And This Is Why College Football Is Not As Popular As It Can Be

Well I started to watch last night’s BCS title game. But I stopped. I found The Bachelor to be far more entertaining than the “big boy” football I was being subjected to. Although based on the Twitter explosion after the game it wasn’t hard to know who won, or what the implications were. There was quite a vocal minority of people online hoping for a “split championship” to happen. For those who may not know, a split championship is when one team wins the USA Today poll and a different team wins the AP poll. Well, didn’t happen, but this just shows a huge, gaping flaw of college football that hampers it from being as popular and loved as it could be.

You see, last night’s “championship” game wasn’t that at all. In fact, of the 60 voters in the AP poll, only 55 voted the winner of the “championship” game as the champion. One of them picked the team that lost. Four others picked a team that didn’t even play in the “championship” game. As if that is not confusing enough, let’s look at all the other things wrong with the AP poll.

USC is ranked No. 6 and Stanford is ranked No. 7. USC finished 10-2 with no bowl appearance and Stanford finished 11-2 with an OT bowl loss. Stanford beat USC when the two met during the season. Stanford’s only losses came to the teams the AP ranked No. 3 and No. 4. USC’s two losses came to the team ranked directly below them and a team that finished 6-7 and nowhere near ranked. And yet, there they were, USC ranked one spot ahead of Stanford.

Kansas State finished 10-3 at No. 15 and Oklahoma finished 10-3 at No. 16. Oklahoma beat Kansas State 58-17…at Kansas State. The ranking of two teams with identical records should be solved by looking at the head-to-head matchup if there was one. These two met in the regular season and it wasn’t even a game, it was an embarrassment. But 60 oracles of college football knowledge determined Kansas State was better than Oklahoma.

Virginia Tech finished 11-3 and ranked No. 21 while Clemson finished 10-4 and ranked No. 22. This might make sense at first glance, except that Clemson beat Virginia Tech…twice. First 23-3 at Virginia Tech and then 38-10 in the ACC Championship game. Nothing could be more clear than that Clemson is better than Virginia Tech.

Yup, these 60 brilliant individuals alone determine who is the national champion, not the results of the national “championship” game. Oh, then there are the 59 coaches in the USA Today poll. They are obligated to vote Alabama as No. 1 so no surprise there.

I think it is worth pointing out that the Pac-12, Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Conference USA and MAC all played conference championship games. The winners of each of those games were crowned conference champions. There was no vote on it following the game.

So this is why there are so many people out there who hate college football. The entire rankings system is completely bizarre. The BCS system is shrouded in mystery. The average person doesn’t get it. Keep in mind, the AP and USA Today release polls for college basketball as well. But the NCAA champion is whoever wins the March Madness tournament, not whoever wins a vote. Votes should only used to determine the winners of elections and figure skating competitions. Voting has no place in college football.

If rankings are so important let the AP, USA Today or anyone else release a poll. But for goodness sake you don’t have “split championships” or use those polls in any way to crown a champion. You hold a championship game and the winner is the champion. Period. Now who gets to play in that championship game and how they are chosen is a very controversial matter. Any sensible person capable of using reason and logic can see the BCS system is deeply flawed and incredibly stupid.

That is why we need a real champion to make college football a real sport. This isn’t gymnastics where a select few determine who is better. This is football. There are scoreboards that determine which team is better. What we need isn’t just a single championship game, we need a championship series. Curious…BCS does stand for Bowl Championship Series…but anyway, we need a playoff, a tournament, a series of matchups between the top teams in the country. Winner takes all.

There is a simple way to do this. Make the playoff consist of 8 teams. Any team that wins their conference and finishes the season ranked No. 14 or better in the final BCS standings is in. Any independent who finishes the season ranked No. 8 or better in the final BCS standings is in. If more than 8 teams qualify, you simply go with the 8 highest ranked in the BCS standings. If less than 8 qualify, you take the highest ranked teams remaining and put them in the playoff until you have 8 teams.

The weekend after Army-Navy, 8 plays at 1, 7 plays at 2, 6 plays at 3 and 5 plays at 4. Then let the bowl games go on their normal schedule. The day before the Rose Bowl (or Saturday before if the Rose Bowl is a Monday,) you have the semi-finals where the two lower seeds remaining play at the two higher seeds remaining. More bowls continue on their normal schedules. Championship game is the second Monday of January, just like it is now, at a neutral site, just like it is now. This can be a bowl, an NFL stadium, whatever. Rotate it, put it up to highest bidder, whatever. That’s for someone else to decide. Just make it a neutral field.

How difficult is that? Everyone has a chance to get in, class schedules are not interrupted as the games are played simultaneously with the already approved bowl games, very few teams play very few extra games on top of what they would under the current system and there is a lot more money to be had. There is literally no downside. And best of all, the winner of the championship game is the champion, the way it should be. No split titles. No votes. You win the championship and you are the champion. Just like with basketball. Just like with all other competitive team sports.