For me, this is the No. 1 question in all of sports.
It is my belief that college football was and is the greatest sport in the world.
It also has a major image problem that stems from some serious structural problems.
I'm not going to get on a soapbox and write an essay here, but let's quickly review the 2011 season.
Alabama and LSU squared off in a game that was supposed to be the Game of the Century. LSU won, and under the old adage of "every game counts," this should have meant something.
What did this mean?
It meant LSU was rewarded with having to play Georgia in the Georgia Dome while Alabama rested. Alabama got back to the championship game regardless, beat LSU and was crowned undisputed the champion.
Michigan and Virginia Tech made the Sugar Bowl, making them the lowest- and second-lowest-ranked at-large teams in the history of the BCS. Boise State and Kansas State were passed over, two teams that would have produced a much better game than what we ended up seeing in New Orleans (Arkansas and South Carolina were passed over too, but theoretically couldn't be in).
We can sit here and find flaws in the selection process and proclaim, "It's all about money!"
And Sally Jenkins can write an excellent piece damning the executives such as Paul Hoolahan who gobble up all the cash, but until we as the viewing public do something about it (i.e. turn it off and stop giving them money), it isn't going to stop.
Bowl week, brought to you by some insurance company with musical interludes by Nelly and Pitbull, was a total fraud. A one hundred percent total fraud. The Sugar Bowl, BCS National Championship Game and Orange Bowl operated under the guise of tradition and pageantry that the sport once represented.
Miami was hit with another bombshell of a scandal when convicted criminal Nevin Shapiro ratted out the program for years of impropriety that he provided.
Miami athletic director Paul Dee could get promoted to President of Hypocrisy, as Dee was the chairman of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions when he levied a two-year ban on USC. He was quoted in 2010 as saying, "High-profile players demand high-profile compliance."
As it turns out, his program was much, much worse; he served as the athletic director for the U from 1993-2008.
And then there is Penn State.
In November, one week after Joe Paterno set the record for all-time wins, longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was indicted for sex crimes against underage boys.
To make matters worse (if that's possible), it was reported that then-assistant Mike McQueary witnessed Sandusky anally raping a young boy in 2002 and reported it to Paterno. Paterno reported it to athletic director Tim Curley and then did nothing—for nearly 10 years.
Penn State cleaned house in the week following the outbreak. Curley, president Graham Spanier and Paterno were all fired. Now, the all-time winningest coach in college football will forever be linked to a scandal of pedophilia. The school put the image of a football powerhouse before the welfare of young boys.
It's not as if the NCAA could have used any of this. All of these incidents add to the already growing list of concerns that involves player safety, shoddy recruiting methods that have likened the sport to the Wild West, a comical number of bowl games and sponsorships, a new transfer rule for graduates that many have compared to free agency and last but not least, the issue of whether or not to pay players for their services.
Yet the BCS and everything it stands for takes the attention away from all of this. It is a lightning rod for criticism, and that is what it wants to be.
The NCAA would like you to believe that the only thing wrong with the sport is whether or not we need a playoff and if Oklahoma State should have played in the championship. It's something that is easy to understand and something we can all talk about at holiday parties, but it's also something that keeps us interested in watching.
As it turns out, those concerns pale in comparison to everything listed above.
So they'll dangle this idea of an impending playoff in front of us like the carrot in front of a horse. More likely than not, we'll chase it, ignoring all the problems that surround us. It is my hope that we forget about the playoff and postseason and focus on the more important things first.