Anyone who is a college football fan knows that the current Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is far from perfect. Let's be serious, it's just a tad better than the old system where the AP sports writers and coaches would pick the top two teams. I feel like that system gave East Coast teams an advantage because the West Coast games were played so late that those that voted had no interest in staying up to watch them. Sure you could look at the score in the paper the next day, but everyone knows that the score is not always indicative of the game. So what is the best way to pick the two teams that should play in the championship game?
The first few times the BCS commissioners met, one of the possibilities was to have a 16-team playoff system the way they do in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), the former D I-AA, where Georgia Southern won the national championship six times. Then they decided to make it an eight-team playoff system. The reason those systems won't work is because the NCAA, for monetary reasons, wants to keep the bowls involved.
The problem with a multi-game system is that the average fan will not be able to afford to attend the games necessary to play for the national championship. A friend of mine and Sig Ep fraternity brother, Chris Edgar, went to the BCS national championship game this year. Even though he was able to save some money using miles for part of his airfare, and the fact that he also stayed with a friend, the trip still was relatively expensive considering that he went by himself. Assuming that a person is not in a position to stay with friends and use miles to cut flying costs, it could easily cost well upward of $2,000 and possibly close to $3,000 if you have to get your ticket from a "street vendor" -- a kind way to say scalper. Now double that if you want to take a spouse or date. Imagine paying that for two or four games.
The reason it works in the FCS is because like the NFL, the home team hosts the game so there isn't a concern to fill the stadium. The only time the game is played at a neutral site is the championship game. But to do that it would eliminate some bowl games, which could be a good thing considering that 35 games being played are too many in the first place.
Then there was talk of only having the conference championship teams in the playoff games. That would help out the weaker conferences that only have one powerhouse team, but other conferences like the SEC would suffer. If that were the case, then Alabama would not have been the 2012 BCS champion.
The other plan was what they called Plus-One. The Plus-One would have the top-two ranked teams play after the five BCS games. But as was the case this year when Alabama and LSU played, that would have meant that they would play for the third time that season. But luckily that was voted down to the current format which is a four-team playoff.
However, the problem I see with that is a lot of times the No. 5-ranked team beat one of the top-four or they have the same record as the No. 4 or No. 3 team.
No matter what angle or scenario I look at, there is no perfect system if the NCAA wants to keep their relationship with all the bowl-game sponsors. It's like they want to have their cake and eat it, too. Once again, the problem is generating money. This reminds me the O.B. Keeler character in the movie "Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius." After punching out a professional golfer for bad mouthing Bobby Jones, he said "Money is going to ruin sports." It looks like this could be one of those times. Rather than do what's right for the game, the NCAA and the conferences are more concerned on how to keep the money flowing.
Manny Fils is a sports writer for The Citizen. Fils can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.