Most Sports Give Us Champions; The NCAA Gives Us 30 Contestants
In a world defined by certainty, we as human beings naturally seek black and white answers to everything. In the sports world, we're given opportunity in nearly every aspect to get clear cut results. That's why we have overtimes, sudden death, shootouts, extra innings, and tie breakers. These various extensions of the game were created so we could, at the end of the day, know without question who the true winner of the event is.
Yet, in a world of black and white, the NCAA continues to present to us grey resolutions with such decorum that we've nearly no idea how to get to a definitive winner.
Of course, the issues I'm referring to are that of the bowl system. And not just dogging the BCS, but the entire bowl set up is such a scam of money and politics that it makes real politicians seem somewhat ethical.
The basic idea of the bowls is good: give deserving teams a chance to play in another game after their regular season is done. Makes sense. After all, good teams should get rewarded, and they do just that in various other sports.
However, in other sports, each game in the postseason has relevance. In the NFL, each postseason game is a step towards another game, in hopes of eventually determining one true champion. Same goes for the NBA, NHL, and MLB. Same goes for the World Cup, professional tennis, and the WNBA.
Yet when it comes to FBS football, the postseason setup is still based on expired traditions and greedy sponsorships.
One could argue the BCS does determine one champion. Based on a complex system of mathematical formulas and biased human opinions, two teams are heralded as the best in the nation, and thus given the chance to compete against each other for the title. But what if they aren't really the two best teams?
Then begins the repetitive argument for a playoff system in Division 1 football. If for no other reason than to determine a true champion. Or, even better, to grant these over hyped exhibitions called bowls some shred of relevance. Is there really something to be proud of by defeating a non-conference opponent on a neutral field? Certainly. But can't that be accomplished during the regular season?
But here's what we've been coerced to believe for more years than necessary: random games pairing two teams of similar record and caliber competing for a largely meaningless trophy is better than numerous teams competing to “survive and advance” in a mass effort streamlining towards a singular national champion. Something better than some 30-plus random game winners. Something more than declaring your team as the champions of the Eagle Bank Bowl or the San Diego Federal Credit Poinsettia Bowl. Something beyond a trophy that does nothing but pimp out some poor coach and/or athlete for a sponsor lobbying the NCAA.
Somehow the NCAA has yet to figure the logistics of combining both bowl tradition and the need for a playoff. Some of the blame shifts onto school presidents, some on the loss of the almighty dollar.
Still, in a sport so cherished across the nation, an institution that bases its governorship on fairness and equality has shown very little of that. It's blatantly obvious that money rules the NCAA postseason, not players or the merits of a team.
Now here we are, just hours into a new decade, awaiting a finale sure to inspire big moments between two undefeated teams. But when the dust settles in Pasadena, and either Alabama or Texas hoists a national trophy, we'll be left to ponder the what ifs.
What if TCU or Boise State had gotten to play Texas or Alabama? What if Florida wasn't eliminated from a championship shot just because of one loss against the #1 team? What if Cincinnati had not lost their coach due to the fact they didn't make it to the national title game despite doing exactly what they're supposed to do, which is win all of their games?
This is why, nearly every season (with or without the BCS), the college football season ends with a strange hollow feeling. One that leaves heads scratching and more questions than answers. A feeling that makes us wonder why the greatest sport in the world appears too stubborn to define itself with a true champion.
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