Thursday, November 29, 2007

When enough is not enough ...

Ah, yes. It's time to pull out my favorite ax again for a little grinding -- the BCS.

Turns out, there are quite a few interesting articles on the BCS today, some from bloggers and some from regular old MSM'ers. But I'll start with the MSM, just for the heck of it.

This first piece comes from the Lawrence Journal-World out in Kansas. The piece is written by Gil Lebreton from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and he is very much on the same page as I am:

The cynics and troublemakers want to see chaos.

They want to see upsets. They want to see Missouri, the college football Cinderella, turn into a pumpkin. They want to see Dave Wannstedt’s underachieving Pitt team spoil West Virginia’s heavenly dreams.

They want bloodshed in Baton Rouge and Columbus.

They want a total Bowl Championship Series meltdown. They want to see some sort of combination of aligned planets, howling dogs and Southeastern Conference losses where the final rankings send, oh, Hawaii and Appalachian State to the BCS title game.

And it’s hard to blame them. The BCS deserves all the misery and criticism that it gets.

Oh, hell yes! That describes my attitude to a T. I want outrageous injustice, something as over-the-top as anyone can imagine ... except apparently this guy -- Hawai'i and Appy State? But I like your thinking, Gil.

His argument is that whenever the BCS works out, it is more by accident than by design, and I think he has it exactly right, as is his ultimate conclusion:
As colleague Nico Van Thyn put it so well Sunday, the path to the BCS title game is often clearly drawn. It begins with basic geography: Play in a major conference that lacks major competition. If a team can count the dangerous opponents on one hand, it probably has a chance at playing in the BCS title game.
That's exactly what we have seen this year. Yes, we have seen the humans and to some extent the cyborgs try to insert some semblance of schedule strength in there, but with only a modicum of success. Extreme top-heavy conferences have a much easier path to the BCS championship than, say, any SEC team. Add the league championship game into the equation, and you wind up with virtually two different levels of football. Try to imagine, if you will, an NCAA basketball tournament where one team gets to play nothing but 7 seeds and lower until it gets to the championship game.

Sweet deal, if you can get it -- and some conferences have it (I'm looking at you, Big 10 and Big East).

The always outstanding Sunday Morning Quarterback sideswipes this issue in a recent post, where he quotes Kirk Herbstreit thus:
... Ohio State will gain more respect if it plays USC in the Rose Bowl and wins that game, than if it goes and beats West Virginia and wins the national title. From an image standpoint, Ohio State would score more points going to the Rose Bowl than by going to the national championship game. If you can believe that, that's the truth.
Well. So Kirk is sayin' that the Rose Bowl means more than the BCS championship, I guess, because the quality of the teams likely to be playing there are better than that of the BCS championship? How else could a victory there "gain more respect" for anyone, or is this some sort of nouveaux logique that keeps the Worldwide Leader ... well, the Worldwide Leader?

Naturally, SMQ reaches the same conclusion:
But this remains the only time I'm aware of that a well-known, mainstream talking head has suggested there is a greater reward than being selected for the concocted championship. USC got a little sympathy in 2003 with the AP vote, but that didn't seem to dent the myth of a real, be-all, end-all championship. I don't remember anyone on ESPN in 2004 arguing that Auburn should be considered on par with USC for its 13-0 season. The Tigers were just screwed. Sorry, guys, and better luck next time.
Let's see -- Does that only work for Ohio State, Kirk, or can, say LSU or Georgia play? Sheesh.

LSU's student newspaper, The Daily Reveille, has an excellent interview with SEC Commissioner and BCS coordinator Mike Silve about the BCS system. In spite of this year's season Silve is still sticking to one of two possible changes to the BCS:
One potential system would produce an additional set of standings after the bowl games. The No. 1 and No. 2 teams based on that week would then play in the title game.

The other possibility would mimic a tournament. The top teams would be seeded in bowls based on the regular season standings with the winners playing for the title the following week.

Slive said there are three components that he considers in developing such a system. He said he aims to protect the regular season, the bowl system and the length of the season interfering with the academics of athletes.
Silve also admitted that undefeated Auburn in 2004 being left out of the mix for the championship affected his thinking, but I personally don't think it affected it all that much. Still, either of the two possibilities Silve appears open to would be an improvement over the current (non) system.

AEM, writing for MVN's SEConds to Victory, notes that #1 Missouri is a 3-point dog against #9 Oklahoma in their face off in San Antonio for the Big 12 championship:

So, a neutral site, number one against number nine, a 11-1 team against a 10-2 team, should be that Missouri is going to be the favorite, since the BCS has them as the top team in the nation. Well, surprise surprise to one and all, Oklahoma is the team that is favorite in this game, by all means, a small 3 points, but it still makes no sense does it now. The number one team in the country playing either at home or on a neutral site should be favorite against anyone except maybe the number two team. However Oklahoma is the ninth team in the nation, not the second, and is favored in this game. And in my non professional opinion the Sooners will win this game pretty easily.

I don't really know who wins, but he has a point. There is no way that the #1 team in the nation should be a dog at a neutral site against the #9. The only way that happens is with a seriously flawed system, and perhaps this is the most egregious example of all. It might not be an issue if Oklahoma were #3 or even #4. But #9?

An argument would be that Vegas doesn't care about BCS rankings, but let's get serious -- Vegas probably knows these teams' potentials better than any voter in the BCS system. Not one of the BCS voters have any money at stake in the BCS, and the Vegas casinos most certainly do. The argument that "Vegas doesn't vote in the BCS" is true, facile and utterly flawed if applied to the argument.

Bottom line -- we need something better, and this year is just one more reason.


asdasdasd said...

I think it will be LSU ( who really didnt lose in Regulation) and not higher ranked Georgia who didnt even win their division. And Ohio State will be there. I dont think a team that doesnt have a Conference champ game should leap those who do.

Maybe if Tuberville could win the games he should have AU would have been in top 5, but he loses 4 games and GETS A RAISE... although I am grateful he beat the Gators in my home state. Great to wear AUBURN shirts in Florida now.

BestofSEC said...

Heh. I'll bet it is.

Auburn almost always seems to sneak in a good record, no matter how their team looks. Amazing.

What counts, though, are the W's.