Bowl season is upon us so I am going to switch gears and talk football today. Alabama finished ahead of Oklahoma State in the polls and will get a rematch against LSU in the BCS championship game. Personally, I’m glad OSU didn’t jump ‘Bama in the polls because if they had, I would have had to hear from ‘Bama fans for the next eight months about how they never even had the chance to even play LSU this year. Oh wait…they did.
I’ll preface this by saying that my criticisms are with the BCS system, not Alabama. I think LSU and Alabama are the two best teams in the country. I think both would easily beat Oklahoma State. However, it’s not determined based solely on what I think and while I do think the bcs placed the two best teams in the NC game, to do so they had to counter many arguments they’ve made against a playoff system in previous years and contradict many previous bcs decisions. As an advocate of a playoff system and an opponent of the flawed bcs system, I’m glad BCS chose Alabama. It just shows the inconsistencies of the system and they can no longer bring up the argument “playoffs would make the regular season matter less!!! with bsc, every reg season game counts!!!”.
Each time a playoff system is brought up, BCS advocates will state that it would diminish the importance of the regular season and they will often claim that the regular season IS the playoffs for the BCS. I guess this year they forgot to mention that it is a double elimination playoff. By allowing Alabama to have a rematch against LSU, the BCS contradicts their strongest argument for keeping the BCS rather than implementing a playoff system. If BCS advocates are going to try to say “every game counts”, then they have to count the game where Alabama lost at home to LSU. ESPN analyst Rick Reilly brought up the fact that the BCS’s twitter handle is @everygamecounts (which he later suggests they change to “@EveryGameCountsUnlessAnSECTeamLoses”). For a system who names their twitter “everygamecounts” and below that has the tagline “best regular season in sports”, they are massive hypocrites for ignoring a regular season loss and granting Alabama a mulligan.
The reason Alabama gets the nod over the other 1-loss team, Oklahoma State, is because Alabama’s one loss is to a better team. And this does absolutely go in Alabama’s favor. Alabama lost at home to the number one team in the country, while Oklahoma State lost on the road to unranked Iowa State. But should it be solely about losses? Shouldn’t wins be a factor as well? After all Oklahoma State beat five top 25 teams and seven top 50 teams, while Alabama beat two top 25 teams and five top 50 teams. Oklahoma State also won their conference unlike Alabama. But despite the fact that Oklahoma State won their conference (why have conference championships at all if it is no factor in the NC game?), played the 10th hardest schedule (compared to Alabama’s 38th most difficult schedule) people overlooked all of this and made decisions based on losses instead. This also contradicts past BCS decisions.
In previous season, undefeated teams like Boise St., TCU, or Utah–teams that played weak schedules–were excluded (and rightfully so) because they beat bad teams, while 1 loss teams from stronger conferences jumped them in rankings. The argument was that losses weren’t as important as quality of wins. Yet for Alabama to get the nod over OKstate, one would have to focus on the quality of loss, rather than the quality of wins. Again, I’m not necessarily saying Alabama does not deserve to play in the game, but that the BCS is inconsistent with its past decisions and arguments by sending them.
And, let’s not forget the 2006 Ohio State vs Michigan game, which ended with Ohio State barely edging Michigan in an epic game. Many were advocating a rematch, while others felt Florida, who had lost to Auburn earlier in the year, should go face Ohio St. in the championship game instead. Florida ended up playing in the game rather than Michigan and most experts expected Ohio State to destroy them (just as most would expect LSU to destroy OkState). Of course, Florida destroyed the Buckeyes in that game. No one knows what will happen with OKstate vs LSU. I think LSU would win, but I don’t know that (I thought OU would beat OKstate in the Bedlam game too). The truth is, no one truly knows who the best teams are unless they play. And can we be certain that Ohio State and Florida were the two best teams in 2006? USC embarrassed Michigan in the Rose Bowl. How are we certain they wouldn’t have destroyed Ohio State as well? It can be argued that USC and Florida were actually the two best teams that year.
Unfortunately, this happens nearly every year. There is always a team that can make a good case for being deserving of a national title shot, but they don’t get the chance. When was the last time any NFL team claimed they deserved to play in the superbowl rather than one of the other two teams? Did the 1994 Dallas Cowboys (who many agree were the 2nd best team that year) argue that they should get a rematch against the 49ers in the superbowl? No. I doubt even a single Cowboys fan will say they deserved to play in that game over the Chargers, even though many think Dallas had a better team than San Diego. It doesn’t happen in the NFL because teams have a chance in the playoffs. In the flawed bcs system, there is always the team the can make a good case for why they should be in the game and we’ll never truly know unless it happens. That is why the BCS is a joke, and always has been.