College football, BCS win the mess they richly deserve

December 09, 2003|By LAURA VECSEY

DUMP THE BCS? Let us praise the BCS. If USC cannot completely condemn the system - and if you read between the lines, it won't - how can we?

The Bowl Championship Series gives college football - and university presidents who have become slaves to college football - what they deserve: a mess.

It's such a mess that the people who use the rationale that Oklahoma forfeited its right to a national title game by losing to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship are the same people who say a playoff system will allow the best team to win, just like every other NCAA tournament.

For those who want a playoff but believe Oklahoma is no longer deserving of a title shot because of its one loss: Would LSU vs. USC - also one-game losers - be a more defining and definitive matchup?

In a playoff system, even with its loss in the regular-season finale, Oklahoma would still get favorable odds to run the table to a national title.

If the Sooners wound up in the final game of a Division I-A playoff system, the party line would be that their crushing loss to Kansas State served as a wakeup call for the best team in the nation.

But that's all mumbo-jumbo, just like the BCS, which continues to make candidates for martyrdom out of "schools" that otherwise have no right to receive one shred of collective sympathy.

Don't cry for me, Pete Carroll? He said he would like the BCS blown up, but if the USC coach smiles any wider or shows any greater capacity for humility and compassion, he'll wind up with a nomination for a cabinet position. Or at least an Oscar.

The telegenic Carroll hit the airwaves after the "shocking" BCS snub of the Pac-10 champs, ranked No. 1 in two polls, but what does the BCS spreadsheet care?

Carroll graciously said he welcomes the very special opportunity for his team to play in the Rose Bowl, against Michigan, in one of the longest, greatest traditions in college football.

"The Rose Bowl is the national championship game," Carroll said.

"There's no question about it in our minds. It's not going to be talked about on TV by the other bowl game that way. That's the marketing aspect of it. Logic tells you we're the No. 1 team in the country, and if we play a great game and win, we're going to take a trophy home with us."

His spin was lip service that could actually gird the BCS process and justify the bowl-centric cartel that runs/owns college football.

The BCS may not exist when its contract expires after 2005, but it seems unfathomable that the big-time conferences will relinquish all the power and the glory for "fairness."

In name, the BCS may change. In form and function, it will be tweaked. In the meantime, Lord knows the BCS needs to politick for itself, considering how those have-not institutions from every conference that's not a main feeder at the BCS trough are seeking reform.

The big boys in blue blazers will have to placate the fellas from underdog conferences, like formerly disenchanted, heartbroken and/or snubbed Tulane, Texas Christian and Marshall.

The ability to placate will be directly proportionate to the number of extra millions the BCS grand poobahs are willing to throw to the children of a lesser Division I-A football conference.

Hopefully, that way, Congress will stop calling hearings to investigate antitrust matters involving this college football cartel.

This week, the BCS can actually thank USC and Carroll for their outspoken efforts to affirm the lucrative party line. Translation of Carroll/USC's post-snub spiel:

See, history means something in our game. Bowl games are the crucible of this great American tradition. We don't want to do away with bowls, particularly our beloved Rose Bowl, the mother of all bowl games. We just hope everyone understands that the computer got it wrong.

We the Trojans will attempt to beat the Wolverines and prove we are the people's choice for national champ.

We are big enough and co-opted enough in this very rewarding system to not protest too much.

Carroll even referred to years when the national title was shared.

USC's own athletic director was steeped enough in BCS dogma to eschew grandstanding before the BCS's final printout.

"I like it the way it is," Mike Garrett was quoted in The New York Times.

"The BCS is not that controversial. You have to win. They've treated us pretty fairly in the BCS in the last two years, and I have no complaints."

The benefits for USC now balance any so-called injustice. The Rose Bowl will be awash in garnet and gold.

Clearly, Carroll understands how to spin this computer-generated snub of the Trojans. You know what they say in Hollywood: Any publicity is better than no publicity. USC will use this platform (as team spurned) and attitude (head held high) to boost its own standing.

That's not a bad thing for a program attempting to recruit skill players in a city whose defensive backs and receivers get cherry-picked from Pullman to Tucson.

Just wait until we hear from former Trojan Keyshawn Johnson - and you know we will hear from him. The same TV executives who pay for the BCS bowl games have put Tampa Bay's loudmouth/receiver non grata on the air.

Now the wonderful BCS has presented Johnson with a rare chance to sound rational. If that's not a sign of the apocalypse, what then?

Fight on for ol' SC?

Sorry.

Everyone involved with the BCS got what he deserved.

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