January 7, 2010

Is today's BCS Championship game worth watching?

Usually college football's unofficial national championship game (since the NCAA doesn't sanction an official champion in FBS football, the BCS system doesn't count) would hold great interest. In most years it matches the two most dynamic teams in the country against each other, and this question would rarely be asked. However, there are two cases in which the championship game is meaningless. The first is if the matchup is between teams with losses and there is a serious contender sitting on the outside. The second is if there are many undefeated teams, and even one loss teams that are worthy of playing but are not. One weakness of a system without a playoff is that under both of these scenarios, the BCS national championship game counts for nothing.

There is no question that Alabama and Texas, the two teams playing tonight, are good teams. The question is whether they are the best. Texas has romped through a Big 12 this year that is far from strong, and has had unimpressive wins outside of their conference. Alabama has more legitimacy after beating Florida, but has had some serious close calls over the year. The question isn't whether they are among the best teams in college football. The question is whether they have any right to call themselves the best two.

Other teams that could legitimately claim some right to play for a championship include TCU, Boise State, and even some of the other one-loss teams in other BCS games (and Cincinnati before being destroyed by Florida). With so much uncertainty and a guarantee that there will be at least 2 undefeated teams emerging after bowl season, does the BCS national championship really settle anything?

College football needs to get a playoff in its highest division. It should scale back on the number of patsies each team plays early in the year and focus on creating excitement later in the season. The bowl season is almost worthless to watch because so many games are absolutely meaningless. They don't really generate any additional profit for the towns that host them. They only help to profit those people who create the bowls and the conference commissioners at the expense of the athletes and the fans. There is no reason to have the bowl system at all.

Of course the game will still be exciting if Texas' offense decides to show up. Still, the Big 12 Championship game was much more exciting, as was the SEC championship and Cincinnati's game against Pittsburgh. College football, then, is possibly the only sport where the chase to get to the championship game is better to watch than the championship itself. Though it'll be interesting to watch, don't count yourself as having missed much if you have something else to do tonight.

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