Skip to comments.BULL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES - NCAA Division 1-A Football is Sports' Biggest Fraud
Posted on 01/09/2007 2:27:09 AM PST by L.N. Smithee
It's the major college football conferences' morbid fear of the equity the nation embraces and celebrates every March that makes NCAA Div 1-A football the biggest fraud in American sports. College basketball fans fondly remember the Davids that slew the Goliaths, even though most of those teams didn't win it all; Valparaiso, Hampton, Gonzaga (now recognized as a perennial power), George Mason, an 11th-regional seed that defeated TWO 1-seeds to make it to the Final Four last year, and Villanova, which did defeat mighty Georgetown (led by Patrick Ewing) to win a real national championship. Villanova won ON THE COURT IN A REAL TOURNAMENT, not on some stupid, labyrinthian, deliberately obtuse amalgam of computer data, regional bias, and politics (Urban Meyer this year, Mack Brown in 2004).
If you could read the minds of the Presidents and ADs of the football factory schools, they are probably ruing the day they allowed Boise State (under pressure) to play a BCS bowl instead of simply disrespectfully relegating the Mountain West champion to the Pioneer Purevision Las Vegas Bowl, which is the template. Don't argue with me about that, just check the NCAA football website. It's there in black-and-white; under normal circumstances, the Mountain West champion plays the college that finished fourth in the Pac-10. That's a fair fight, right? Ha! The Mountain West champion defeated the Big 12 champion!
Here's the dirty little secret the NCAA won't discuss: Under the current system, of the 112 Division 1-A college teams, 52 of them can't possibly win a national championship no matter what. All teams in the Mountain West, MAC, WAC, Conference USA, and the Sun Belt conferences are just playing for the chance to play in a bowl against one of the runners-up in the monolithic conferences: the SEC, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pac-10, the Big East, the ACC or Notre Dame, the 1000 lb. gorilla that sleeps anywhere it wants. (Think the Irish really deserved to be in a BCS bowl this year? What a joke.) The so-called National Championship game is a private party for the elite. No George Masons, no Villanovas. There are guards at the gate to make sure Cinderella won't crash the ball.
The stupidest thing about 1-A grid is that if there was a REAL tournament like there is for every other level of college football, the Road to the National Championship would rival the Super Bowl. Don't buy the nonsense about how a playoff would hurt the schools financially. It's a crock. According to a New York Times story on December 31, 2006 (italics mine):
There is near-paralysis in the fatcat conferences regarding progress toward a playoff. The article goes on to say the Big Ten and Pac-10 schools' presidents are against a playoff because it might permanently do away with their traditional places in the Rose Bowl. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Oregon University president Dave Frohnmayer said the Big and Pac 10s "would prefer to return to the old bowl system -- which had no mechanism for matching No. 1 vs. No. 2 -- rather than have a playoff." It's not surprising that the Big 10 honcho wouldn't be adaptable to change. After all, this is the conference that kept the name "Big Ten" after an eleventh college joined it. Jeez Louise, even Andy Katzenmoyer can count to eleven, but the college presidents can't?!
The bowl system is not a financial boon, compared with the potential yield of a playoff. Although the bowls have poured hundreds of millions into college coffers, teams have turned down multibillion-dollar offers for a tournament-style postseason. In the most recent television negotiation, the Plus One model [that is, holding the National Championship game after the five BCS bowls, which would determine the participants] would have been worth an extra $40 million.
The college presidents, by the way, know they're full of it. But because they are who they are -- the heads of institute of higher learning -- they get away with not giving real flesh-and-blood reasons why they won't agree to a football tournament while having no complaints about the fact that their schools participate in every other NCAA tournament. Especially outrageous is the notion that Division 1-A athletes would be academically disadvantaged by a playoff, missing study time and exams in that month in-between the conference season and the December and January bowls. Dispensing with this is easy. For a moment, forget the fact that many of the best teams are made up of scholarship players that limped out of high school and/or junior college GPA-wise (hello again, Mr. Katzenmoyer); some of those young men have a shot at making a living in the NFL playing for more money than a valedictorian might dream about (whether of not they have the smarts to manage the money is another issue entirely). On the other hand, what about the guys at schools like Appalachian State, who won the Division 1-AA title ON THE FIELD? Some of them might make the cut at a pro camp, like Jerry Rice from Mississippi Valley State, Walter Payton from Jackson State, or Tony Romo from Eastern Illinois. But when you get down to Division II and III schools, only once in a blue moon does anyone emerge from the playing field to NFL glory. Once those fellows have played their last game for their alma maters, its time to go to work doing something that aint football. Those guys need to study more than the 1-A guys, right? And yet, their institutions still decide whos the best on the gridiron.
What's really amusing, though, is going to the BCS website, which is an exercise in defensiveness. Check out the links in the upper right corner, which are a compilation of articles saying something -- anything -- good about the current BCS system. Usually, the links are to articles that have nothing to do with fairness, and more to do with the pageantry of the events and how half of a couple dozen teams get to finish their season dancing on the turf, even if a victory only means the team was saved from a .500 season (or, in the case of Florida State, a losing season). Never mind the fraudulent, dishonest, corruptible nature of determining a championship game by polls. It's all about the chillllldren.
The funniest of the defenses linked on the BCS website was published in the San Jose Mercury News on November 30, before the USC-UCLA game that knocked the Trojans out of the #2 spot. Written by Jon Wilner, it is entitled BCS keeps a bracket away another year; System has worked, but there remain a few questions. Bold is mine:
Oh, heaven forbid.
Three days from Bowl Championship Series selection day, and the biggest winner is not top-ranked Ohio State, surging USC or hanging-with-the-big-boys Boise State.
The biggest winner is the system. It's working -- again.
It delivered a pulsating November.
If USC beats UCLA on Saturday, the system will deliver the national-title matchup most of the nation wants: Ohio State vs. USC. And if USC loses, it will deliver Ohio State-Michigan, which might not be perfect but is hardly the doomsday scenario needed to push the lords of college football closer to a playoff.
As we know now, USC lost, and we DIDNT get Ohio State-Michigan, we got Ohio State-Florida. Heres how Wilner characterized Floridas shot at the title game as he was touting how well the BCS was working:
Oops. USC lost outright. And Michigan didnt even play, but some voters in the poll decided that Florida, which won the SEC title game, somehow became better than the Wolverines, who only lost to the reigning #1, overnight. Florida poll-vaulted all the way to #2 despite being bogged down at #4 in all three determining factors.
In anticipation of low-grade controversy, here's a selection day primer:
Is USC in the title game?
According to BCS analyst Jerry Palm, it's highly unlikely the Trojans would fall from the No. 2 spot if they win Saturday. They hold a 0.01 advantage over Michigan in the computers, a margin that could expand with a victory but certainly won't shrink, and also lead Michigan by 97 points in the Harris poll and by 46 points in the coaches' poll.
``Half the voters are going to have to change their mind between USC and Michigan,'' Palm said. ``That's not realistic unless USC wins on a bad call -- that's what would have to happen.'' No. 4 Florida, which plays Arkansas in the SEC title game, has even more ground to cover: 183 points in the Harris poll, 86 points in the coaches' poll, plus a deficit in the computers.
One of the mysteriously selected Harris Poll voters, former Washington State coach Jim Walden, actually voted the Gators #1 over Ohio State, saying he didnt think the Buckeyes could survive Floridas schedule. Oh, yeah, the schedule. It doesnt matter if you win all the games set before you, someone with a vote can still think to himself, I don't care if they won all their games, that's not good enough! If you dont grasp the lunacy of this stance, consider if the batting champion in baseball was determined not simply by the percentage of at-bats resulted in hits, but also by the ERA of the pitchers that the batter faced. If you think that makes sense, you're beyond help.
Heres what Wilner wrote about Notre Dame, who don't need no steenking conference:
While Wilner was sure the Dame would be in one of the signature bowl games even if they were barely in the Top 15, this is what he had to write about the only other undefeated team in the nation:
Is Notre Dame in the BCS?
The Irish are No. 10 in the latest standings and have completed their regular season. As long as they're in the top 14 on Sunday -- bet the college fund -- they will receive an at-large berth to the Rose Bowl or the Sugar Bowl.
The way that Boise State was held at arms length shows that sometimes money and you-know-what talk at the same time.
Where's Boise State headed?
The Fiesta Bowl, in Tempe, Ariz., makes the most sense geographically. Plus -- there isn't a polite way to say this -- no one else really wants the Broncos. They're a nice story, but they aren't much of a TV draw and probably won't sell many tickets beyond the Idaho state line.
The Rose, which has the first two picks of teams in the at-large pool, won't take the Broncos. The Sugar, which picks third, won't take them, and the Orange, picking fourth, doesn't want them.
That leaves the Fiesta, where the Broncos will face the Big 12 champion (Nebraska or Oklahoma).
So the system that was working fell completely apart just days later. Now, remember, not only was this posted on the BCS site in its own defense, its still there! I guess they figure you might miss it if they remove it, or hope you'll just read the headline and not the actual story.
Now, Florida won the game tonight fair and square. Congratulations to them, they beat the odds and proved their doubters wrong. Who knows, maybe if there was a legitimate tournament, they would have defeated Boise State to prove they were the best team. But they didnt, and we'll never know, just like they don't want us to know -- they just say, "Take our word for it," and that's supposed to be good enough. Well, it's not good enough for me, and I know I'm not alone.
As far I am concerned, the Florida Gators' championship is as hollow as that crystal football that serves as the trophy. And it will continue to be the Empty-AA championship game until the dinosaurs who keep Division 1-A college football a two-tiered society that rewards mediocrity, intellectual dishonesty, and fundamental provincialism get over their love affair with archaic traditions that prevent the sport from fulfilling its potential as a national cause celebre.
Here's what else I have to say about this. Enjoy, or not.
I have done a ton of research about this topic that was leading up to this thread, but didn't plan on doing it tonight/this morning. I got so ticked at the dismissal of Boise State tonight I just laid it out. It's almost 3 am on the West Coast, and I knew I would make a couple of mistakes, and hoped they wouldn't be big ones.
For the record: Under the current system, of the 119 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (sheesh!) college teams, 52 of them can't possibly win a national championship no matter what.
Maddoggit, that was a big one.
Nevertheless, the WAC champ doesn't have a shot at a BCS bowl under normal conditions either -- its predetermined place in the bowl system is the MPC Computer Bowl in Boise.
Time to get rid of the BCS and go back to ending the season on New Years's Day.
Texas Tech (8-5) celebrated like they won the Super Bowl after defeating Minnesota (6-7). Yes, they overcame a huge second half deficit. But they fell behind to a team that was 6-6 overall 3-5 in their own conference.
That's a Bowl Game?
The ratings for the bowl games leading up to New Year's Day are miniscule. There is more money to be had in a playoff system because the games would actually mean something leading up to the championship game. The Times article said the current TV contract would have added another $40 million if they just added one more game in a playoff format. The teams with 7-4 or 6-5 records might be out in the cold for the real prize, but the lump sum of money that is distributed to all the conferences would be greater.
The NCAA tournament explosion hasn't killed the NIT tournament. It's still around, and you could keep the Eat-at-Joe's bowls around too. The schools like Ohio U. and Southern Miss. playing the other day to the delight of only their fans can still have their little games, and one of them can dance on the turf afterwards. A real legitimate system shouldn't be held up to protect the significance of the GMAC Bowl (more like the WGAD bowl).
I agree. As a Pac-10 fan there is no greater reward than the Rose Bowl. I couldn't have been more prouder when my Alma Mater went with a 7-4 record in 1978.
bump for later.
Makes sense to me.
It makes perfect sense - therefore it will never happen.
LOL... Too true!
No quick solution, but certainly all conferences should have their own championship game. It's what propelled the Gators to the national championship game and the extra week of play was obvious in the 41-14 trounce of #1 undefeated Ohio State.
So....trade all these bowl games and travel and sponsership and tv for a national championship.......which will last till next year?......I don thin so!
Can you believe that?! He ACTUALLY thought the Gators were BETTER than the Buckeyes?!!! How ridiculous is THAT!!! Heh, heh, heh...
This is an off the cuff 'rant'? Wow Smithee - this is awesome. Two things really tick me off - Boise State ending up after their bowl game ranked 5th and Florida vaulting, as you said, to #2 just in time to play in the Championship game. IMO, the BCS criteria/stats did not support this move and there was no reason for Michigan to fall from #2. Now it turns out that Florida was indeed better than Ohio State and Michigan tanked - but only because they got the chance to PLAY THE GAMES! For the love of god, can we have a playoff?
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