Doug Robinson: Elitist BCS is an insult to good teams

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 9 2007 2:20 p.m. MST

In America, we tend to go to great lengths to be fair.

There are racial quotas to provide equal opportunity.

There is a welfare program and a graduated tax system that demands more from the rich than the poor.

There are anti-trust laws to even the playing field in big business.

In America, nothing galls us more than the exclusion of people or groups of people because of something not related to ability.

That's why college football and the Bowl Championship Series drives us insane. It's wrongheaded, nonsensical and un-American.

I know we're over here in the B section of the newspaper, but there's a little war going on back in the D section that tends to transcend sports this time of year.

Last night, football teams from Florida and Ohio State met in Phoenix to decide the national championship. On this account, they failed, again, just as the BCS has failed in seven of the nine seasons since its creation.

This time it was unbeaten Boise State that could claim a portion of the national title, but, just like the University of Utah two years ago, the Broncos didn't get the opportunity to play for the championship. They played Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl a week earlier.

College football is the only sport in the world in which a team can complete a season unbeaten without winning the championship. It's happened 16 times in the past four decades.

Every winter, it starts again. Columnists, fans, politicians and the have-nots of college football rail against the unfairness of the BCS and call for a playoff system that would settle the championship on the field, not in a ballot box.

No matter how you cut it, no one can make sense of selecting a national champion pretty much the same way we choose a president.

It was voters who selected the two participants in last night's game. If voters could pick the best teams, we wouldn't need to play games on the field. If the BCS had been in charge of the NFL last year, the Pittsburgh Steelers wouldn't have been given a berth in a BCS bowl, and all they did was win the Super Bowl.

But even aside from the bizarre process of selection — with its mysterious computer polls and media/coaches polls and mathematical formulas and strength of schedule, blah, blah, blah — the most maddening aspect of this ridiculous situation is that almost half of the nation's teams are realistically excluded from the process.

In reality, the six so-called BCS conferences have guaranteed access to the BCS bowls; five conferences do not. There are 10 spots in the five BCS games, and eight of them are reserved for the BCS schools, plus independent Notre Dame, which gets preferential treatment based on tradition even though it gets pummeled annually in the postseason.

That means about 45 percent of the teams are eliminated from the championship race before the first kickoff. The BCS leaves two spots open for at-large selections, but only twice in nine years has a non-BCS team been awarded one of those berths (Utah and Boise State).

Everyone knows the system is unfair, but the BCS conferences, run by greedy men at greedy schools, aren't about to give away any of the loot from TV and bowl payouts — $14 million to $17 million per conference — plus the exposure of the national stage, which attracts more recruits, which builds future powerhouses in a perfect, rich-get-richer scheme. If a monopoly like this occurred in the business world, the government would break it up.

It's a caste system. It's the haves and the have-nots. It's the blue bloods and the peasants. Half of the nation's teams are treated like kids from the wrong side of the tracks trying to get into a snooty fraternity.

No matter how the blue bloods try to justify it, they can't, but they sure try. Big 10 Commissioner Jim Delany, considered the most powerful man in college football, told Yahoo! Sports that a playoff would be good for football at large, but "I don't work for college football at large."

It's all about money and nothing more; otherwise, there would be a Division 1-A playoff, just as there is for Division I-AA, Division II and Division III.

"A playoff system really isn't needed after all," it states on the BCS Web site.

Try telling that to Boise State.


E-mail: drob@desnews.com

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