College Football Debate: What March Madness Teaches USC about the BCS

Jon Sarver@ IApril 1, 2010

MIAMI - JANUARY 4:  Head coach Pete Carroll of the USC Trojans holds up the championship trophy as quarterback Matt Leinart #11 celebrates after defeating the Oklahoma Sooners 55-19 to win the FedEx Orange Bowl 2005 National Championship on January 4, 2005 at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

USC fans know it well. 

In the Pete Carroll era there were 19 losses. About half of them had direct national championship implications

What if there was a real playoff system, as there is in every other major sport in the world?

Even curling has a playoff system, so where does that leave college football on the scale of all-time archaic championship determination systems?

Consider the mess in what has become the greatest March Madness tournament in recent memory. 

If college basketball was operated like the BCS, then after the final rankings, it would have been Kansas against Kentucky in the NCAA Basketball Championship Game, according to the AP Top 25 and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll. 

That is, assuming those polls are your NCAA Basketball Bible, but consider that those polls were wrong too.

What about Duke—Sorry fellas, you get the Orange Bowl this year!

Just how many of you are OK with that? 

That's right, you aren't. 

Hey, at least if you were Duke you were the next pick (number three) and got the most attractive second tier BCS Bowl Game. 

Sugar Bowl anyone?

In the words of the BCS Commissioner John Swofford, (to anyone not ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the final BCS standings,) "You should be happy with your season and congratulations!" 

Congratulations for what, exactly?

Most college basketball fans automatically apply logic to the sport that is sorely lacking when it comes to the always emotion-driven sport of college football.

It's all about the "Madness" in College Basketball.

Let's take Michigan State versus Butler. 

In the world of college football that may be good enough for the Capital One Bowl at best. 

Anyone buy that now?

Then there is West Virginia. 

They've made the "Madness" a blast.

Maybe they would be good enough to sneak into the Fiesta Bowl as a second tier team.

Remember, according to the BCS Commissioner, "You had a great season"...Blah, blah, blah.

The truth is that a playoff separates the pretenders from the contenders. 

Using the same logic as the BCS, the NBA Finals would pit Cleveland against Orlando. 

Anyone excited about that one?

Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately,  the Lakers have the opportunity to prove their supposed greatness starting about two weeks from now. 

Wait and see.

Baseball doesn't get it right either. 

Who remembers that the Dodgers rolled through the National League last year and the Phillies strolled to 93 wins?

No one, that's who!

In 2008 it would have been the Angels versus the Phillies in the World Series. The Angels lost in the first round. 

Any complaints there?

That's the point. Wait and see.

It is true USC had some awful losses in the Pete Carroll era. 

The loss to Stanford was awful, and there was no excuse when USC coughed up one against UCLA (13-9) a few years ago.

However, by the end of each season, there was a legitimate argument that USC was the best team in the nation.

It was the reason why you should play it on the field instead of computers.

So, why do you sit back and accept the BCS B.S.?

To be sure, there are legitimate arguments on every side of the story. That's what sets college football apart, and that is what makes the conferences money.

The college conferences and the bowls run college football, and they don't want to give control back to the NCAA.

There are answers, however. Just type "college football playoffs" into your friendly Google search bar, and see just how many there are.

How would the Trojans have fared in a playoff?

For Trojan fans, the pendulum swings both ways. The USC faithful cannot whine about a legitimate argument that they were the best team at the end of the year in 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008 without addressing the fact that they may have been derailed in 2003, 2004.  

This could have happened—All of these fantasy games were based on the final four schools in both human polls after their bowl game. 

The fantasy seeds were always one vs. four, two vs. three, with the winners playing in the NCAA Championship Game.


USC beats Ohio State (who's going to argue with that?,) in the semi's (35-21) and rolls Georgia (because they always beat the SEC), who upended Miami in the semi's. USC wins 27-14, behind Carson Palmer's 386 yards passing. 

NCAA Championship No. 1


USC beats Ohio State again, 42-21. 

LSU rolls Oklahoma setting up a terrific final game. Matt Leinart passes for 310 yards and USC beats the computers (again) and LSU 35-21

NCAA Championship No. 2


USC rips Oklahoma 55-14. 

Auburn edges Utah 35-34. 

In the NCAA Championship game, USC beats Auburn 23-0 in Auburn's home stadium just like they did the year before. This Three Peat is Plausible!


USC rolls Ohio State yet again 36-10, prompting the Buckeyes to kidnap Traveler 15. 

Texas rolls Penn State, setting up the dramatic final between Vince Young and the three-time defending champ (best team in the history of college football,) USC Trojans. 

In the championship game Reggie Bush deiced to lateral away the game winning touchdown and the Trojans lose in the last second 41-38. 

It is still a bad dream, Trojan fans.


USC crushes Ohio State (and the Big 10) for the 5th straight time 65-0 (Why not?).

Florida plays LSU again and edges the Tigers 28-27 on a last-second field goal. 

In the championship game USC continues its dominance over the SEC and blows out the Gators 45-28. 

NCAA Championship No. 4


USC continues its dominance over the SEC by crushing the Tigers again behind John David Booty's 326 passing yards.

Missouri blows by Georgia 27-17, leaving USC to dismantle Missouri in the NCAA Championship game 42-14. 

NCAA Championship No. 5


Florida dismantles Utah in a game that saw Urban Meyer coach both teams for a half, 28-24. 

USC avenges their only NCAA Championship game loss to Texas by crushing Mack Brown's Longhorns 37-21. 

In the NCAA Championship Game, Emanuel Moody hands off to Taylor Mays and all four future NFL draft choice linebackers (Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga, Clay Matthews, Kaluka Maiava) once.

The best defense in college football history shuts out Florida 28-0 for USC's (unequaled in fantasy) sixth NCAA Championship.

Fantasy?  Yes.

Now, we take you back to reality.

It's time to wake up, Trojan fans, and demand a playoff.

Are you happy with two "claimed" Championships during the last decade? 

Only one was a BCS Championship! 

The system is old and outdated.  It is time to demand a college football playoff.

In fact, with a playoff, we may have all be denied the horror of the Bush fumble lateral and LenDale White's two yards and no cloud of dust clunker in that otherwise great 2005 season. (Except the last 20 seconds.)

During that time LSU and Auburn had a legitimate argument for college football supremacy, and they have never forgotten it either.

Now, let's get back to college basketball and our logical argument.

The facts are, since 2001 when Duke's basketball team was ranked No. 1 going into the tournament and won it, no team has been able to accomplish that feat. 

No team.

Applying the flawed logic of our BCS Commissioner and the ever-wacky computers, (because who knows how our scenario would be messed up with formulas?) there is not one team listed below that would have played in the championship game.

Maryland (2002) — See ya, but you had a great season.

Syracuse (2003) — Thanks for participating.

UConn (2004) — Welcome to the Holiday Bowl.

North Carolina (2005) — No thanks, great season.

Florida (2006) — Using the logic you used to defend your BCS titles—Give it back.

Florida (2007) — May have been derailed by a computer—Give this one back too.

Kansas (2008) — It depends where they were ranked at the end of the season (four No. 1 seeds).

North Carolina (2009)—Who knows?

One of the components that people love about college football is the 24/7 debate on who's best and the importance of each and every game.

This argument rages on, while coaches are getting fired in record numbers and students are imploding because of the stress caused by the constant pressure to win so their universities can haul in multiple millions. 

The truth is, too much stress is placed on the student athletes to make their universities big bucks.

Is there anyone thinking about the kids here?  

Is there anyone out there who recognizes the hypocrisy of ESPN, who generally avoids hard commentary on the subject because they own the BCS rights?

Is there anyone willing to tell Jim Rome that the BCS makes him money (through controversy) but is a flawed and antiquated system.

Even local L.A. sportscaster John Ireland of ESPN Los Angeles has admitted that he likes the BCS because of the radio ratings. 

What about what is right in American sports, John?  

Wake up! Using that logic, your repeat gig with the Lakers is up in two weeks.

Hey John, what would happen to you and Steve Mason if Lakers talk suddenly became Angel and Dodger talk in May and June? And don't forget one of the Lakers Championship years in the early 2000's when they limped to 50 wins before rolling in the playoffs.

Give it back, Lakers Fans!

Is it fair to assume the Trojans would have competed for a national title in a playoff in '02, '03, '04, '05, '06 , '07, and '08? 

The answer is yes.

Pete Carroll was a master at preparing the Trojans for the big game, in fact, usually several big games. 

Don't let comfortable Trojan fans tell you it can't be done.

It's time for Trojan fans to lead the way and demand a college football playoff now. 

USC has been leading the way for years, so why not on this debate, too? Butler, Michigan State, West Virginia, and Duke are sure happy they have a tournament in basketball. 

Don't mid-majors like Butler pretend to be happy to play in the Fiesta Bowl anyway?  

It's time to dump the BCS and demand a college football playoff now.

Jon Sarver is the co—founder of , a site that is committed to Dumping the BCS and demanding a college football playoff. Check it out if you are tired of the current BCS system and want a change now.


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