A story in yesterday's Sports Business Journal reports that the BCS is considering hiring someone whose job would be to defend the BCS against people like me--and many, many others--who think it is a complete and utter sham. In fact, John Marinatto, the new commissioner of The Big East, who as of now would be in charge of the BCS next year--the ACC's John Swofford is doing it right now--is quoted as saying that the BCS commissioners believe they have not done a good enough job of "defending the BCS."
This is like saying that Ron Ziegler didn't do a good enough job of defending Richard Nixon during Watergate or that Dan Snyder's problems in Washington right now are the result of lousy PR. You can't defend the indefensible.
It's worth noting that the man who actually runs the BCS day-to-day and tries as best he can to explain it to the rest of the world in terms that will make it sound as if has some semblance of fairness is Bill Hancock. You can't possibly hire anyone better than Bill Hancock to be your out-front guy on something. There isn't anyone who knows Hancock or has worked with him who doesn't respect and like him. He's smart, he's committed and he's always prepared. He worked for the NCAA for years and was one of those people who, rather than citing some arcane reason why the answer to any and all questions was no, always tried to find a way to say yes.
So, if the BCS boys think they're going to find someone who is going to "defend," them better than Hancock, they have completely lost touch with reality.
What is most galling about the BCS other than the fact that it is a completely unfair system that does not NEED to exist other than to feed the pocketbooks of the 66 schools and the egos of their presidents, is that there isn't anyone involved who will even CONSIDER the notion that a playoff is the fairest and best thing--not to mention the most lucrative--that can happen to Division 1-A college football. (You can tell the NCAA what it can do with its fancy new names for Division 1-A and 1-AA by the way).
They won't consider listening to President Obama or perhaps more importantly the players and coaches who compete in the actual games. They keep talking about making improvement and tweaking the system. When your car has four flat tires, changing one of them doesn't do much good.
Last spring the BCS held meetings to allegedly study the system. The guy in charge at the time, Oregon President David Frohnmayer came out of the meetings to tell us that everything was fine that it was those criticizing the BCS who had the problem, not the BCS.
The BCS defense is built, to be honest, on a bunch of lies. Once more time, let's go through them:
--A playoff system would hurt the 'student-athletes,' academically. Lie. Football players taking part in a three round playoff that would begin on January 1 would miss almost no class and would miss far LESS class than the basketball players who take part in the NCAA Tournament smack in the middle of a semester or a trimester, often just prior to exams.
--A playoff system would hurt the tradition of the bowls. LIE. Again, if you had an eight team playoff, you rotate the seven games among seven of the bowls. For argument's sake let's say they are The Rose, Fiesta,
, Sugar, Cotton, Gator and Citrus. Four host quarterfinals on January 1; two host semi-finals a week later--whatever is the closest Saturday on the calendar and the championship game is held the week in-between the NFL's conference finals and The Super Bowl. There would be NO CHANGE in the role of the second-tier bowls. All those six loss teams could still trumpet being "bowl eligible." What makes this argument even more hypocritical is that the NCAA is currently handing out bowl sanctions like a politician hands out lawn signs. New Year's Day has lost almost all of its meaning as a day when major bowls are played. Can't wait for the new "Dallas Bowl," to kickoff in a year with Orange (6-6) taking on SMU (7-5). Must See TV right there. Illinois
--Three games would be too much of a financial burden for traveling fans. Lie. Do those fans with the bucks to travel three straight weeks culminating at The Final Four seem to have a problem? Do you think there would be ANY trouble selling out any of the playoff games (Most of the bowls these days play to lots of empty seats? Anyone get a good look at the stands during the Virginia Tech-Cincinnati Orange Bowl last year?). You start a playoff and someone's team is in it, they'll find a way to be there--especially the championship game which would involve only two sets of fans traveling as opposed to the Final Four which (surprise) involves four sets of fans.
--The BCS makes the regular season more meaningful than a playoff would. LIE. The last three weeks of the regular season in college basketball are filled with speculation about who is in, who is out, who is on the bubble, who is going to get the No. 1 seeds--it is endless. Every game is a big game for different reasons. Right now, two undefeated teams--
and TCU--KNOW they will not be allowed to compete for the national championship. One of them, in all likelihood, won't even get to go to a BCS bowl if both win out. How will the Boise State players feel if they go undefeated and don't get to play for the title. How did the Cincinnati kids feel last year. It is NOT a real competition if you can go undefeated and not be allowed to play for the championship. The apologists of course point out "strength of schedule." To start with this is a joke because the power schools won't play the non-power schools. You think Notre Dame, which basically has to be a little better than mediocre (as it is this year) to get a BCS bid while playing eight home games is going to play Boise State or TCU home-and-home anytime soon? Same goes for schools like Utah or Florida who would rather schedule Coastal Carolina and Penn State and laugh all the way to the bank. Beyond that, what was George Mason's "strength of schedule," like three years ago? How about Gonzaga when it became Cinderella and made its run to the final eight in 1999? If someone goes undefeated you let them tee it up in postseason and see how they do. Maybe they turn out to be Akron . Maybe they turn out to be Hawaii . You can't find out unless you let them compete. Utah
I got in trouble a few years ago because I made the comment on NPR that the BCS Presidents were the most corrupt group of people to come along since the mafia. I want to apologize for that comment--to the mafia. You see, from what I know, the mafia never made any pretense about who they were. They didn't go around and pay people to "defend," what they were doing. I doubt anyone ever said in a meeting, "You know, if we hired the right PR firm to defend killing our enemies, it would make us look a lot better."
The BCS guys, on the other hand, strut around talking about doing what is best for the "student-athletes," and acting so self-important you literally cringe. Almost all of them insist on being called, "doctor," because they have PhD’s. My mother got her PhD from
in music history and used to tell people who tried to call her Dr. Feinstein, "doctors help people who are sick. I'm an expert on Brahms--stop it." Columbia
Then again, my mother wasn't a preening LIAR like these guys are.
I know there are far more important things for The President and Congress to be dealing with right now. But it is worth a little bit of their time to make the BCS go away. It is a pox and there's no reason--not one--for Division 1-A football players to have the same opportunity every other 'student-athlete,' in America has: to compete fairly on the playing field--not inside a computer or based on a bunch of biased people's ballots--for the championship of their sport.
I realize I've said all this before. But as long as these "doctors," and their commissioner flunkies keep trying to spread these lies, I'm going to keep shooting them down.
"We need to do a better job defending the BCS." Please, please just shut up.