There is no such thing as a perfect system. In fact the term "perfect" should be thrown out from our lexicon. Unless you're speaking about 'The Big Lebowski' or an '82 Lafite', "perfect" just doesn't exist.
I felt like I needed to start with that disclaimer because I'm about to reveal something that most sports fan would be ashamed to utter aloud ... I support the BCS. Not only do I support it, I prefer it over March Madness!
Yes that's right, the evil, reviled system known as the Bowl Championship System. This revelation came to me while watching the Elite Eight over the weekend. Considering all the propaganda against the BCS this was not easy for me to come to terms with. Like a disk jockey saying on air he enjoys the entire Nickelback collection I would rather have my champion decided by polls, computers and shady voters.
Don't get me wrong, I love March Madness. Some of my fondest sports memories are watching the first round while enjoying the first hints of spring and quaffing back multiple Guinness' on St. Patrick's Day. Who doesn't adore an orgy of basketball games coming at you wave after wave of upsets and buzzer beaters?
There is just one tiny little flaw with it all, no one cares about the regular season. Beyond the odd Duke vs. North Carolina game just how much College Basketball do you watch before the start of the tournament? I'm guessing the majority of you start paying attention somewhere around the time the office secretary starts passing around the photocopied brackets.
What it comes down to is consequences, or the complete lack of, during the regular season for College Basketball. If you lose a couple games early on, no worries there is plenty of season left to get a high seed. Stumble near the end ... just crank it up in your respective Conference Championship and presto a #1 or #2 is often there for the taking.
The problem is that the regular season has such a small impact on who the champion ultimately will be. Upsets happen every year, just ask Kansas, and there is nary a #1 seed left in the Final Four. Quite frankly there are no games of great importance in January for College Basketball. How can there be if there are no significant repercussions if you win or lose two weeks after Christmas?
Now compare that to College Football where every game matters. Let me give you two quick examples.
September 1st 2007: The Michigan Wolverines lose to unranked Division II Appalachian State 34-32. That Michigan squad had the #1 overall draft pick Jake Long, along with a boatload of future NFL players: Chad Henne (Miami), Mario Manningham (NY Giants) and Mike Hart (Indianapolis Colts) on offence. This was a stacked team however their chances for a National Championship had ended before Labour Day.
September 25th 2008: The #1 ranked USC Trojans, coming off a jaw dropping whipping of 5th ranked Ohio State just one week earlier, lost to unranked Oregon State 27-21. That team, with Mark Sanchez at quarterback, was considered a favourite to win it all. But that one loss dashed those dreams all away. USC wouldn't lose another game, but it didn't matter that Thursday night loss had sealed their fate. Last year Duke lost by 14 to unranked North Carolina State yet they still went on to the National Champion over a five loss Butler Bulldogs squad.
That's the great thing about the BCS, it creates such a sense of gravitas for each 60-minute contest. Every individual game is an event, no matter what the calendar says. Yes I am aware this has as much to do with the shorter length of the football regular season as it it is about the BCS. Of course each game is going to mean more when than are fewer of them to play. However it is that lack of a playoff system that comes with the BCS that makes every week do or die.
Can you say that for any other sport?
I know the BCS has it's flaws and right now every sports fan is doing their usual Spring ritual in proclaiming their love for the Madness but I would rather have a system that places such a high premium on the entire season and not just the final couple weeks.