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Friday, December 10, 2004

How The BCS Is Like Figure Skating

The Sports Economist provides the back-up information as to how Texas overtook Cal in the BCS standings. I agree with his point that if the BCS were figure skating, there would be an international scandal. Certain adults will remember how they used to joke when someone fell that the East German judge gave the spill a 6 and the U.S. judge gave it a 9. Well, perhaps that joke is transferable now, and you can joke that the Big 12 voters ranked your team 20th, while everyone else ranked it 6th.

I disagree with Eric of Off-Wing Opinion (who has one of the best sports blogs out there) who said that Cal had the BCS in its own hands and didn't get it done. Well, they won the game, and I thought that college football had advanced passed the type of thinking where winning the game mattered, and not rolling up the score for the sake of doing so. In my mind, Cal held serve, got the job done (on the road) and deserved to keep its place. Reasonable bloggers, perhaps, will differ, but why isn't this situation a scandal when figure-skating voting by an obviously addled French judge at the Olympics a few years ago did?

That's the real mystery, and, as I blogged before, this whole situation really stinks. To high heaven. It's not the Olympics, perhaps, but today the Olympics has the stature of the United Nations, and that's not saying a whole lot, especially in some quarters. There definitely needs to be a playoff system, and I think many would agree with that (unless, of course, you're a half-baked public company that wants to sponsor the Mediocre Bowl). In the U.S., the top college teams enjoy status higher than that of figure skating, and they deserve fairer treatment. (Even Texas does).

This situation requires an investigation. Names need to be named. Voters need to be questioned. The NCAA and BCS need to ensure that Big 12 coaches didn't sandbag Cal for the sake of more revenue dollars for their conference and therefore their school.

Because if they did, there's a story out there that's more compelling than the breaking of the story in the 1960's that some of the whiz kids on the quiz shows actually were fed information. There's a story out there that resembles the scene in Casablanca, where the croupier at the roulette wheel presses a button to enable the young couple to win enough to buy the prized plane tickets to Lisbon.

Except this time, it would be the bad guys who pushed the button. And it would be the good guys who lost.

And no one likes a story like that.

Absent a public reckoning, people will always wonder who took a powder, who was in the bag, who was intellectually dishonest, and who was just plain clueless. And a cloud will remain over the entire process.

So, NCAA and BCS should welcome and investigation so that they can clear the name of the BCS and any misunderstandings or controversies that surround Texas's berth in the Rose Bowl.

Unless, of course, there is something to hide.

It's funny, because the BCS schools are in a no-win situation, in a sport where, given the recent voting, winning seems to matter so much.

Especially when the jackpot for a BCS bowl game appearance is about $14-$17 million.

Hopefully, the integrity of major college football is worth a whole lot more than that.


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