playing field aside, as it should be, since they're usually in that position for a reason — sorry about that — but the truth is a valid defense in a vast majority of precincts.
Yes, it's change. So that will be viewed as, well, about time. But know this: It doesn't solve all the problems. Actually, not even close. It doesn't mean there's going to be something bigger by, say, 2030. Or even beyond that. But doubling the number of teams in the postseason equation is mostly an admission/concession that the BCS just wasn't working well enough anymore for many fan bases. And the groundswell of public support for something different had simply become too loud to totally ignore any longer. Yet, make no mistake: This all comes about reluctantly, as is the case with many shifts. What it probably does is ensure the controversy won't be about who's No. 2 and 3 anymore, but rather Nos. 4 and 5.
In basketball, the last team out is the 38th at-large. That team probably can't win it all most years. But the No. 5 in football might. Therein lies the inequity.
But, hey, it's something new to embrace going forward. Maybe that can't be a bad thing, since no system's going to be flawless. At least now the teams that think they got a raw deal can't blame the polls or those ever-popular power rankings. They can take it up with the Selection Committee, which in theory will give "all the teams an equal opportunity to participate."
OK. Among the "factors" those chosen few will "value" are records, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, and whether the team is a conference champion. In other words, the same criteria voters and computers have tended to weigh in the BCS. But there's always the chance that the committee members, whoever they turn out to be, are just that much more knowledgeable. It's been known to happen.
The semifinals will be held on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, with "Championship Monday" to follow anywhere from seven (in 2019) to 12 (2015) days later, depending on the calendar. The contract is for a dozen years. The semis will rotate among six bowls, instead of just the current four that host the final, with the title game going to neutral sites. They are still discussing how to distribute all the added revenue that will be generated. Other matters are still up for more talks. They often are.
"We are very pleased with this new arrangement," the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee said in a joint statement after the white smoke appeared. "College football's championship game is America's second-most watched sporting event, and we're proud to build on our successes as we grow the sport and hear the voices of everyone who loves college football ...
"We recognized that the BCS has been controversial in some years, but we also believe it has turned college football from a regional sport into a wonderfully popular national sport, much to the benefit of our alumi, student-athletes and fans. We now seek to build an even better ... season."
Until maybe the first time they don't get it right, either. Even with that increased margin for error.