How the NCAA and the BCS Ruined New Years Day

You can read any number of articles criticizing the BCS bowl system, almost all of them decrying that there isn’t a playoff system to decide a national champion. I completely agree, but that is not what this post is about. It is about what I really, really hate about the NCAA and the BCS system. In fact, I hate it for so many reasons that it is hard to pick the worst offense. But let’s start by discussing their second worst offense; ruining New Year’s Day.
The current bowl system uses a computer to decide who the top two teams are, and then arranges a “national title” bowl game on a weekday night almost a week after New Year’s Day, with a sprinkling of minor bowl games almost every night for the entire first week. If you are an undefeated, NCAA Division I football team and you aren’t picked, you’re out of the running (sorry Boise State, sorry TCU).
For you youngsters out there (< 35 years old), let me relate how New Year's Day used to unfold around 20+ years ago; there was no BCS bowl system to pick a mythical national champion and there was obviously no playoff. Most minor bowl games, which involved teams without a chance of being considered number 1, had already been played. What were left were the big dogs; the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, and later the Fiesta Bowl. These games had match-ups determined by conference champions and schedule. The bowls that included independents (such as, at that time, national powers Miami, Florida State, Penn State, and Notre Dame) had to attract top contenders with a match-up that provided the best chance for a win to result in a consensus national title. So if there were 2 undefeated schools, and they were not playing each other in a bowl, each would try to arrange a bowl match-up with another top contender so they could try to dominate and win the "national championship argument" over the first week of the year. Later on, the NCAA moved one or two of the biggest bowl games to January 2nd in an attempt to simulate a true national title contest. This was a precursor to the BCS and it diluted the New Year's Day games a bit, but there was still an outside chance that those games could have an impact on the national title. Was this an imperfect system? Of course it was. The only valid system would pit the top 4 teams (or 8, etc) in playoff games so the title would be decided on the field. But it had one huge advantage over the present system; the New Year's Day bowl games meant something. You could look down the list of match-ups and get excited about hunkering down in front of the tube, drinking Bloody Marys to lessen the effect of the previous night's revelry, and watch some great football with your friends. Then over the following week you could argue about who was number 1 while waiting for the final polls to be published. Contrast that with today, January 1, 2010. Here is a list of the New Years Day match-ups: Outback Bowl - Northwestern vs Auburn Gator Bowl - West Virginia vs Florida St Capital One Bowl - Penn State vs LSU Rose Bowl - Ohio St vs Oregon Sugar Bowl - Cincinnati vs Florida Wow! Can you contain your excitement? I'm not saying that there aren't a few good games here, there are. But since there is zero impact on the national championship picture, do you really care who wins these games (unless you are an alumnus of one of these schools)? I didn't think so. These games are followed by some more meaningless bowls on January 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th, with the "National Championship" Rose Bowl game on Thursday night, January 7th, at 8:00PM EST. Oh boy, a week after the holiday season, on a work night and after 3 straight weeks of football, I get to see a national championship game that doesn't conclusively decide anything! If I can stay awake. What sort of idiots decided to implement a system that devalues every game leading up to an "ultimate" game that is no better in deciding a true national champion than the previous system? Simple; idiots whose primary goal has nothing to do with college football, sports, or athletics. Their one and only goal is to maximize revenue, and all sports fans are the losers for it. Now that I have discussed the NCAA's second worst offense, you may wonder what their worst crime is. This one applies to all big-time NCAA sports. It's that these revenue hogs are the same bunch of hypocrites that won't allow a kid from the projects to accept a plane ticket for his parents to watch a game, a part-time job, or a small monthly stipend because they say that college athletics would be "corrupted". Meanwhile, the coaches and the NCAA are making millions and billions of dollars, respectively, marketing these same kids to garner TV contracts and sportswear endorsements, advertising revenue, and merchandising deals. And what do the kids get if they don't make it to the pros after devoting untold hours each week to practice and travel for their entire college career while simultaneously trying to maintain their grades (assuming that they attend one of the very few schools that even care about their schoolwork)? A trip right back to the projects. How can you not hate these guys?

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