We didn't really need further proof on how flawed the BCS was, but college football fans got just that on New Year's Day.
The Rose Bowl pitting TCU against Wisconsin was an outstanding game. It was actually a great matchup put together by the powers-that-BCS. It came down to the wire and gave fans more than they could ask for in the Granddaddy of Them All.
Well, almost more than we could ask for.
The bitter aftertaste from that sweet treat of a game is that neither TCU nor Wisconsin will contend for a national championship. It's not that Oregon and Auburn don't deserve to be in the title game — those two teams earned the right to be where they are. But a few other teams should have a chance — TCU, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Boise State — and the only way that could happen is a playoff.
Yeah, that's all been said before, now on to the real travesty ...
What was that lopsided stinker of a bowl that came on after the Rose Bowl? Was it one of those something-dot-com bowls?
Oh, it was a BCS bowl? Ouch.
The Siesta ... errr ... Fiesta bowl had one worthy participant, Oklahoma, which was ranked No. 7 in the final BCS standings, fair enough.
Now, all respect to the Huskies for making the first major bowl game in school history ... from a school that's known more for basketball. But they were there as beneficiaries of a flawed system.
UConn was: 1. 8-4 ... EIGHT AND FOUR! With that record, they should have wrapped their season up before 2011 in a not-so-prestigious bowl game.
2. Here are the final 2010 BCS standings. UConn is not even in the top 25, yet because they won their conference, the Big East, they were entitled under this system to go to the Fiesta Bowl, and thereby make some $$$ for their school and conference.
There were schools out there with better football teams who certainly deserved to be at the Fiesta Bowl more than UConn did. But because the Huskies come from one of those conferences of Legends and Leaders, meaning the names of the schools have just been more prominent, they got to go to a bigger bowl, because fans from their conference travel better and bring more revenue to the beast.
The BCS is like a reward contract, which involves an exorbitant amount of money to an athlete — most likely a baseball player — for what he's done in the past, even though the player will not play up to that value in that season. Barry Bonds was not worth $16 million in 2007, even if he did break the home run record*. The BCS schools are making money off their past, at the expense of schools who just don't have as much "tradition."
The BCS isn't about good football teams ... it's about brand recognition, and people just don't recognize TCU, Utah or Boise State as much as they do Michigan, Oklahoma or West Virginia. It's more about tradition than who is good right now, and the preposterous argument is made every year that the non-BCS schools would never survive in a BCS conference.
Well, starting next season we get to see if that's true. Utah will be in the Pac-12 and TCU will be in the Big East. And within five years, it's realistic to say they could meet for the national title.
Unfortunately, this means the BCS wins. Two successful programs who recently could have made the case for being in the title game (Utah in 2004 and 2008, TCU this year) have decided to join conferences that would allow them to contend for a "national championship."
I don't blame the schools, they've both earned it, but ultimately this prolongs the inequity of the BCS. It says, "Your conference wasn't good enough, even if your team was."
And more good schools with good football teams will continue to get cheated out of good money.
Tradition is a big part of what gives college football its charm and appeal, and it galvanizes fans across the country. But it's also a curse, and it's what has had the sport for decades mired in systems that do not produce a true national champion — and only reward those schools that have a big name.