The best time of year is here! There’s a chill in the air and families are making plans to spend some time together for a day or two. I’m not talking about Thanksgiving or Christmas. No, this is all about Bowl Season.
Fortunately, (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it) there is always a little bit of controversy this time of year. Before the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) was introduced, there was an arbitrary way of crowning a champion (or two, maybe even three) in college football. Rather than having the two best teams play each other, each had to play in bowl games that their respective conference was contractually obligated to be a part of. For years this caused multiple teams to be considered National Champions. Eventually fans and schools — namely, the NCAA’s target audiences — got tired of it. Finally, the NCAA took action.
Welcome the BCS, a system specifically designed to face the top two teams in the country against each other and decide the true champion. Sounds like a great idea! Not quite. During its tenure as the official selection method, it’s been plagued by controversy. It has even come under legal scrutiny and had to face antitrust lawsuits, corruption and financial impropriety allegations. Of course, there have been single “champions” crowned, but they’ve not been crowned because they’re the best, only because they’re perceived as the best. This commercial sums up the thoughts of the BCS perfectly.
Now, we have another, newer system. Beginning in the 2014 college football season, the top 4 teams at the end of the year (sure to be controversial), will be placed into a playoff and fight for the championship.
And that’s where the true controversy is. The NCAA has elected a Playoff Selection Committee that includes Jeff Long, Pat Haden, Condoleeza Rice, Archie Manning and Tyrone Willingham, to name a few. That’s right, now we have a group of individuals with different backgrounds and interests in college football deciding the fate of four teams at the end of the year. When they announced the playoffs, I was more than thrilled. Then they said there was a selection committee and announced who would be on the committee and now, I’m not so sure.
Is it really that hard to choose the teams? No, but money is involved. There is A LOT of money changing hands throughout the season. BCS bowls pay out 17 to $18 million per team! That’s $172 million for just those games! You can see why the NCAA has interest in controlling who plays in what games. How do they pay these teams? Sponsorship and advertising mainly, and then ticket sales.
This is about trying to avoid controversy. I have a feeling this committee is going to choose (or be forced to choose) the teams that will bring in the biggest TV ratings and fill the stadium. Rather than playing it fair and giving every deserving team a fair chance, it now seems to come down to power. Big teams like Alabama, Texas, Ohio State and Oregon will be fine. But there will be smaller schools with stellar years who will, undoubtedly, be left out because they can’t bring in the revenue the NCAA is looking for.
I’d like to propose something, and it doesn’t require a committee of any kind. Keep the AP rankings just as we’ve always had. The only other part that matters is winning your respective conference. The top four highest ranked conference winners get in. At the end of the year, every team will know exactly where they stand without the need for a selection committee to tell them where they stand. That’s it! If the NCAA wants a selection committee for the other bowl games, be my guest, but it should stop messing with the championship.
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