BCS represents college football’s ongoing scandal
By John Feinstein,
Amid the morass of college football scandals that have unfolded in recent months, there is one man who loves the sport who has benefitted greatly from the ongoing debacles at Ohio State and Miami and North Carolina and USC.
Hancock is the genial executive director of the so-called Bowl Championship Series, which is the ongoing scandal in college football that is still being perpetrated on players, coaches and fans alike much the same way reality TV continues to be a pox that simply won’t go away.
This fall, Hancock’s bosses — the BCS presidents — have conspired to keep the wolves away from his door. First, many of them have allowed their athletic programs to run completely amok. The two people who symbolize what the BCS stands for are, without question, Miami President Donna Shalala, who did everything but rename her school “Shapiro U” while currently jailed booster Nevin Shapiro was lavishing money on her and the one-time “U,” and, of course, Ohio State President Gordon Gee, whose two trademarks are his bowtie and his foot planted firmly inside his mouth.
It was Gee who made himself the Neville Chamberlain of college athletics last spring when he was asked if he would consider firing Jim Tressel as football coach and he replied with a straight face, “Fire him? I just hope he doesn’t fire me.”
The shame of it is that Tressel didn’t stay at Ohio State long enough to get around to firing Gee before Tressel left in disgrace. Of course, the NCAA, led by its top stooge, President Mark Emmert, has been so busy calling meetings and being shocked to learn that cheating is going on that it has yet to take any action against anyone — and will probably come down with a really hard wrist slap when the time finally comes.
Instead it has been left to Roger Goodell, who at last glance was running the NFL, to impose any discipline on Tressel and Terrelle Pryor, his oft-tattooed quarterback. Goodell suspended both for five games when they fled Ohio State for jobs in the NFL.
Maybe Goodell can do something about the BCS. You can bet that Emmert won’t at any point in this lifetime. All of which brings us back to Hancock and the BCS.
If it is fall and the leaves are turning it must be time for the BCS apologists to begin to justify the inevitable championship game matchup that won’t involve anyone from a non-BCS Conference. The Indianapolis Colts have a better chance of playing in the so-called championship game than Boise State.
If you want to watch a Sunday night comedy that will split your sides without a laugh track, tune in the next few weeks to the unveiling of the weekly BCS standings on ESPN.
LSU and Alabama play in two weeks and Oklahoma State and Kansas State play one another next month too. That will leave no more than six unbeatens — four from BCS conferences. What Hancock and cohorts would like to see happen is for two of those four to still be standing on Dec. 4 so the BCS can pat Boise on the head (again) and say: “Nice job, little Broncos. Now go to your room and play so the adults can talk.” In Boise’s case its room will probably take the form of a bowl game against the Big East champion — which will be a team good enough to finish about fourth in the Mountain West. Maybe.
If Boise wins out it will be the fourth time in six seasons it has finished the regular season unbeaten with no chance to play for a national championship. Oh, sure, that’s fair.
The next few Sunday nights will be all about debunking Boise. In fact, ESPN may start a brand-new network: ESPN-DB (Debunk Boise). Its major sponsor will be the BCS. As for Houston, it has one potential stumbling block left (SMU) and won’t be ranked high enough to even be considered for a secondary BCS bowl.
Already last week, the so-called experts were earnestly noting that Boise State was going to start slipping in the rankings because of its schedule. Oh sure, the ACC is full of powerhouses isn’t it? Clemson’s toughest remaining game is this week at Georgia Tech, a team that has been exposed the last two weeks by Virginia and Miami. If the Tigers win out — South Carolina without Marcus Lattimore is a little bit like the Colts without Peyton Manning — they would need to beat a Virginia Tech team in the ACC championship game that they embarrassed a couple of weeks ago.
Stanford’s schedule is a little bit tougher — maybe. It must win at USC on Saturday and then faces its one true test at home against Oregon on Nov. 12. There’s still Notre Dame in the season finale, but that’s also at home. The Fighting Irish will be grittily battling for a bid to the Champs Sports Bowl, so you know they’ll be ready to play that night.
The LSU-Alabama winner will go — and should go — to the championship game. Oklahoma State still has to beat Kansas State and Oklahoma. The nightmare scenario for Hancock is four BCS unbeatens, which is still possible. More likely there will be two, if only because the BCS presidents do have direct connections to the devil, who usually helps make things work out for them.
So, figure the LSU-Alabama winner takes on Stanford or Clemson for the national championship. If both those teams are undefeated Stanford will get the nod (Andrew Luck means better TV ratings) and most of South Carolina’s politicians will demand hearings into the BCS.
Which would be a good thing.
Of course, there is always the possibility that Hancock and the BCS will get lucky and another scandal will break out or, just as likely, Gee will start talking again.
Hancock, who can find beauty in a New Jersey Turnpike rest stop, remains upbeat about everything. In an e-mail on Sunday he wrote: “I do regret that people are talking so much about sports politics instead of athletes. Good grief, the bad news has touched maybe 10 schools out of, what is it now, 1,200 schools. So, 99 percent are doing things right. I know, I know, dog bites man.”
For the record, Hancock really does use the term good grief. And there are 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the place from which all money and evil flows. When it comes to the BCS, though, Hancock’s got it absolutely right.
For more by the author, visit his blog at www.feinsteinonthebrink.com.