The Case For The Mythical National Championship

Tim McGheeCorrespondent IIIJuly 5, 2009

MIAMI - JANUARY 08:  The Florida Gators fan celebrates during the FedEx BCS National Championship Game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Dolphin Stadium on January 8, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

If in 2007 Missouri and West Virginia would have qualified for the BCS Championship game, you would have either a) laughed hysterically, or b) thrown a brick through your television.  My bet is three-quarters of you would have been in a Best Buy the following day.

It was that dangerously close. The Mountaineers were upset by 4-7 Pittsburgh in Morgantown and Mizzou lost for the second time that season to an Oklahoma team that in a month would be pummeled by the Mountaineers.

Think of the progression of events had Missouri and West Virginia won on Dec. 2 of that year:

a)      All the Southeastern Conference schools would have suffered a nuclear winter,

b)      Big XII athletic directors would have cheered “Go…Tigers?”

c)      Big Ten coaches would have melted down like the witch in The Wizard of Oz,

d)      The Pacific Ten would have sent USC to the game anyway hoping it was just a bad dream,

e)      The Atlantic Coast Conference could not have done anything,

f)       The Big East would have still been considered pathetic,

g)      The echoes would have still been sleeping and Utah would have continued to be treated like Cinderella’s step-sisters, and

h)      The television ratings for the BCS Championship game would have been lower than yet another Bob Saget Nick at Night marathon.

The Bowl Championship Series has been flawed since 1998, which, by the way, is the first year it opened shop.  

Early on, the BCS relied almost solely on computers. The following year Virginia Tech dominated the nerd rankings.  The Hokies entered the Sugar Bowl.  Then, everyone agreed that any team with the name “Virginia” in it was suspect.  Michael Vick and company did little to dispel that thinking as Florida State mercifully waited until the fourth quarter to pound them into submission.

It took the BCS a few years after that near disaster to inject humans into the equation, wisely knee-jerking its way toward the optimal.  As we stand now, only two-thirds of the equation eat and sleep football while the balance one-third knows nothing about football and never sleeps.

“Equation” is the operative word because computers still are a significant part of the scheme.  And, “scheme” is certainly apropos because - and it's just filled with a boatload of irony - the Bowl Championship Series champion remains what the BCS designed itself to get away from—a mythical champion.

“Mythical Champion” is why we got into this mess, anyway.  It is a phrase that was popularized in the Paleolithic days before the BCS acronym hit the American lexicon.

It meant United Press International and Associated Press crowned their own national champions, along with a bunch of them like Walter Camp, Eastman Kodak, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and Richard M. Nixon.  USA Today got the coaches to vote with them in 1991, and the BCS took roots several years later.  Then, in 2004 the AP became disillusioned with the entire charade and quit to place the tiara on whomever they see fit.

The circle of life.

My suggestion?  Follow the AP's lead and revert back to an honest mythical championship. Seriously. The Bowl Championship Series is a sham, so let’s stop kidding ourselves and have several titles.  Just like we used to back in the Golden Years of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and mid-1990s.

I know…polls alone would create controversy.  Ya think?  Controversy is synonymous with college football, even with the BCS.  Here are a few:

  1. The Call in the 2003 Ohio State-Miami Fiesta Bowl championship game,
  2. Ohio State’s inclusion in the championship games for the seasons 2006 and 2007, according to the members of the SEC.
  3. Utah’s exclusion every year,
  4. Virginia Tech 1999; why were they there? 
  5. West Virginia 2007 and its cream puff schedule,
  6. Oklahoma and its inability to win a BCS bowl game ("What have you done for me lately?")
  7. Notre Dame, just for being Notre Dame, 
  8. The Big East and the Atlantic Coast Conference and the cupcakes on which they feast,
  9. and, 
  10. The fact that the BCS would have to borrow money from China to get a large enough sum to pay off the Rose Bowl so a true playoff could be instituted. 

The Bowl Championship Series is over.  And the playoff is a fantasy.  Call it what it is.  Accept the mythical national championships and move on.


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