Annual nonsense with BCS system makes me sick to my stomach

December 09, 2004|By PETER SCHMUCK

HERE WE ARE again, debating the inexplicable exigencies of the Bowl Championship Series and wondering if there will ever be a system that fairly determines the best college football team in the nation.

Because I am an unabashed USC fan, it seems pretty fair to me at the moment, but the undefeated Auburn Tigers are in the strange position that the Trojans occupied last year, and there are a couple of other unbeaten teams with a legitimate axe to grind in this supposedly improved selection process.

The solution: Either go to a true playoff system or go back to the old, totally arbitrary bowl selection process that was accepted as imperfect and enjoyed for its quirky imperfection.

The way it is set up now, we're getting the worst of both worlds - the appearance of a coherent system that is nothing of the sort and a traditional bowl framework that has been stripped of the regional traditions that made it so interesting.

I'll go back into my middle-aged cocoon of nostalgia and stop bothering everybody about this as soon as someone can explain to me what Texas is doing in the Rose Bowl.

The fifth-ranked California Bears (10-1) are coming off one of the best seasons in the school's history, losing only a squeaker to the fabulous Trojans (and I offer that description with total objectivity and dispassion). They've spent the past 45 years trying to get back to the Rose Bowl and somehow get leapfrogged by the Longhorns in the final polls.

So the team (Cal) that some analysts have rated as the second-best in the country at this point in the season is going to the Holiday Bowl, leaving room to wonder if it would have fallen all the way to the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl if it had run up less than 500 yards in total offense against Southern Mississippi on Saturday.

OK, I know there's no Weed Eater Bowl anymore, but that just proves my point. Where's the tradition?

Texas should be playing in the Cotton Bowl. Cal should be playing in the Rose Bowl. And, though this really doesn't have anything to do with anything, I should be in Honolulu covering the Aloha Bowl.

I have to go along with a Fox SportsNet commentator, who summed the whole thing up when he complained the other day that he had developed a severe case of "irritable bowl syndrome."

What would I do if I had the power to change the BCS system? I would limit Division I schools to 11 regular-season games and institute an eight-game playoff system that would begin with four first-round matchups on New Year's Day in the top four bowl games.

There would be two semifinal games a week later and a national championship game in mid-January. The limitation on regular-season games would guarantee that only two teams play as many as 14 games and only four teams play as many as 13.

Of course, there would still be disputes over the fringe playoff berths, but there is never going to be a perfect system. I just think it could be a lot more perfect than it is now.

The heat is on the Major League Baseball Players Association to reach an agreement with Major League Baseball on a stronger anti-steroid policy, but the devil will be in the details.

Though the union appears to have gotten religion in the aftermath of the latest set of damaging steroid revelations, that won't prevent MLPBA lawyers from continuing to play defense during the negotiations.

Right or wrong, union director Donald Fehr and chief counsel Gene Orza are big-time civil liberties guys, and they aren't going to just roll over and surrender the privacy rights of the players. This fight is far from over.

News item: Latrell Sprewell was suspended for one game for yelling a sexual vulgarity at a female fan during a game.

My take: Since he didn't go up to her seat and punch her out, I guess we have to call that progress.

Contact Peter Schmuck at peter.schmuck@baltsun.com.

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