Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Bowl Season leaves much to be desired.

I hate the bowls. They've played a few already and they all featured fair to middling teams nobody really cares about, so I haven't been paying attention. Seriously, aside from people who go to Akron, does anybody really care that the Zips were bowl eligible?

I'm not even excited about the bowls coming up this weekend. I feel like I'm being cheated. Texas and USC will play for the National Championship thnaks in large part to inferior conference competition. Texas narrowly escaped losing to an Ohio State team that was not firing on all cylinders and USC got extremely lucky against a Notre Dame squad that isn't as good as people think AND they squeaked past a Fresno State team that hasn't exactly set the world on fire this year. I doubt either team would have stayed unbeaten in a tough conference like the ACC or the Big 10. The Big 12 is a joke and the Pac 10 would be competitive if those coaches remembered to that you're supposed to actually play defense, not just send 11 guys on the field. Had USC been forced to play teams like Michigan and Penn State they might have found themselves on the outside of the BCS looking in and Texas might have struggled with the defenses exhibited by the likes of Miami and Virginia Tech.

That's not to say that Texas and USC aren't good teams. They did win every game after all, but only an idiot would tell you that the rest of the teams in the top five of the BCS poll wouldn't have a chance to beat them. Penn State has a brutal defense and enough firepower on offense to offset any points USC or Texas might score, and Ohio State is playing offense on a level that Texas didn't see earlier this year. Calling the Rose Bowl the Championship game is dismissing the rest of the field as also rans. I'm not so sure.

If the NFL practiced this method of selecting a champion we would already know that this year's Superbowl would feature the Colts and the Seahawks. While the smart money is on those two teams, I doubt anybody would be surprised to see Chicago and New England playing for the title later this winter. In fact, the NFL has proven that it is unwise to put so much stock in regular season performances. Teams might start out with a few injuries or maybe some young players that need a few games to develop and hit their stride late. A few weeks ago most people had the New England Patriots regrouping for next year, now they look like a legitmate contender.

The team with the best record at the end of the year might not be playing the best football. Florida State proved that when they won their conference title game. The Seminoles struggled in the middle of the season, but if the NCAA had a playoff system I doubt there are too many coaches that would want to be playing them right now. Their midseason swoon was thanks in large part to injuries and young players. The team struggled but made late season adjustments and managed to gain a BCS berth. Do you really believe they wouldn't be able to find enough firepower to upset Texas or USC? Please.

The only solution is playoffs. Idiots like ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit like to talk about the beaury of the 12 game playoff that is the current system, but to hear them tell it you'd think that teams wouldn't bother playing hard until mid season if the NCAA went with a legitimate post season format. That's the kind of thing somebody says when his paycheck is signed by the BCS. It's bogus.

Playoffs would make the regular season more interesting because good teams would stop scheduling patsies and take on real challenges. Earlier this year LSU played a Division 1-AA team to notch a win. Beating up a AA team is fine if you're Indiana and you know that your conference is going to beat the snot out of you, but LSU is supposed to be a tough program. AA? Right. And teams would have something to play for after a tough loss or two. As it stands right now coaches and teams get caught up in their rankings and lose their focus. That deprives the fan of high quality football.

The NCAA can't make a sound argument against playoffs because they don't want to admit it's all about money. Look at the list of sponsors and tell me it's not. With the other divisions all playing for a legitmate championship, there is no reason the NCAA couldn't implement a playoff schedule for D1A. They simply choose not to in the interest of money. Big money.

That's why I won't be watching. Why support a system that cheats the fans and the players out of a legitmate playoff system? When the ratings fall and the money dries up the NCAA will give us what we want. As long as fans keep pumping money into a corrupt system things will never change.