The Promised Lande: Sorting the BCS Mess

With Tennessee and LSU facing off in the Georgia Dome for the Southeastern Conference title last Saturday, every college football aficionado had his eyes on Atlanta. The Vols-Tigers rematch—the only major conference game of the weekend—was supposed to finally determine Miami’s opponent in the Rose Bowl.

Instead, when the No. 20 Tigers pulled out a 31-20 upset over No. 2 Tennessee, the answer to an enigmatic college football season was still missing. Colorado? Nebraska? Oregon? Hell, how about Maryland? Actually, forget Maryland.

When the computers completed calculating and the writers finished tabulating, No. 4 Nebraska clinched the second spot in the (mythical) national title game, beating out No. 3 Colorado by .05 points, a margin much closer than the 62-37 massacre the Huskers endured at the hands of the Buffs just three weeks ago.

How close is .05 points?

Well, that’s so close, that if Colorado would have scored another two touchdowns against Oklahoma State on October 27, the Huskers would be living it up in Tempe instead of Pasadena.

That’s so close that if the Buffs would have been ranked just one position higher in any of eight computer polls, Heisman trophy winner Eric Crouch would be headlining the Fiesta Bowl.

That’s so close that if Southern Miss quarterback Jeff Kelly would have thrown a touchdown pass instead of an interception while trailing TCU by two points late on Friday night, Nebraska’s strength of schedule would have dropped from No. 14 to No. 22, costing it .32 points and the chance at a (mythical) national title.

That’s right. As much as Nebraska fans love Crouch, it was a Conference USA quarterback that was responsible for salvaging the Huskers’ season.

Now, I am quite sure that this is what BCS guru Roy Kramer had in mind when he pushed the inane system into reality four years ago. It really is the best way to decide things, and other sports should check into implementing the system as well.

Wouldn’t March Madness be so much more captivating if, after the conclusion of the conference tournaments, two teams were chosen to face off for the national title? The rest of the 62 teams could be paired off to play in variations of the meaningless “ Bowl.” Now that is excitement.

Who cares about the thrill of the playoffs. We’ll just put Duke and whoever happens to be No. 2 in the rankings into a one-game championship. No Cinderellas. No upsets. No justice. No chance to win a title on the court. Perfect.

This season, HuskerNation loves the BCS, but besides that red mass of humanity and some ABC/ESPN employees fearing for their jobs, no one is that enamored with the current system. Well, except for the major conferences and TV networks who stand to make huge profits under the current system.

The system’s two proponents—Kramer and ABC analyst Terry Bowden—ask us what system would be better at determining a national champion.

There are many possibilities. Maybe an eight-team playoff is too simple. Maybe we could conduct an online fan poll at Two kids could play a virtual season using NCAA 2002 for PS2. We could tally GameDay appearances. We could tally player felonies (misdemeanors count for .5). The coaches could always thumb-wrestle for the right to play if all else failed.

Or, how about a complicated compilation of one media poll, one coaches’ poll, eight computer polls, a strength of schedule index and a quality win adjustment that results in a team that lost its last game by 25 points playing for the title. Wait, we already do that.

Each of these proposals has its merit, but in total seriousness one is the best answer to our problem. Have you seen the graphics on NCAA 2002?