The BCS has worked again.
Oregon will meet Auburn for the “National Championship” - in a matchup that would have never happened in the “old days” where the Ducks would be locked into the Rose Bowl, and the Tigers to the Sugar.
What a great system. If only the NFL would consider a version of their own. Too bad they are stuck with that antiquated thing called a “playoff.”
In other news, Villanova will meet Appalachian State in the FCS (or as I still insist on calling them, Division 1-AA) playoffs next week. These are the schools a bit more committed to true student-athlete competition, where a running back might end up being your doctor or airline pilot.
They seem to do okay playing a structured, organized, actual playoff. Hmm.
The reasons for not having the “big boys” of college football compete in an actual playoff, are like a Whitman's Sampler of weak excuses.
A playoff would hurt academics.
A playoff would still not be perfect.
A playoff would kill all the other bowls.
A playoff would hyper-professionalize the sport.
There are plenty of good rebuttals to all of these (a. it won't b. nobody said it had to be perfect c. with 35 bowls now, we need some herd thinning), but why bother. The BCS was not founded on logic. It was founded on money and exclusion. Our money, for our schools. Everybody else, piss off.
About the only argument that made any sense to me, was that a true NFL-style playoff format, would make already desperate football programs and athletic departments, even more desperate to cut academic and admissions corners in seach of wins and losses.
Because as it stands, there is immense pressure to not just have a winning season, but to have a winning season tainted by no more than (gasp!) two losses – most.
Believe it or not, but a 9-3 season can actually land some coaches, at some programs, in deep water.
Which of course, is insane.
The expectations of college football fan bases, administrations, and athletic directors are easily the most delusional in all of sports. Usually, because a school has a robust DVD collection of glory days teams, and glory days coaches, they fully expect that the natural ebb and flow of sporting success and failure will never afflict them.
These fan bases always fail to account for the fact that the glory days of their programs were forged in a non-cable-TV world, without the internet or recruiting videos on YouTube, and amidst of a sea of maybe just 30-40 decent programs around the country.
The pool of Division 1 programs is getting deeper every year, and upstart mid-majors like Boise State and TCU have figured out a formula for success that is driving the Michigans, Nebraskas, and Miamis crazy.
So imagine a playoff bound world, where a coach like Jim Tressel might put his Buckeyes into the precious 4 or 8 team smash-em-up every year – BUT then loses in the first round every time!
The radio chatter calling him a playoff bum, and the alumni pressure to get a coach who can “finish the job” will be immense.
This world, would really make the Buckeyes, Gators, Longhorns and others essentially pro teams.
And the pressure to cheat would get cranked up to 11.
So I get that argument against a playoff. It is the only one that resonates and makes sense with me.
But I believe that argument just suffered a mortal wound last week, when the NCAA decided to look the other way on Cam Newton's “pay-for-play” scandal.
The NCAA now wants us all to actively believe in fairy tales. Because the fairytale they spin in the Newton saga goes something like this.
Cam's father, completely on his own, began shopping his son to SEC schools for upwards of $180,000. When Mississippi State turned down this offer, and reported Newton to the NCAA, then Newton ended up at Auburn.
The fairy tale they are peddling, is that Newton's dad, a preacher, suddenly “found God” and no longer asked Auburn or anybody else for money. That rebuffed by MSU, preacher “Creflo” Newton just decided to drop the whole “my son is an athletic prostitute and I am his pimp” routine altogether.
Yep, that's about it.
Nobody disputes Creflo asked MSU for hard, cold, cash. They just can't “prove” that Auburn either asked, gave, or even knew about the cash part.
To which I ask: If “proof” of Auburn's knowledge or involvement in pay-for-play existed, what form exactly would it take?
A notarized admission of guilt? Are we at the point where only canceled, traceable bank checks count as “proof.”
How do you “prove” Gene Chizik knew nothing? He's like Sgt. Shultz in Hogan's Heros.
Proof of knowing Cam and Creflo wanted money, is only slightly harder to prove than love.
Creflo Newton suddenly going from a modern day collegiate Jesse James playing stick-em-up, to a square and honest broker of his son's future college team is a miracle conversion that defies belief.
So back to the whole fear of a playoff “professionalizing” the game thing.
Can we just be done with that one now, too? I mean really. I had to watch a smiling, laptop stealing, honor code flunking, money seeking quarterback run around and dominate during a SEC championship game sponsored by a major soda company.
I wanted to feel good for Auburn, since Alabama has been crapping on them for some time now. I want to feel good for Newton, whose abilities are indeed breathtaking and undeniable.
But somehow I can't feel good.
I just feel slimy.