Monday, December 04, 2006

Buckeyes and Gators and Wolverines, Oh My!

I really thought they would give the title shot to Michigan. I've been prepared to lambast Florida's BCS snub for weeks now. A team that goes 12-1; beats #8 Tennessee, Alabama, #9 LSU, Georgia, #8 Arkansas, Steve Spurrier, and Bobby Bowden; and only loses at #11 Auburn because their punter can't catch a snap deserves to not be left out of a championship opportunity. Given that this year's SEC was one of the toughest conferences to come along in the past decade, it's one-loss winner earned the right to play for the National Title.

Then, I got my way. OSU/Florida on January 8th for all the marbles.

During bookshelving solitude today, I realized that one could also make an argument for Michigan similar to the one I would have made for Florida. They played a similarly difficult schedule, ended up with the identical numbers of losses, and looked like the second-best team all fall. They, too, earned a right to play for the National Title.

So where do these competing arguments leave us? With a mess. A BC-Mess.

Good cases can be made for either Florida or Michigan (or 11-1 Wisconsin or even 12-0 Boise St.) to play on January 8. This is the case every year, last year excepted. The BCS always ends up with multiple one-loss teams or the truly disasterous multiple undefeated teams of 2004 when Auburn got maybe the biggest shaft in the history of college football, going undefeated and winning the SEC but not getting a chance to play for it all.

This year, it doesn't really matter who has the strongest claim on #2 because those futile arguments emerge nearly every year. We should not find surprise at the controversy. What matters is that, once again, the BCS has failed hundreds of student-athletes who have earned a chance at a dream. It fails us fans too, but I prefer to feign the noble route.

Can you imagine what a playoff would look like this year? Go 8 teams deep and your first-round match-ups are: Ohio St/Boise St, Florida/Wisconsin, Michigan/Louisville, and LSU/USC. Take it out to 16 teams, and you include Auburn, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Arkansas, West Virginia, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and Rutgers. At least 13 of those 16 could feasibly run the table. What an amazing three weeks it would be!

To make this situation more painful, Division I-AA football pulls off a playoff system every year. Ask the folks over at Appalachain St how great it is. Furthermore, the NCAA basketball playoffs may be the most exciting sporting event on the planet.

Alack and alas, a playoff is never to be. My favorite Broadway show of all time (and it's not even close), Phantom of the Opera, includes a song with the line: "We've past the point of no return / the final threshold." The NCAA long ago crossed the final threshold, carrying its bride called Mammon with it. Money talks, and it speaks loudly in favor of the current system. Louder than fairness, competition, great games, sportswriters, fans.

Louder than the 107,501 seats in Michigan's home stadium.


Chris Pappa said...

Heartily agreed, Ben-jammin'. A couple points...

1. Can we please have the football national championship before January 8th? By that time, Ohio State will have gone 51 days (more than 7 weeks) without a football game. I, for one, will not care by that point.

2. Phantom the best, and by a long shot? What of Les Mis? Miss Saigon? The Producers?

Ben said...

I feel the need to qualify my comment. My thoughts on "Phantom" are strickly personal opinion and not absolute truth. "Phantom" is not the best show ever by a long shot. It is, however, my personal favorite, by a long shot.

Hopefully, this makes me a little less ridiculous.