Several weeks ago, Bill Hancock, the executive director of The Bogus Championship Series, spent a couple of days in Washington on a handshake tour of Capitol Hill and various media outlets in a valiant attempt to defend the indefensible organization he represents.
During a visit to The Washington Post, Hancock rolled out the BCS’s latest bit of rhetoric. “College football is the only sport that gives the athletes the chance to end the season by having a party,” he said. “That’s what the bowls are, a chance to go to a nice place, experience it and have a party.”
Hancock’s point appeared to be this: Because only one of the 36 postseason college football games is played with anything at stake, a system that allows teams to get to see the sights of places like Shreveport, La.; Mobile, Ala.; and Detroit is surely worth saving — regardless of whether there’s any fairness involved.
Given the results of this past weekend in college football, heck, Hancock might be right. Let’s just throw a bunch of parties and forget the football altogether, because there is absolutely no way that selecting just two teams to play for the national championship can be done fairly or correctly.
As of this minute, LSU clearly belongs in the championship game. Of course, the Tigers could lose to Arkansas on Friday or to Georgia in the SEC championship game and then they would fall back into the pack with everyone else.
Who is everyone else? Take your pick from Alabama, Stanford, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Boise State and Virginia Tech — all one-loss teams. You should also throw Houston into the mix, if only because in any other sport it would be impossible NOT to include an undefeated team in a real competition for a real championship.
Perhaps the BCS can hire NBA Commissioner David Stern, who doesn’t have anything better to do these days, to announce the winner of the lottery it will hold on Dec. 4 to pick LSU’s opponent or, if the Tigers lose, to pick the two lucky teams whose ping-pong balls float to the top of the bowl.
That’s all this is now: a lottery, followed by a bunch of parties and hours and hours of bad television in which we’re told that the BCS is a fair system and, gee, it’s great the regular season means so much.
The only thing more amusing than the specter of the apologists trying to tell us all is well with the method by which the teams are selected to play for the championship will be those same apologists congratulating whoever emerges from the Big East to play in one of the other BCS games. Towson, which won the Colonial Athletic Association title Saturday in one of the great turnarounds in football history (the Tigers were 1-10 a year ago) is at least as deserving of a BCS bid as anyone in the Big East.
Towson will have to settle for a spot in a real competition — the NCAA Football Championship Series playoffs — that begin next weekend.
The ACC isn’t a heck of a lot better than the Big East. Virginia Tech is 10-1 but has beaten exactly no one after playing a weak nonconference schedule and getting past a Georgia Tech team that is about as consistent as the Washington Capitals these days. The Hokies spit the bit at home against Clemson, which is now in its annual November swoon, and beating the paper Tigers in the ACC title game in two weeks isn’t going to get that stain out of their resume.
Of course the Hokies aren’t guaranteed that second shot against Clemson just yet. In a truly remarkable story, they will have to go to Charlottesville on Saturday and beat Virginia to win whatever division of the ACC the two teams play in. (Is that Legends and Leaders? No wait, that’s the league with the trophy named after Joe Paterno. No wait, that’s not right either. Someone call ACC Commissioner John Swofford. He might know.)
After his team’s amazing 14-13 escape in Tallahassee, Virginia Coach Mike London is not only the clear-cut ACC coach of the year, he should get some consideration for national coach of the year. The Cavaliers are now a stunning 8-3 after winning for the first time ever at Florida State on Saturday night.
Virginia Tech has beaten Virginia in the Commonwealth Cup game 11 of the last 12 years and will certainly be favored in Scott Stadium. But after going 8-17 in Al Groh’s last two seasons and 4-8 in London’s first season a year ago, the fact that this game has any meaning at all is a big deal for Virginia.
And, regardless of the outcome, when the game is over, everyone can go have a party. Because, as everyone knows, that’s what college football is all about.
The actual competition and the crowning of a real champion can wait until basketball season.
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