At last, the college football season is over.
It ended with a thud, Alabama, after almost falling asleep at the wheel in the second half, pulling away to beat Texas, 37-21. Texas deserves credit for hanging in after being down 24-6 and after losing quarterback Colt McCoy on the first series. I have no doubt Texas fans will claim forever their team would have won if McCoy had played. In the end, we’ll never know. Maybe if McCoy had been hurt in a first round playoff game the Longhorns would have survived and advanced and McCoy could have come back and played. But, as we all know, that’s not the way college football is structured.
My pal Bill Hancock was at it again on Thursday, giving his “state of the BCS Address,” in his new role as executive director of America’s most corrupt organization. It was pretty clear that Bill had been prepped thoroughly by Ari Fleischer, who knows a thing or two about simply throwing out untruths from a pulpit of power and getting the public—or at least some of the public—to swallow them.
Bill made four claims Thursday that are, put simply, 100 percent untrue. Not 99 percent, 100 percent. Let’s review.
1. A college football playoff would lead to more injuries. This isn’t just wrong, it’s absolutely hypocritical. The BCS Presidents (Bill and Fleisher’s employers) are the ones who voted several years ago to add a 12th regular season game for one reason: more money. Three of the six BCS conferences play a conference championship game with the Big Ten soon to follow. That’s a 13th game followed by a bowl game. That’s 14 games—two fewer than an NFL regular season. If an eight team playoff existed with an 11 game regular season no one would play more than 14 games and only two teams would play that many. So claiming the BCS Presidents care at all about injuries is absolutely untrue.
2. A playoff would affect the exam schedules for players. Oh please Bill, don’t trot out that tired argument. Everyone knows that basketball players miss FAR more class during the NCAA Tournament in March and April than football players would miss if there was a playoff system. Let’s go through this one more time: You play quarterfinals on New Year’s Day, making it an absolutely spectacular college football day instead of making people watch The Outback Bowl or The Gator Bowl with five and six loss teams playing on New Year’s. You play the semifinals the next week. At that point six teams will have been eliminated without missing a day of class. Then you play the championship game two weeks later—the same weekend as the NFL conference championship games so there are no NFL games on Saturday. Depending on the school players from TWO schools might miss two or three days of classes at the very beginning of a semester. NO FINALS missed—none, zero.
3. The bowl system would be damaged. Not only is this wrong, the opposite is true—the bowl system would be enhanced. Instead of having one game that has meaning to everyone across the country you would have seven. The four bowls that are currently BCS hosts would be joined by three more bowls—let’s say The Cotton for tradition; The Citrus (or whatever it is called now) for location and The Gator (tradition and location). They rotate games each year although if I’m in charge the championship game is always at The Rose Bowl because it is still the best setting there is for a football game. The 29 other bowls (two more come on line next year) continue exactly as they are EXCEPT they are all played before New Year’s Day to clear the stage for the playoff. The 6-6 teams still get to go play a bowl game and the boys in the ugly jackets can still parade around in their ugly jackets. Nothing changes. Bowls can still take a 6-6 Iowa State team over an 8-4 Missouri team because Iowa State sells more tickets if that’s what they so desire.
4. The regular season has more meaning under the current system. Really? I’d love for Bill to walk into the locker rooms at Cincinnati, TCU and Boise State and explain how much meaning their undefeated regular seasons had. Only in the BCS can teams not lose a game and not have a chance to play for a championship. It’s absolutely ridiculous. Basically, those teams’ regular seasons had no meaning at all. If Boise State had beaten the Dallas Cowboys in their bowl game instead of TCU there are people out there who would say, ‘yeah but how would they do in the Big 12?’ Here’s the answer: who knows since no one from The Big 12 will play them and the criminals making the BCS matchups (thankfully that’s not Bill) put TCU against Boise State to make sure those two schools wouldn’t (again) embarrass BCS schools by beating them.
So Bill went four-for-four yesterday—aided by his new best friend Ari. He made four assertions and none of them was even close to true. My guess is he’ll get a bonus in his next paycheck for keeping a straight face while saying all this stuff.
A couple of other things are worth noting: NONE of the five BCS bowls provided a really dramatic finish. Perhaps it was coincidence, who knows? The best game was TCU-Boise State, which at least turned on a fake punt but the rest of the games were really duds. Here’s a stat for you: In five games there were three lead changes: Oregon briefly taking the lead on Ohio State before the Buckeyes took it back and pulled away and Alabama going ahead 7-6 in the championship game. Florida, Iowa and Boise State took the lead in their games and never trailed although TCU did tie Boise State at 10-10.
There were second tier bowl games that had that many lead changes in the last three minutes. In fact, the second tier bowls were great this year: Idaho’s 43-42 win over Bowling Green was spectacular; Arkansas’s overtime win over East Carolina was excruciating and so was Auburn thinking it had won three times after blowing a two touchdown lead before finally beating Northwestern in overtime. There were others: Central Michigan over Troy in overtime; Wyoming beating Fresno State, also in overtime.
Here’s one thing I guarantee: If you had a playoff, if every game played was a step towards a championship, you would have far fewer dud games and more great ones because there would be no doubt that everyone involved was playing for something.
Which reminds me of one more thing: Bill also made the claim that as exciting as the Division 1-AA championship was, the attendance at home sites (except Montana) wasn’t very good. Two things: December football in cold weather places isn’t usually much of a draw (including in the NFL where no-shows abound in December) and, did he check the attendance at a LOT of the second tier bowls? And that’s with virtually every bowl forcing the schools to buy thousands of tickets and then give them away if they can’t sell them. If there were a seven game, eight-team playoff as I suggested there would not be one unsold ticket. Not one.
Sorry Bill, I love you but, as you might put it, gee whiz are you kidding me?
And finally a note on the polls: My colleagues in the AP poll completely ignored me (and others) and not only didn’t vote Boise State first, they voted them FOURTH. Craig James of ESPN voted Boise SEVENTH and TCU 14th! Who does he think he’s kidding? His partners, Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit were a little less blatant in their BCS sellout, voting Boise fourth. Still. Those guys should not be allowed to vote.
At least the AP publishes the individual votes. The coaches poll, run by (surprise) ESPN and USA Today, keeps the individual votes secret except for the final regular season poll. I’m really disappointed that my friends at USA Today continue to participate in this farce. That said, the coaches did better by Navy (26th) than the AP boys and girls (28th). Here’s a shocker: none of the ESPN-three voted for Navy. Maybe that’s why Mark Jones thinks the future marines at Navy are going to Quan-TEE-co and Bob Davie keeps talking about “chop blocks.” God forbid anyone should do any homework over there it might interfere with their ability to read 10,000 promos per telecast.
Okay, I promise not to rant on the BCS for a while. As long as Bill and his pals promise not to say anything they know isn’t true. My guess is they won’t be able to do that.