Monday, December 5, 2011

Ah Yes, The BCS

One of my favorite days of the year is Selection Sunday for the NCAA Basketball Tournament--when you look at that bracket (which was better at just 64 teams) and start breaking down all the matchups for the office pool.  One of my least favorite days of the year was yesterday--when we find out who the BCS has screwed again this year.  If baffles me how the same organization that produces March Madness--where people who haven't watched a college basketball game all year are huddled around the office TV to watch a potential Cinderella upset in the first round--can also bring us a system where people talk about boycotting the Championship game telecast.

One of the "selling points" that the NCAA and the idiots that run the BCS tout is that "Every Game Counts".  Except, every game doesn't actually count.  How else to explain how Michigan State can win its division in the Big Ten and beat Michigan head-to-head--but then watch the Wolverines get a BCS bowl bid (and the big cash payout) while Sparty goes to Tampa for a meaningless contest.  Apparently getting your butt handed to you for the second time by the same opponent in the ACC Championship game didn't count for Virginia Tech--who goes to a BCS bowl game, while Boise State (with a better ranking) is shut out of the BCS for the fourth time in sixth years.  And based on the computers--LSU could have lost the SEC Championship game and still played Alabama for the BCS Championship.

I've been told that it's annoying to constantly point out on the air that the BCS Championship is a mythical National Championship.  The NCAA does not recognize an official Football Bowl Division champion--like it does for every other single sport that it authorizes.  There is a Women's Bowling National Champion, a Fencing National Champion and even a Rifle Shooting National Champion.

So how do we change this?  The ideas that always get floated around at this time of year are boycott watching the BCS Championship game or holding Congressional hearings--but we all know that won't change a thing.  The root that allows the BCS to continue to live is money--money that we the fans continue to hand over willingly.  And like the roots of any noxious weed, this will be a tough one to either kill or dig out of the ground.  The key will be to cost the schools more than they can make on the system--thereby catching the attention of the university presidents who endorse and control the BCS.

One of the dirty little secrets of the bowl system is that most schools that go to non-BCS games lose money on the trip.  Schools are required to pay for any tickets they don't actually sell for the game--and considering the increasing number of empty seats at the vast majority of these bowls, that cost keeps going up.  So let's hit the system in the wallet by not bothering to take the trip to Orlando or Tampa or Boise (yes, they host a bowl). 

Step two should be a little bit easier, don't watch any of the games.  It's not called the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas because Meineke Car Care thinks its going to sell a lot of brake jobs to people coming to the game itself.  It wants the constant on-screen presence provided by ESPN's telecast of the game.  If ESPN loses the ratings for these meaningless contests--then the sponsorship money will go away as well.  (By the way, I find it laughable when ESPN talking heads criticize the BCS--when it is their BILLION DOLLAR contract that fuels the whole system.)

And finally, fans will have to take away all the other revenue streams schools enjoy from the bowl system.  That means not buying Rose Bowl sweatshirts, t'shirts, caps and seat cushions at the University Bookstore.  This will be difficult for my family members--as that is becoming the easiest gifts to get for me this time of year.

With two bowl bids going to nearly every one of the conferences tied in to the BCS--that will mean a minimum of $25-MILLION DOLLARS  to the Big Ten, the SEC, the ACC, and the Pac-12 each.  Money that is supposed to salve the wounds of those deserving teams that got the shaft yesterday--and to keep them supporting the giant money grab that robs the fans and the student-athletes of a chance to have the championship actually decided on the field.

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