BCS Buster: Sorting out Oklahoma State and Alabama
You can't spell controversy without BCS. Well, you can definitely find the "C" and the "S" in there somewhere, so I think it's natural to assume that the "B" just stands for something that comes out of a bull. Because that's exactly what the system is as a whole.
In principle, the BCS sounds great. With a mantra like "every game counts", it sounds like a system that lends weight to every single week of the season, and I think it's a premise that we could all get behind. Week 1 is just as important as Week 10, and the entire college football season matters.
Unfortunately, that's not true. So get your facts straight. Every game doesn't count, and picking a national champion isn't a science, so we should leave the formulas at home.
I'll try to steer clear of the "P" word, because it's undoubtedly the best way to determine a championship, but who needs another column droning on about the subject simply to placate the masses? The BCS stinks in comparison, but here we sit nonetheless.
Like it or not, the BCS is here to stay for now. It's the cousin who came to stay for a couple of weeks and wound up staying for 14 years. Luckily, he's not just pitching in on the rent, this guy's bringing home the bacon. You might not be sure how he earns his living, and even though you're suspicious of the means, at least the bills are getting paid.
It should also be noted, that it's a whole lot better than it was before. During 56 years with the Bowl Coalition and the Bowl Alliance (which both sound like organizations that Jimmy Hoffa would proudly be a part of), collegiate football pitted the AP No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country against each other just eight times. In 14 years, the BCS has gotten the job done 11 times.
That being said, any system would be better than the previous system, which allowed multiple national championship claims during the same season. Hell, in comparison to previous methods, you might as well just take any team capable of using the transitive property to make a case and give them a really big trophy.
"We only won three games, but we beat a team, that beat a team, that lost really close to a team, that beat the No. 1 team in the nation..... so we're better." It doesn't exactly work that way (although it's safe to say that we'd have a lot more Vanderbilt national title claims.)
It might not be what we want, but the BCS is an improvement. Yet, people seemed to have taken exception to last night's proceedings, and the debate will unquestionably rage over the course of the next month. Who deserved to battle LSU for the title? Alabama or Oklahoma State?
To start, we're asking the wrong question. Deserved is a tricky word because it implies a sense of entitlement, and it leaves a lot left for interpretation. Plenty of schools DESERVE a chance at the national championship, now if we could only deduce some sort of tournament that allowed all of these schools to compete on an even playing field. Alas, we're stuck with the BCS.
So, the better question would be, "Who is the better football team?" Ultimately, it's not about who you WANT to see or what entertains you, because if that's your criteria for scheduling a national title we're even worse off than we thought. At the end of the day, it's about the best football team. Unfortunately, that's not exactly cut and dry either.
You can stack resumes until you are blue in the face, and more often than not you can come up with an educated guess. However, in this case, you could make a checkmate argument for both Oklahoma State and Alabama if you were truly motivated to do so.
Maybe we should narrow our focus even more. If the two teams were to play on a neutral field, who would win?
Ok. Now we're getting somewhere.
It's still not definitive, but at least now you're heading in the right direction of truly determining which team is the best. But, since we're still working with a hypothetical, you could still theoretically make an argument for either team. If only we could develop some sort of additional game to determine once and for all which team deserved to move on to the true national title game.
Oklahoma State or Alabama? It's a true conundrum. If only we could come up with some way to settle this. If only there were some sort of technology that allowed us to do such things.