Wednesday, September 29, 2010

the upset factor

The current Sports Illustrated has a cover story called "Boise State: The Great Debate." I'll be interested to check it out, but Yahoo! Sports' "Dr. Saturday" blog makes some points about the whole debate that I think we can all pretty much agree on. Here's a link:

The great Boise State debate heats up, but is it the one we should be having?

The two concluding paragraphs pretty much sum things up:

When in doubt, reject the premises. My solution to the Boise debate is the same as it's always been, since BSU (along with Utah) ran the table in the regular season for the first time back in 2004:  a) Yes, obviously Boise State (or Utah, or TCU, or Nevada, or any other I-A team that puts together a perfect season against a I-A schedule) deserves a chance to compete on the field for a national championship; b) Because of the subpar schedule, the Broncos probably don't deserve to be one of the top two teams that play for the nominal title in the current system; therefore c) The current system should be abandoned for one that allows more deserving teams a chance to compete – i.e. a playoff.

The real debate should be about why college football has a championship structure that forces us into the unnecessary debate over the merits of a wildly successful upstart at all, when every question could be settled beyond a doubt with actual football instead of conjuring up make-believe scenarios. As usual, the final answer is: The BCS sucks.

By the way, one of the things I was thinking about yesterday is how, in any football league besides the Football Bowl Subdivision (the FBS, formerly known as Div. I-A), a team can get hot late in the season, squeak into the playoffs, and take it all the way to the championship. That's one of the biggest issues I have with the BCS system. Like a couple of years ago, when the Giants and the Cardinals met in the Super Bowl; no way that could have happened under a BCS-like system.

For me, one of the greatest things about sports is "the upset," and the possibility of an upset. To me, that's why the games are played -- that's what sports are all about, or should be. The BCS system practically kills "the upset factor" because it's impossible for "the little guys" to string together a series of upsets and make it to the championship. No "Hoosiers" stories. The big boys always have the upper hand.

Oh, well. I seriously doubt that I'll live long enough to see a good playoff system in college football's top division. Even if Boise State or TCU managed to sneak into this year's championship game, and against all odds, actually win the dang thing, it would be bittersweet to me even if it were to happen because there would be other teams that, in my opinion, deserved a chance to compete for the title, but who got left out. If it turned out to be, say, Boise State vs. Alabama for the championship, who's to say that a team like Ohio State or Oregon couldn't have beaten one of those teams in a playoff setting? Or, another example, what if Denard Robinson and the Michigan Wolverines actually managed to get hot and run the table this season? Under the present system, they'd still have virtually no shot at making it to the championship game. That's simply not how things should be.

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