By John Feinstein
Monday, June 29, 2009 1:19 PM
The latest example of the hypocrisy of the Bowl Championship Series came last week, when the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee met to consider a proposal made by the Mountain West Conference for an eight-team playoff, the kind of championship tournament the NCAA stages for every other sport (including football, at every level except division I-A).
After summarily rejecting the proposal, the oversight committee sent forth Oregon President David Frohnmayer to dispense with the usual lies.
First, Frohnmayer claimed the proposal had been given serious consideration. And surely the Yankees have given serious consideration to cutting their payroll in half in the interest of bringing parity to baseball.
Then he went into the BCS presidents' spiel about there being nothing wrong with the BCS -- sort of like when your stockbroker tells you your portfolio is doing just fine even if it's down 70 percent -- and then becoming self-righteous about their position.
Guys such as Frohnmayer -- who is really no different than the rest of his BCS cronies -- really believe they can throw out any statement they want and they will go unchallenged because they have a bunch of degrees on their office walls. That's why, even though complaints about the BCS are getting nearly as weary as the entity itself, the topic must continually be revisited.
After a pompous, arrogant and obnoxious pummeling of the "pundits and broadcasters" who have had the nerve to criticize the BCS -- does President Obama fall under the category of pundit or broadcaster? -- Frohnmayer claimed there were two "fatal" flaws in the arguments for a playoff. In doing so, he referred to those proposing an "NFL-style" playoff system in a blatant attempt to link a playoff with professionalizing college football. Excuse me, but what would be wrong with the "style" of the division I-AA, II or III playoff systems? They all work just fine.
The first of Frohnmayer's "fatal" flaws was the claim that the pundits and broadcasters (and presidents of the United States) were completely ignoring the academic calendar. Seriously? Let's walk through this one more time: A college football tournament, whether it was the proposed eight teams or 12 or even 16 would require far less missed class time than the NCAA basketball tournament does in March. Most, if not all, of the games could be played in January, virtually all of them between semesters. Teams would miss less class time during the tournament than they miss during the regular season. Final words to Frohnmayer and the other 66 BCS presidents on this issue: Shut up.
To bring up academics as a reason for not having a tournament is patently dishonest on every level. Let's forget the fact that the significant percentage of football players at national championship contenders will never graduate. Let's pretend that it matters -- and, to be fair, it does matter to some players. Having a playoff will not for one second affect their chances of graduating if that is one of their goals.
The second of Frohnmayer's fatal flaws was the "complete lack of a business plan." Please. A business plan would take about 15 minutes to concoct, and it could be put together by my daughter's fifth-grade class. The TV networks would fall all over themselves to get the contract, or contracts. The potential burden of fans having to travel for three weeks -- if you went with 12 or 16 teams, it would make sense to play first-round games at home sites -- doesn't seem to be a problem for fans whose teams make the Final Four. If a real national championship game was played next year in the Rose Bowl, does anyone think there would be an unsold ticket?
One more nugget from Frohnmayer: In an attempt to be funny, he commented that, as successful as the BCS has been, he hadn't heard from fans at Auburn and his own school about being left out of past national championship games.
How about Utah, David?
Remember Utah, the team that went undefeated last season and thoroughly thrashed BCS power Alabama in the Sugar Bowl? How about Boise State going undefeated this past season and not even playing in a BCS bowl? How about Boise State's 2006 team, which won one of the great games in history against Oklahoma (they're in the BCS, right?) in the Fiesta Bowl, that also wasn't allowed to compete for a national championship?
Finally, there's the now well-worn claim that college football has the "most meaningful" regular season in sports. Again, this is complete hyperbolic trash. First, how can you call a regular season meaningful when the decisions on who will play where in the postseason are made by computers and frequently biased voters. The American Football Coaches Association's recent decision to keep secret coaches' ballots in the final poll screams deceit. All polls in all sports -- including Hall of Fame ballots -- should be made public. Are the BCS apologists trying to say that the college basketball regular season has no meaning? Every game played the last three weeks of the season is analyzed, re-analyzed and broken down to determine how it will affect seeding, the bubble and who is in and who is out.
You want meaning in a regular season? Give the first four teams in a 12-team playoff a bye. Give the next four a first-round home game. Let the last four scramble to avoid playing in the New Mexico Bowl.
Of course, Frohnmayer and his partners don't care about or want to hear any of these arguments. That's because they don't believe any of what they're saying either. They just know they have a system they're comfortable with, one that ensures that Utah or Boise State won't ever compete for a national championship. They care about power, and they care about money.
They don't care about the truth. They certainly don't care about their student-athletes. And they certainly don't care about any opinions other than their own.