Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fixing Football: Chapter 1 (The Yearly BCS Nightmare)

Football - both college and pro - seems like the perfect product, but it has plenty of room for improvement. Over the last few weeks I've jotted down the stuff about football that drives me crazy and, of course, how I'd make it better. From minor rule changes to coaching strategies to the increase of fantasy football recognition, I'm here to help. So, starting today I'm going to unleash my Fixing Football series. Horny? You're welcome.

While I hate to kick this sucker off by stating the obvious, I'd be foolish to ignore the most topical story in football...

College football desperately needs a playoff.

I'll take it a step further...

College football desperately needs a 64-team tournament.

I used to argue with my dad every time he suggested a 64-team tournament; I was always an 8-or-16-team guy, but I've come around. Sure, a No. 16 seed could never win it all, and it'd be incredibly difficult for a No. 12 seed to advance to the Sweet 16, but so what? How's that any different than March Madness?

I cringe with every excuse made for the BCS, and I start throwing my nephew's Hot Wheels across the room whenever I hear how the current setup gives college football the most exciting regular season of all the major sports. Listen up: Who effing cares! Wouldn't you like to have the most exciting postseason of all the major sports?

If that doesn't make sense to you, think of it in terms of pornography: Would you ever hear a porn star claiming to be the best kisser in the industry?

Besides, the BCS rarely gets things right, anyway, and when it does it's usually a happy accident. Take this year, for instance: I'm positive that, on the third day of December, in the year 2008, Oklahoma is a better collegiate football team than Texas. I've watched a million games this year and Oklahoma's best is better than everybody else's best (except maybe Florida). That said, Texas is getting royally screwed. The Horns beat the Sooners on a neutral field, 45-35, and that's all that should matter right now. But that ain't the case. The Big 12 allowed the pollsters to decide and Oklahoma appears to be a lock for a BCS Championship game berth.

Is this really the way you want to determine a champion?

Regardless, aren't tournaments fun? College hoops doesn't always crown the best team, but I never hear anyone complaining.

The folks making up the anti-playoff community usually envision at least two problems that aren't really problems: The season being too long (but it would really only effect four teams) and something about academic schedules (as if the coaches care about the "student" in student-athlete).

You could start the season every year on the last Saturday in August, trim regular season schedules from 12 to 11 (or even 12 to 10 and force the Big Ten and Pac 10 to play conference championships), give every team one bye week and the season would finish before New Year's Day. Simple.

Isn't this a better plan than the ridiculous BCS? Wouldn't you rather see a 64-team field over a measly four teams competing? Think about this year: Who would be your 4-team field? Oklahoma (assuming they beat Mizzou, but what if they lose?), USC, the Florida-Bama winner and...Texas? What about Penn State? They won the Big Ten outright. And why should Alabama get penalized for losing late? The Bearcats won a BCS conference, but they're still not taken seriously on a national level and undefeated mid-majors Utah, Boise and Ball State would again be treated like dirt.

(And what about the Buckeyes, with a maturing Terrelle Pryor, a relatively healthy Chris Wells and a peaking defense?)

(Have you paid attention to Old Mississippi this year? They stumbled early before getting their act together. They won at Florida and suffered a four-point heartbreaker at Alabama. Their 31-13 victory at LSU was a one-sided affair from start to finish. I'm not so sure they're not one of the ten best teams in football)

(Georgia Tech doesn't have the talent to win six in a row, but they have the scheme to knock out a heavyweight or two.)

(I'd also like to point out TCU as a team nobody would want to face in the first three rounds. They murdered BYU, outplayed Utah but lost and didn't fold at Oklahoma, losing 35-10. Them boys is legit.)

But I digress...

Look, the three undefeated mid-majors might be dirt, but wouldn't you rather find that out by watching a neutral-site Sweet 16 game pitting Boise against, say...Oklahoma State? I would. First, because we get more football (always a plus), but also because intersectional matchups are a thing of the past. That matchup, on every level, would be interesting. And even though it would involve two teams who don't necessarily move the meter, I guarantee it would (a.) sell out in two seconds, and (b.) move the goddamn meter.

This is a football-crazed country, and there is absolutely no way a 64-team tournament wouldn't be bloody successful. Sure, there are probably a handful of kinks I've failed to recognize, but I'm sure the college educated gentlemen who comprise the NCAA could figure it out. Well, maybe not. But it doesn't mean I'm crazy, either.

Am I crazy?

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)