The countdown is 696 hours — give or take a Colt McCoy miscalculation of the game clock — to when the top two undefeated teams in college football from the 2009 championship season show up at Rose Bowl to determine the NCAA’s top team.
With all is shredded and done up, either current No. 1 Alabama, by virtue of the fact that it defeated previous No. 1 Florida in the SEC championship, or current No. 2 Texas, by virtue of the fact a replay official decided there was one second left in its Big 12 Championship game against Nebraska and a face-saving field goal could be attempted, will have a wreath of roses placed around their necks by 9 p.m. January 7, 2010.
Yet, there could still be three undefeated teams left standing when all the bowls are finished.
Who ever said life, or the Bowl Championship Series, was fair?
The only really fair thing, sorta, is that after a couple of months of unproven promises, fumbled opportunities and a perfectly timed McCoy brain cramp, the current five undefeated major and pretty-major college football teams are ranked in the top six.
That’s unprecidented in the 12 years of BCS fiacso. See, the BCS can always surprise you with another historic blunder.
By the team Alabama (13-0) has a date with Texas (13-0), the Fiesta Bowl will have already determined a winner between long-forgotten No. 4 Texas Christian (12-0) and who really cares No. 6 Boise State (13-0) which will, for the sake of argument, keep the whining alive. That’s a matchup made in hell that they’re already saying could challenge the all-time BCS low TV rating of 5.4 set by last season’s Virginia Tech-Cincinnati meeting in the Orange Bowl.
But then there’s No. 3 Cincinnati (12-0), where life sucks. You’ve made your bed, and are now told your pillows aren’t fluffed enough. You’ve survived your schedule, got invited to play with the big boys, but you’re not going to win the showcase showdown.
Your consolation prize is the BCS hoping that former No. 1 (and current No. 5, and only once-beaten team) Florida (12-1) mashes you up in the Sugar Bowl so it doesn’t have to think of you — or that Orange Bowl from a year ago — for another eight months.
“The system works better now than it’s ever worked,” Mitch Dorger, the soon-to-be-departing Rose Bowl chief executive officer, was recently quoted as saying.
Better than what?
At $275 a ticket for the BCS title game — that’s face value — it’s a morally flawed, money-generating system that works depending on who ends up with the No. 1 and No. 2 rankings.
In this case, Cincinnati lmost decidedly lost the beauty pageant to far-uglier, but more historically robust Texas squad.
Those who played for the Longhorns this season may agree that their record doesn’t reflect their performance, but the BCS can look at itself in the mirror and at least know that name brands sell, and
Bearclaws, er, Bearcats just confuse people (is that a cross between a bear and a kitten? It just ain’t natural).
Not that computer data should be the final determinant on who goes where — but it does, so we do take it into account. The current BCS rankings has Cincinnati with an ACR (average computer ranking) of No. 2, one spot ahead of Texas. Cincinnati is ranked No. 2 by the Anderson & Hester poll, as well as by Peter Wolf poll. It’s no. 3 by three others, and No. 4 by another. Throwing out the highest and lowest score, as is proceedure, the four remaining polls are added and divided by 100 to produce a Computer Rankings Percentage that declares the Bearcats worthy of a trip to Pasadena.
Not so far, my human friends.
The problem for Cincinnati was that those with financial stake in all this don’t agree. The two people polls used here — Harris and the USA Today Coaches — have Cincinnati all the way back at No. 4. Since the two human polls are 2/3 thirds of the grade against 1/3 computer average, Cincinnati’s overall ranking stablized at No. 3.
Because a Texas team that was less-than-impressive in not beating anyone ranked above No. 20 in the final polls stayed at No. 2 in both human polls, mostly because that’s where it started the season and then really didn’t drop anywhere during the long haul — it edged ahead of the hard-charging Cincinnati, despite the fact that the Longhorns’ ranking was below the Bearcats in four of the six computers.
So the BCS title game was humanely prevented having a Alabama-Cincinnati matchup.
If Cincinnati defeats Florida in the Sugar, the best it can hope for, by virtue of the BCS system, is a No. 2 overall ranking, behind the Texas-Alabama winner. That doesn’t even factor in how TCU and Boise State will play out, with one of them left unblemished by the whole charade.
Yet, some contend this is all still a good thing.
The headline on a Wall Street Journal posting (linked here) says the “BCS computers have actually made progress.”
The WSJ argument is that in 2004, when five teams were also undefeated before the bowls, the rankings didn’t reflect how tighly bunched they were. USC and Oklahoma made it to the Orange Bowl to play the national title. After the Trojans won, there were four unbeatens left. No. 3 Auburn and No. 6 Utah never got a sniff of the title shot, and No. 10 Boise State was left out of all the BCS bowls.
“In college football, this marks progress,” writes WJR’s Carl Bialik. “Every undefeated team appears to be ranked pretty fairly, and each one got a plum bowl-game matchup. There’s still no playoff, and therefore still the reality that some teams had no chance to win the national title when the season started. But two out of three ain’t bad.”
When we’re determining national championships in the most lucurative NCAA sport by a system that “ain’t bad” after all these years, it’s not a kind reflection on this system of higher education. This is the kind of progress they use in measuring how long it takes your freezer to defrost these days compared to the mid-’60s.
Those who obtained a degree from a major university have to look at this system and wonder: Are we missing something? How did this get so dumbed down? Where’s Billy Packer to at least show some outrage?
If I’m a graduate of the University of Cincinnati right now, considering booking a trip to New Orleans to celebrate the possibility of an unbeaten season but no realistic chance at a payoff for it, why bother?
The logic is just as flawed as everything else related to this BCS structure. You get caught up in paying $1,000 for a trip, ticket and hotel stay — and for what? For the chance to claim No. 2?
In this set, there are the saints. And the sinners. And then there’s Cincy.
Susie Cincinnati we thought you were a winner
Susie Cincinnati, city’s number one sinner
== The Beach Boys