Greetings Duck Fans & FishDuck enthusiasts.
I wanted to start my first column here on FishDuck with a quick hello! Many of you may already know me, but if you don’t very briefly I have been an insane Duck fan since birth, going to games at Auzten since 5, and in the last couple years I have created Oregon Ducks Vlogs (video blogs), as well as producing the 2011 Duck anthem “O-Time” with the local Portland artist XILE.
I really am excited to be a part of the most comprehensive Oregon Ducks website around, FishDuck.com, to be on a team of incredible experts and have the privilege to write about our beloved Ducks!
“Playoffs? Playoffs? You wanna talk about playoffs, playoffs???” Jim Mora once so eloquently spoke, and has never lived it down since, along with his epic comments about how his team couldn’t do “diddley poo” in a postgame interview shortly before he was fired. His son Jim Mora Jr. now takes over the head coach position at UCLA from the carnage left behind by Rick “Neuweasel” Neuheisel, but that’s another rant for another time.
YES, playoffs! Absolutely, playoffs! Why are there not playoffs? This sentiment has been often lamented by many, but rarely if ever logically explained by anyone.
Unless you have been unaware blissfully living underneath a rock this season, two teams from the same conference and the same division are playing for a “National” Championship. While both teams are genuinely great teams, this further fuels the flame (outside of the SEC of course) for a NCAA Playoff System within FBS College Football. The FCS (lower subdivision) has successfully operated a playoff system for years, so why does the top-level league get stuck with this B(c)S system while the little brothers get to fight it to see who legitimately is king of the hill? College basketball, volleyball, and soccer all have tournaments to determine the collegiate national champion, so why do computers spit out the theoretical best two and all others get left in the cold with some consolation prize bowl game?
For as long as the BCS has existed, my friends and I have discussed what a potential playoff system could or should look like as a logical alternative to this sham of a championship structure currently set in place. The BCS’ initial intent to pair up the #1 and #2 team in the country each season has left the door open to a lot of scrutiny, controversy, and the appearance of a biased and flawed system. Every year they try to tweak the formula, and every year there is outcry over how wrong the BCS got things yet again.
So while it is extremely difficult to please everyone within a playoff system, the BCS holds all the cards when it comes to college football as it stands now. From the lowest fan all the way up to the President of the United States, the public outcry to switch to a playoff system has been nearly unanimous, except from those profiting greatly from the status quo. The BCS has money, power and the clout to make something happen for the betterment of the sport but refuses to budge. It stands to reason that nearly all parties involved would stand to make considerably more each bowl season as a result of a playoff system, however it may be structured.
It is sadly not up to me personally to change the system, but let me indulge these thoughts for a moment. Whether or not we see a playoff system emerge someday is unknown, but we can certainly hope, but if I were NCAA President Mark Emmert here is how I would structure it.
The new Jared Sawyer FBS Playoff Structure
The rules would be simplified and utilize all of the tools the current system has, this doesn’t have to be rocket science to figure out, although sometimes it seems like they are making it to be as the most complicated computer formulas ever devised by man currently dictate which teams play. Simply put, at the end of each season the BCS would take the top eight teams from the BCS, rather than the top two.
The max amount of teams from any given conference or independent schools would be two, period. If three or more schools from the same conference finish in the BCS Top-8 at season’s end (which almost happened this year with the SEC having LSU, Alabama, and Arkansas in the top-10, as would the Pac-12 if USC weren’t ineligible) the lowest-ranked team would be replaced by the next highest-ranked team from a different conference (you will see how this works below shortly).
If independent schools think they’re so good, well join a conference and prove it, but for now Notre Dame and the rest of you indies no longer get special treatment just because you don’t want to share with the group. Especially you Notre Dame, yes I’m talking to you Notre Dame hiding in the corner pretending I don’t see you. Your special agreement with the BCS for higher bowl payouts is unfair to the rest of the class, just because you think you’re special doesn’t actually mean that you are, it’s been decades since you were relevant regardless of what Beano Cook and Lou Holtz think. If you’re not going to bring enough gum to share with everybody than don’t bring any at all, join a conference!
Oregon fans may recall the 2000 season, when a three-way-tie between Washington, OSU, and Oregon at the top of the Pac-10 left the Ducks going to the Holiday Bowl while the Huskies and Beavers both received BCS bowl bids. Did we cry about it in our beers? Yes, yes we did. But based on the tie-breakers it made sense. If Oregon had not lost to Wisconsin to open the year or Harrington not earned the wretched nickname “Joey-Five Pick” in Corvallis in the Civil War, then things might have been different but as it stood Oregon earned the bowl game they played in by the performance on the field, not because somebody’s computer said so.
*After this year the UCLA Clause would need to be added as well, stipulating that in order to participate in the playoff a team must be bowl eligible i.e. have a winning record. Thankfully we did not have to experience a UCLA representative Pac-12 champion in the Rose Bowl this year, but it could have happened.
So the “BCS Playoff” format would still include playing in all four major bowl games that currently exist; the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange Bowl. Or the Vizio, Tostitos, Allstate, and Discover Bowl if you prefer going by sponsor. Gotta love that Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl too! I anxiously await the grand tradition of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, I wonder if they’ll switch the field from that God-awful blue to potato brown? I digress…
The new format would have the winner of the Rose Bowl play the winner of the Fiesta Bowl, for a BCS Western Championship.
The winner of the Sugar Bowl would play the winner of the Orange Bowl for a BCS Eastern Championship.
Then the winners from each regional BCS Championship would square off for the National Championship, held at Jerry’s World a.k.a. Dallas Cowboys Stadium, the greatest (or at least most expensive) football stadium ever built, conveniently located in the middle of the country, in an attempt to be as neutral as possible. Yeah, as Oregon fans we know how “neutral” it is when playing teams within a relatively short driving distance, but indulge me here, this is MY system.
If my BCS playoff format was in place this season, here is how it would look. (Keep in mind Arkansas & South Carolina would not be eligible as they would violate the two team per-conference rule)
Sugar Bowl (#1 LSU vs #8 Wisconsin) Orange Bowl (#3 Oklahoma St. vs #6 Boise St.)
Fiesta Bowl (#2 Bama vs #7 Kansas St.) Rose Bowl (#4 Stanford vs #5 Oregon)
And as long as this is my fantasy, I’ll go ahead and pick the winners for you. Yes, you’re welcome.
Sugar Bowl winner #1 LSU vs Orange Bowl winner #3 Oklahoma St
Fiesta winner #2 Bama vs Rose Bowl winner #5 Oregon
Seriously, look at those match ups! One extra week of college football, and you get to see two more incredible games. Fans would travel, stadiums would sell out, and the BCS would make tons of money off of it all. Win, win, win…as Charlie Sheen put it, “Duh, WINNING!”
Also we could finally put to rest the argument about the inevitable good team that emerges each year from non-BCS conferences, as we have seen in past years with Boise State, TCU, Hawaii, Utah, and Houston. Well, Boise State, Boise State, Boise State, Boise State, TCU, Boise State, Utah, Boise State, Boise State, Hawaii, Boise State, Boise State, Houston, and Boise State seems more proper, like the infamous Monty Python ‘spam’ sketch. Granted, half of those teams are now in BCS conference, but you get my point.
Now ponder the disappointment and general malaise emitting from everywhere except SEC country about the current championship game between LSU and Alabama. If there were two teams from the same conference or division playing for a National Championship, there wouldn’t be any arguments there as well as they had legitimately earned it on the field. This is what we call a thing of beauty.
The X-factor in this is how the current BCS formula is currently calculated that determines the top eight teams to begin with, and yes this has issues that would need to be resolved as well. There are three glaring deficiencies in the current formula that once upon a time were a part of the system. Yes, the BCS has actually regressed over time.
First, strength of schedule needs to be included once more into the formula. It is ridiculous that SEC teams are given a free pass when scheduling games against Furman, The Citadel, Georgia State, and Mississippi Tech A&M State-West in mid-November. No more than one out-of-conference opponent shall be from a lower division, or that team’s victory does not get included in the formula nor eligible for consideration in the human polls. If teams choose to effectively play a scrimmage instead of a real game, then let it be judged as such. Sometimes these games are necessary stop-gap measures, like when Oregon schedules Portland State or Missouri State because a team backed out of their contract to play at Autzen Stadium because they were scared…wait didn’t that team play for an SEC Title this season? Maybe I’m wrong? The occasional stop-gap game against a FCS opponent is understandable if scheduling forced it, but for every SEC team to do this every year like clockwork in November is a disgrace.
Second, margin of victory. Yes, it does matter if when playing a quality opponent how much a team lost by. The human pollsters take into account when a team gets blown out vs. when they lose on a last-second field goal, so why don’t the computers? Why else then did Oregon this season drop ten spots in the human rankings after losing to LSU by 13, and Alabama only dropped one spot in the BCS after losing to LSU in overtime by a field goal? It’s either margin of victory, or complete hypocrisy. Even worse was 2005 when Notre Dame vaulted in the BCS standings after losing to USC on the last-second “Bush Push” play, but were given a massive boost in the polls for what was termed a “near-victory.”
Third, the Coaches Poll is corrupt and must be removed from the equation. Coaches these days are busy, they prep all week for their game. You honestly think Chip Kelly is watching games on ESPN from the locker room before kickoff to see just how good Michigan and Notre Dame are playing so he correctly rank them in his poll? Of course not, coaches are focused on their game. They might quickly glance at final scores in their conference Sunday morning before going over game film for the next contest, but deep analysis of the merits of Missouri’s victory vs. that of Oklahoma’s don’t take much account. Most coaches openly admit that they don’t even fill out their polls, usually it’s somebody within the athletic department. So why then is the Coaches Poll such a major factor in the final standings, yet the AP Poll consisting of sportswriters who actually watch games and analyze them not get included in the final formula? Because they might actually know what they’re talking about, and not slant teams to make sure that BCS teams stay in BCS games? Every single year the Coaches Poll is manipulated to favor either their team or other teams in the same conference, because the cash payout from the BCS is so much greater when conference teams are involved. With this year’s BCS final results, it is largely the result of the Coaches Poll and lack of an AP Poll for why we are stuck with a bland rematch of LSU and Alabama, rather than the LSU vs. Oklahoma State matchup that the vast majority of the country deserves to see.
More than ever it’s apparent that we need a play off system in college football. It’s great for the fans, great for the teams, great for whatever shred of respectability the BCS still possesses, and it makes college football all the more competitive and exciting to watch!
Instead, we are stuck with a boring game that was already played and yet another team left on the outside looking in, feeling cheated. In 2001 it was Oregon, 2004 it was Auburn, this year it is Oklahoma State. As long as the BCS exists in its current state, it is a matter of when not if somebody gets slighted once more.
And if I sound slightly bitter, it’s because I am, every Oregon fan should be. No team outside of maybe Boise state has been burned by the BCS more times than our Ducks. In 2001 it was a Nebraska team that finished third in their own conference (just like Alabama this year) that faced the #1 team, Miami, with Oregon left out while unanimously being #2 in every human poll. 2005 again the Ducks got the BCS screwjob, when a 10-1 Oregon team that had only lost to the #1 team in the country USC was left out of the BCS in favor of a 9-2 Notre Dame team, solely because Notre Dame gets special treatment. If it’s about money and not competition earned on the field, then let’s not hide that fact. The BCS thought Notre Dame in 2005 would bring in more cash than Oregon, so the Irish got an undeserving bowl bid while the Ducks faced off against a 7-4 Oklahoma team in the Holiday Bowl.
But it isn’t all bad I suppose, we do have an amazing Rose Bowl matchup to look forward to, IT’S O-TIME!