Morris: BCS playoffs are working just fine

October 27, 2009 

The last thing college football's Bowl Championship Series needs is intervention from Washington politicians, especially since the playoff system works.

We are entering the ninth week of the playoffs, and all is well. Most of the pretenders for the national championship have been eliminated. The remaining field of contenders will be pared down over the next six weeks to the final two that will play for the BCS championship.

Lest you have forgotten, the sole purpose of the BCS is to determine the two participants in the national championship game. If you did not know, the BCS has worked well since its inception for the 1998 season.

For that reason alone, President Obama and his cohorts on Capitol Hill need to mind their business, that being the running of the country. Obama, you may recall, said during his presidential campaign that he would like to see a college football playoff system.

Then along came Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, and Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, to co-sponsor The Championship Fairness Act of 2009. They proposed FBS schools not be allowed to accept federal funding unless a playoff system is established.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, also jumped into the fray. He wants the Mountain West Conference, which includes his hometown schools of Utah and Brigham Young, to be included in the BCS. More recently, a group of college football fans formed the Playoff PAC. Its goal is to elect members of Congress who will fight for a playoff system.

Shouldn't Congress fix a system that does not work - say, health care - instead of one that needs tweaking but generally works fine?

Steve Spurrier, like most college football coaches, long has pushed for a playoff system.

"Like President Obama said, 'How difficult is it to get eight teams and go play?' " Spurrier said.

With apologies to the president - and to Spurrier - it would be pretty difficult. To do so, the NCAA would have to disband bowl tie-ins and the bowl system. Good luck attempting to get every conference and bowl to endorse that proposal.

Spurrier points out that his 1996 Florida team would not have won the national championship under the current BCS system. Florida State and Arizona State were the only 11-0 teams at the end of the regular season, and Florida was next in line at 10-1.

Under BCS rules, Florida State and Arizona State would have played for the national championship. As it turned out, Florida was the SEC representative in the Sugar Bowl and defeated Florida State, which received an at-large invitation. Arizona State lost to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.

Two years later, the BCS was instituted as a better way to determine the two best teams in the country. For the most part, it has succeeded.

In 2001, Nebraska should not have played in the title game after losing to Colorado 62-36 in the regular-season finale. The point was rendered moot, though, because Miami was the best team in the country and proved it in the Rose Bowl.

Southern California, LSU and Oklahoma all had a right to claim the national title in 2003, and unbeaten Auburn got left out of the mix in 2004. Otherwise, the two best teams have played, just as they did a season ago when No. 2 Florida defeated unbeaten and No. 1 Oklahoma.

"Generally, it's worked," Spurrier conceded, however reluctantly. "It's worked a little bit."

The BCS works because the regular season essentially operates as the playoffs. Every game is of utmost importance because any loss could eliminate a team. As we head down the homestretch of the regular season, we have reached the quarterfinals of the playoffs.

Two weeks into the BCS rankings, this is about the time fans begin to scream, "It's not going to work this year!" Every year at this time, fans also need to be reminded to let the season play out.

Of the 120 FBS teams, eight remain in contention for the national championship. They are unbeaten Florida, Alabama, Texas, Iowa, TCU, Boise State and Cincinnati, as well as one-loss Southern California.

Even if TCU and Boise State win their remaining games, they are highly unlikely to climb above the teams ahead of them in the standings. Some claim that is unfair, but the truth is neither TCU nor Boise State plays a schedule comparable to any team in the power conferences.

Having watched both teams play this season, there is no doubt in my mind that neither would go unbeaten in the ACC, let alone in the SEC or Big 12. For those teams to win a national championship, they must play -and defeat - four powerful BCS nonconference opponents in one season.

Iowa, Cincinnati and Southern California are likely to lose another game by the end of the regular season. That leaves Florida, Alabama and Texas competing for the title-game spots. A Florida-Alabama matchup in the SEC Championship Game will serve as an elimination game.

Of course, that is all speculation. But so is mindless chatter that the BCS can't possibly work again this season. My scenario is much more likely to play out than that of the naysayers, mostly because I have history on my side.

The BCS system usually works, and it will again this season. The next time you are in Washington, tell that to President Obama.

Listen to Morris Tuesdays from 4-5 p.m. on ESPN Radio 93.1 FM

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