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Putting the 'B.S.' in the flawed BCS

James Kelley
senior sports writer
By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
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Dateline: late 1997/early 1998:

Fresh off a 28-16 win over Arizona State, the Arizona football team is invited to the inaugural Bowl, played in Arizona Stadium, because two Big 12 teams are selected for the three-game Bowl Alliance. The Wildcats go on to beat New Mexico despite starting their third-string quarterback because he is a senior.

Meanwhile, the Bowl Alliance - the Fiesta, Sugar and Orange Bowls - picks Tennessee and Nebraska in their "National Championship," while Michigan, No. 1 in both polls, plays Washington State in the Rose Bowl. The Wolverines win and take the AP title, but in the Coaches' poll, the Huskers win the national title because their head coach, Tom Osborne, is retiring.

Despite a huge lead in the media poll, Michigan loses in the coaches' poll by four points, when a couple coaches voted the Wolverines No. 3 or No. 4.

For the third time in the '90s, there is a split national title. My, how far we have come.

Oh, wait.

Fast-forward to Dec. 7, 2003: A date that, for the Bowl Championship Series, will live in infamy - well, one of their many infamous dates, at least. The BCS, which coincidently enough went into effect after that last split, picks the No. 2 and No. 3 teams to play for No. 1.

Maybe because Arizona (whose strength of schedule, according to the NCAA, was No. 6) brought down the strength of schedules of both USC and LSU, there is another year in which the BCS is actually a series of championship games - though it is more likely there will be two champs, as just USC and the Sugar Bowl winner need to win. There is even talk that Michigan could win a piece of the title.

Or maybe because Arizona hired away Oklahoma's defensive coordinator, the Sooners played like wild kittens against Kansas State and further complicated things.

Nah, it had to be those $#%&ing computers.

USC's No. 1 ranking is perpetually followed by "in the human polls" - as if it is part of the Trojans' classical epitaph - and there is a reason.

Computers are just plain stupid and weighed way too much in the BS - I mean, BCS. They don't take into account a home win versus road win, counted OU getting gangbanged in the Big 12 title game as much as USC's multi-OT loss to Cal in September and don't realize how tough it is to beat a team twice - things that humans realize.

In the oft-made-fun-of New York Times poll (How do they have a poll? This is not bitching about the Knicks or Giants. This is college sports), Oklahoma is ranked below a Texas team it beat, 65-13 on a neutral field. The best line was from Woody Paige on ESPN's "Around the Horn," when he said that Jayson Blair, the Times guy who made up stories, stopped writing stories for the Times and started doing their computer poll, during one of the NYT poll's previous embarrassments.

Am I wrong in being annoyed that unreliable computers decide which football teams play for the title? The day they make a computer that actually works as well as seemingly any other modern invention is the day the UA gets to the Rose Bowl. No, wait; that's plausible. How about the day ASU gets to the Final Four?

Humankind apparently is entering the phase where we must battle those damn dirty machines a tad early. Why do you think The Terminator is being shown so many times on TV recently?

The list of screwed teams has grown from K-State, UCLA and Arizona in 1998, Washington and Miami in 2000 and Oregon in 2001 to yet another Pac-10 team.

Another flaw of the BCS is the strength of schedule. When 2-10 Arizona highlights LSU's non-conference schedule (the Tigers also played Louisana Monroe, Lousiana Tech and Western Illinois) and yet, have a higher SOS than USC, something is wrong - even after winning the SEC title game.

The BCS is so stupid and perpetually underrates the Pac-10. The fact that the "Conference of Champions" beats itself up and has the balls to play better teams than Western Illinois (normally, we put the team's nickname on second reference but if you knew there was a Western Illinois before all this, then you need to get out more) hurts itself. Why?

This system is not like getting inaugurated when you lose the popular vote; it is like becoming president by some backroom straw poll.

The BCS is such a mess - fatally flawed, in fact - that a worse situation is likely to come up before the contract ends. I don't think it will be such a stretch to think that both of the top two teams in the real polls will be out of the "National Championship" soon.

If the BCS were an animal, it would have been put out of its misery long ago. Every year, some part of it has to be fixed.

Quite simply, the only time it works, it is real lucky.

I was always a fan of the bowls and their traditions, but it appears the BCS may just have killed the bowls, and the NCAA may have to go to a playoff system.

Stay tuned...

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