Here we go again. The Bowl Championship Series naysayers are out in full force, as they are every year at this time. There are the Average Joe fans singing the blues about the bad system for selecting the teams. There are the college football coaches attempting to rig the results. Then there is ESPNs Kirk Herbstreit chiming in Sunday night about the injustice of it all.
Please, spare me.
Read the next sentence very carefully: The BCS is designed and exists for one express purpose, and that purpose is to match the two best teams in the country in the BCS National Championship Game. The rest of the BCS system of selecting bowl teams is mere window-dressing to the ultimate goal.
Once again, the system worked. Very few would argue against the matchup of No. 1 and undefeated Notre Dame against No. 2 Alabama, which is once-beaten but waving the championship flag of the best conference in the country, the SEC.
So, why the uproar?
Apparently because these naysayers cant argue against the national championship game matchup, they have turned on the rest of the BCS system that selects the teams for the Orange, Sugar, Rose and Fiesta Bowls.
Fans, college coaches and now, apparently, Herbstreit, believe the matchups in the other BCS bowls should only include the top teams in the country. Perhaps they forgot to read the BCS rules, which were designed by college administrators to make certain every college has at least a chance however slim to play in a BCS bowl.
In essence, the selection of teams for the BCS bowls looks after the conferences that are not going to compete annually for the national championship the ACC and Big East as well as the little guys of college football from the mid-major conferences such as the Mid-American and Mountain West.
It seems like the democratic way to go, and has allowed the Boise States and TCUs of the college football world something to shoot for each season other than playing in another sorry bowl game in Albuquerque or Birmingham.
If the BCS bowls were designed to pair up the next best eight teams in the country, we would not be having this discussion.
Instead, the BCS rules call for conference champions from the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC along with two at-large teams to receive bids. There are a couple of stipulations with those at-large selections, including one that says a non-qualifying conference team finishing 16th or higher in the BCS rankings receives an automatic bid.
Thus, Northern Illinois with a 12-1 record, MAC championship and No. 15 ranking in the BCS standings, received an at-large bid to play Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
But, instead of celebrating the chance of a lifetime for a smaller school, the likes of Herbstreit began howling about how bad the BCS system is when something like this happens.
I love MAC football, but to put them in the BCS is an absolute joke to the rest of those teams that are more deserving, Herbstreit said Sunday on ESPN. I cant believe were even having this discussion.
Herbstreit added it was a sad state for college football.
If Herbstreit had dug a little deeper he would have found what truly represents a sad state of college football. That was the four Big 12 coaches among five who voted who attempted to rig the USA Today Coaches Poll so Northern Illinois would not finish in the top 16 in the BCS rankings. That was so fellow league member Oklahoma would get the at-large BCS bowl bid.
Oklahomas Bob Stoops, Baylors Art Briles, Iowa States Paul Rhoads and West Virginias Dana Holgorsen all either voted Oklahoma No. 6 and/or Northern Illinois No. 24 in the final regular-season poll, according to USA Today. No other voter among the 59 total had Oklahoma higher than No. 8 and only one other coach had Northern Illinois No. 24 or lower, according to the newspaper.
Oklahoma, which ended at No. 11 in the poll, got a sixth-place vote from Stoops, who put Northern Illinois at No. 24. OK, it is understandable for Stoops to vote in a manner that helps his team. But for the others to vote the way they did was shameless on a couple of counts.
First, good luck when those coaches address their teams in the future on the subject of integrity. Also, can you imagine the message that would have been sent to Northern Illinois if it was denied a BCS bid because of the shady voting practices of a few coaches?
No doubt, there is much to complain about with the bowl system, starting with why the NCAA granted a waiver for a 6-7 Georgia Tech team to play in the Sun Bowl at the expense of a 7-5 Middle Tennessee team that walloped the Yellow Jackets during the regular season. Or, why 10 of the 35 bowl games will have at least one team with a 6-6 or worse record.
The BCS system, though? Not worthy of complaints.