Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.
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Stagecoach I spent all of last Sunday glued to my laptop, patrolling message boards, Twitter and blogs for every scrap of information about the final Bowl Championship Series poll, which at that point was due out in a few hours.
I was desperate for any hint as to what teams would be selected to fill in the BCS’s nonchampionship games, and every moment brought a new rumor, and every rumor a new scenario.
In the end, I was let down in a big way. My Kansas State Wildcats didn’t make the cut as an at-large BCS selection and were cast to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas instead of being rewarded with a trip to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, as many had predicted.
I was furious. There’s little logic that can be summed up by that decision, little football sense that could have gone into it. Rather, it was a bad decision that was the product of a bad system.
There’s really no defending the BCS — I wouldn’t dare — but I wish the arguments against it were more focused.
As an example, pointing to Oklahoma State’s absence from this year’s BCS championship game and holding it up as a major BCS flaw is a mistake. I was rooting for the polls to flip and for ’Bama to slip as much as anyone outside of the SEC, but Roll Tide’s argument was no worse than the Cowboys’. Sure, the prospect of a rematch with LSU is sickening to some of us, but so is the idea of a national champion that lost to a very, very average Iowa State team.
If you think title game rematches shouldn’t be allowed, fine. Let’s make the BCS pass that rule. But it’s not a rule that was there this year, and amidst a field of flawed squads, there simply was no team better than Alabama.
My fellow Wildcats and the equally-spurned Boise State fans need to be more focused in their attacks, as well. So many seem to mistake the BCS selection process with the NCAA basketball tournament selection process. It’s important to remember they have nothing whatsoever to do with each other. They have no common history and they have but one common goal: naming a national champ.
There’s nothing anywhere else in sports like bowl games, and that’s easy to forget. Although it’s funny to think of it, because they’re all about making money off college sports, bowl games are pre-ESPN. Every other sport has endured huge changes since the days when it made sense to pair randomly assigned teams to play at vacation spots on the far ends of the country.
Many of the ideas to replace the bowl system also try to save it, turning bowl games into playoff games. That’s fine, but for the whole affair to become what everyone wants, it’s important they be bowl games in nothing but name.
Virginia Tech has no business in the Sugar Bowl, and none of the explanations officials have offered up since make the slightest amount of sense. As rotten as the Sugar Bowl selection process was, however, it’s only representative of a far larger problem. America’s bowl games must embrace strict slotting systems, must embrace some sort of playoff and must do away with the cronyism that’s defined their existence if they hope to continue to exist at all.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com