Hypothetical matchups are the nexus of great debates in sports. Would the ’85 Bears have crushed the ’72 Dolphins? How would have a pre-incarcerated Muhammad Ali have fared against a pre-incarcerated Mike Tyson? If Isiah Thomas and Matt Millen traded places with their respective GM jobs, would either the Knicks or Lions really be any worse off?
These hypothetical debates are fun to engage in because they are just that: hypothetical. There’s no chance that any of these scenarios could ever happen. The defenders of the current BCS system, however, would have you believe that the fact that sports fans can engage in these types of debates every year is somehow a great thing for college football. All of the chatter on television, blogs, and websites this morning on the BCS picking Florida over Michigan as Ohio State’s opponent in the national championship game, in the eyes of the current system’s proponents, supposedly drives interest in the game.
Simply put, this is insane. For all of pitfalls in the modern sports world, the one positive attribute at the center of it all is that it’s the closest thing that we have in society to a true meritocracy. It doesn’t matter in sports whether you grew up rich or poor, went to a tiny junior college or an Ivy League university, or had any type of legacy or affirmative action preference. In sports, you either have the right combination of effort and talent to win or you don’t because it’s played out to an unambiguous result on the field – plain and simple.
Of course, the one exception to this notion is college football, where sportswriters with receding hairlines, coaches with clear conflicts of interest, and computers that make judgment calls without ever being able to witness a game control which teams get to play for the national championship. I’ve advocated a change to a playoff-bowl hybrid that would cause minimal disruption and climb over the financial and scheduling obstacles that are currently in place (it’s not perfect, but since the BCS schools would secede from the NCAA before adopting an NCAA Tournament-style playoff for football, I believe that my proposal is the next best thing), yet all that we hear from the university presidents and BCS backers are the same tired excuses that these ridiculous debates increase interest in college football. For every instance where the BCS lucks out by getting two undefeated teams at the end of the season, such as last year with Texas and USC, there are several times where there are multiple one-loss teams in the mix and it comes down to arbitrary factors to choose participants.
I’m just repeating the same argument that is circulating everywhere, but there are few things that I know of that are more idiotic than the powers-that-be in college football refusing to institute some type of playoff when the vast majority of fans are screaming for it and the schools would make tons of money off of it. I don’t want to sitting here a year from now engaging in the same pride-swallowing exercise of actually arguing for and defending a school such as the University of Michigan, yet something tells me I’m in for some deja vu in the future.