Well, the first BCS rankings are out and there is controversy because the University of South Florida is #2. I already heard Jimmy Johnson moaning that “computer don’t have eyes”, which is making them rank USF so highly.

Johnson, and everyone who is echoing him, is full of crap.

The computers don’t have eyes. They also don’t have memories. They look at the field and rank teams based on their performance this year. They look at South Florida and see a team that beat Auburn on the road, smothered North Carolina, beat West Virginia and destroyed UCF.

The best thing about the computers is that they are objective. They don’t go in for the SMT logic, which goes something like this: USF just can’t, just can’t be the #2 team in the country. They’ve only had a program since the Clinton years. No no no. We’re supposed to look at the teams and rank them based on how good we thought they were in the pre-season, or how much prestige they have. No way can a powerhouse like LSU finish behind USF. It’s just not right.

I have my issues with the computers but they are at least objective. They aren’t ranking the teams based on how famous they are, how much TV exposure they get or how they were ranked in the preseason. They rank them based on their performance and nothing but performance.

To paraphrase Billy Beane, we’re not selling jeans here. I don’t care how good a team “looks” if they’re not that good. I care how they perform week in and week out.

The one good things that might come out of this roller-coaster season is that it will put the final nail in the cofffin of the BCS. If we end up with, let’s say BC and Ohio State in the title game — while 1-loss Oklahoma and LSU are on the sidelines, no one will accept the result. If Ohio State, South Florida, Arizona State and BC all stumble – and we’re left with a whole bunch of 1-loss or even 2-loss teams, no one will respect the result.

We need a playoff. My preference would be something like this:

  • Keep the system mostly intact. The BCS will still take the six major conference champions and then two teams that are ranking highly in the BCS. Preference should be given to other conference champs. So MAC, WAC and C-USA champs will be given the open bid if they are ranked. I know a lot of #2 teams in major conferences will whine about being left out. But if you can’t win your conference, you don’t belong in the championship series.
  • Have the four majors bowls – Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta, be the first round of playoffs on New Year’s Day. Keep traditional slotting – Rose Bowl will be Pac-10 and Big-10 champ; Sugar Bowl will have the SEC champ, etc.
  • The four bowl winners play again on January 8. The sites rotate. Each city in the major bowls will host the championship game one in four years; each city will host nothing one in four years; each city will host a semi-final every other year.
  • The championship game happens on January 15. Now that will mean extending the football season one week beyond its current format. I expect some people will object to interfering with classes. This is laughable coming from traditional football factories.
  • The thing I like about this system is it maintains tradition, established a bona-fide champ but keeps the final tourney exclusive so that only the best teams can make it. We might have, one year, a #18 ACC champ bull its ways to the final. But even in that extreme case, they will have had to overcome three of the top teams in the country.

    We’re gradually headed for precisely this system, which heretics like me have been advocating for ten years. I just wish we could have gotten there sooner. Then, maybe last year, Boise State and USC would have had a crack at Florida.

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