Randy Litzinger/Icon SMI
Have you taken a look at the projections for this season's slate of BCS Bowl games? Is this what the powers that be at college football truly believe is more exciting than a playoff?
There are three teams currently slated to play in BCS bowls that aren't even ranked in the top 15 of the BCS.
The Rose Bowl might be a re-match of a stellar September 6 game between Penn State and Oregon State that saw the Nittany Lions trounce the Beavers 45-14 in a game that wasn't even that close. No. 17 Oregon State, which was 2-3 after five games this season, is in line to play in its first Rose Bowl since 1965 after upsetting USC eight weeks ago and subsequently beating up on the riffraff that has made up the Pac-10 this season.
The Orange Bowl could pit No. 16 Cincinnati, the likely Big East champion, against No. 21 Boston College, the predicted ACC champion. A match-up of those two teams and their combined five losses would be hard-pressed to get a passing mention on ESPN Gameday during the regular season and yet it's probably going to be our prime time game on New Year's night.
There is no way the red and orange suits at the Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl, the two oldest and most prestigious bowl games, can be happy with their projected match-ups. No one outside of the participating schools is looking forward to either game.
Now what if the bowl games were a part of that proposed eight-team playoff everyone's been talking about? What if the Cotton Bowl, which will be played at the new Cowboys stadium in 2010, and the Capital One Bowl, which pays schools more than any non-BCS bowl, joined the BCS to set up a three week-playoff? On New Year's Day, going off this week's BCS standings, we'd have No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 8 Penn State (Rose Bowl), No. 2 Texas vs. No. 7 Texas Tech (Cotton Bowl), No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 Utah (Capital One Bowl) and No. 4. Florida vs. No. 5 USC (Orange Bowl). A week later we'd possibly have Alabama vs. USC in the Sugar Bowl and Texas vs. Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl with a potential USC-Texas match-up one week later in Miami for the BCS national championship.
Under this format, there would be no added games to the bowl schedule, which would only be extended one week with the national championship game being played on Jan. 15 instead of Jan. 8. The only difference would be the four teams that win their New Year's Day BCS bowl games would go on to play one or two more games to decide a true national champion, which shouldn't be too hard for college athletes having come off a one month break from their last meaningful game and will get a seven-month respite before their next meaningful game.
My favorite argument against this format and really any college football playoff is that the regular season is essentially a playoff. As BCS coordinator John Swofford recently said, "Our constituencies have settled on the current BCS system, which the majority believe is the best system yet to determine a national champion while also maintaining the college football regular season as the best and most meaningful in sports."
Oh really? Well, try telling Texas how meaningful its 45-35 win over Oklahoma on a neutral field was when the 11-1 Sooners leapfrog the 11-1 Longhorns in the BCS standings (as most predict they will next week) after a season-ending win against Oklahoma State, a team Texas already defeated back when the Cowboys were undefeated. Try telling undefeated Utah, who traveled to Michigan and played Oregon State out of conference and beat TCU and BYU how meaningful its regular season was when it has no chance to win the national championship no matter what they do. College football's regular season is basically a weekly beauty contest judged by those with a short attention span and reserved for an elite few. Even those who consider the college football regular season to be the best and most meaningful in sports would have to agree that the current college football postseason is the worst and most meaningless in sports.
Wouldn't it be great to keep college football's regular season meaningful while actually giving some meaning to its postseason? With only eight playoff spots available for 119 FBS schools, making it into that exclusive group would still give the regular season more meaning than any other in sports.
Some will say that this format would diminish the significance of bowl games. Nothing could be further from the truth. First of all, the bowl schedule would remain exactly the same for the exception of the Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and BCS national championship game, which are the three BCS bowl games not being played on New Year's Day this season anyway. If anything, this format would give each BCS bowl game more meaning than ever before. As it stands now, every bowl game outside of the BCS national championship game is a glorified exhibition with nothing on the line but a funny looking trophy filled with oranges, roses or tortilla chips. They are simply consolation prizes for teams that couldn't play for the national championship. Under this format, not only would the bowl games get better match-ups but the teams would be playing for something.
And the rest of the country would actually care about them.