Let Go Of Your BCS Arguments And Have Fun
Now that election day has come and gone, Americans can focus on the more pressing matter at hand: bickering over the BCS. But are we missing the real point over why we’re arguing one way verses another by pretending to care about morality and fairness when sticking up for the little guys like Boise State and TCU? - Jose Bosch
Everybody’s got an opinion on the state of the BCS.
In the Indianapolis Star, Bob Kravtiz wrote of the BCS:
“It’s exclusive, turning up its nose to small-conference upstarts like Boise State, Utah and TCU. Let’s just say, a Butler-type story has almost no chance of happening in college football. ... The little guys need special dispensation and a small miracle to get a shot at the Alabamas of the world in a national title game. It’s financially irresponsible.”
In a blog post, John Canzano of The Oregonian expressed a similar distaste for the greed of the BCS system:
“Those conferences get the automatic BCS bowl bids, and so they stand together like a pack of miserly old men, counting dollars, while insisting nothing can be done.”
On the flip side of the argument, supporters don’t necessarily defend the BCS conferences and their commissioners but rally behind the idea that a playoff would hurt college football as we know it. AOL Fanhouse’s John Walters writes:
“Here’s my concern with the playoff proponents. Install a playoff and you may not ruin the “regular season” (a misnomer if ever there was one), but you will compromise its beauty.”
And of course there is BCS executive director Bill Hancock, who also defends college football’s regular season in defending the BCS system:
“We know we have the best regular season of any sport. We think the bowl system is so important top to bottom in college football—at the end of the season, everyone has a chance to play in a bowl. The BCS allows us to match No. 1 and No. 2.”
My problem with all the arguments? People pretending to care about fairness by “standing up” to the big, bad bully - the BCS - that pick on little schools that can’t defend themselves. But at the end of the day, do college football fans really care about fairness? After all, if we go to an eight-team playoff, it would hardly be fair for an undefeated No. 1 team to play a two-loss team in the first round. There’s a ton of unfair scenarios like that which will surely present itself if we switch to a playoff. How about, say, an Alabama team beating Florida in the SEC Championship Game, then turning around and playing them in the first round of the playoffs. Yeah, that sounds fair.
The real question is, what about entertainment? What about having fun? Why doesn’t anyone admit they just want to watch more meaningful football games? And why is this entire paragraph made up of rhetorical questions?
Let’s stop talking about fairness and call this what it really is: Fans wanting to be entertained. Fans are very simple creatures of habit. Every Saturday we get up early to watch a grown man play dress up to make his final pick of the day on ESPN GameDay, we engorge ourselves with fatty foods and beer and we go nuts when we win or get depressed and write angry tweets when we lose (guilty).
In the heat of the moment, we aren’t thinking about the conference commissioners or the coaches or the student athletes. Think back to Cam Newton’s sick touchdown run against LSU, likely his Heisman moment. If you’re a college football fan, I doubt you thought to yourself, “Man it’s great a playoff system hasn’t ruined the sanctity of this regular season moment! High five!”
We’re just having a great time (or in my case, as I watch another quarterback shred Michigan’s defense, a terrible time). So why are we pretending to care about fairness or preserving the regular season when really we just want to have a good time?
Me, I’d love a playoff. Not because I think it’s fairer or that I want to see a system stick it to the BCS conferences. I just want to see more great games. I want to see more desperation, more pageantry, more everything that makes college football great. Do I care if Boise or TCU has a shot? Not really.
When the NCAA basketball tournament ends, with the rare years when teams like George Mason or Butler make such deep runs, I don’t walk away thinking, “Man it’s great all those little schools had a shot at the title.” I just care about how great the games were over the course of a month.
Playoff, no playoff - it doesn’t matter. Let go of your desire to fall into the typical arguments for or against the BCS and just admit to yourself: you want to be entertained.
Whether it’s a system that supposedly puts more emphasis on the regular season or one that rewards the hottest team at the end of the year, you just want to walk away knowing you had a great time watching great football.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
Jose Bosch is the site’s managing editor and social media editor and is responsible for all of the site’s content and coordinates day-to-day activities on Lost Lettermen. He tweets all week and all football Saturday at @LostLettermen.