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College Sports in the Carolinas

View from the East
Tuesday, December 9, 2003

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Chaotic justice as BCS self-destructs


Hold those arguments about the inequities of the Bowl Championship Series. On the basis of the so-called national title pairing announced Sunday, the system itself is the best argument against its continuation.

Southern Cal, which is ranked No.1 in both major polls, is not in the Sugar Bowl, which is the championship game in the BCS rotation this season. Instead, Oklahoma, coming off a 35-7 spanking from Kansas State in the Big 12 title game, will meet LSU, which chewed up Georgia 34-13 for the Southeastern Conference crown.

If Southern Cal beats Michigan in the Rose Bowl, then there will likely be a split between the Associated Press poll and the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll on the national champion. The coaches poll will automatically vote the Sugar Bowl winner No. 1, but the AP poll isn’t compelled to follow suit. Proponents of the BCS had always said the system would put an end to such scenarios.

Perhaps the computers on which the BCS rankings are so heavily reliant have conspired to institute a playoff system. To borrow a phrase from Coach Bill Herrion’s East Carolina basketball program, “It’s Time” — time for television networks, university presidents and power conference commissioners to abandon the masquerade about protecting the best interests and traditions of college football.

That dog won’t hunt.

What we have with the BCS is the potential for no true national champion, a disproportionate distribution of bowl revenue money and no realistic chance for teams in conferences without a guaranteed BCS berth to get into a major bowl. All of that was in place before the BCS system was devised. Even with efforts to tweak the means of rating the teams, the system has proven functionally flawed in a most basic objective — producing an undisputed national champion.

With a 16-team playoff, the conference champions and a select number of at-large teams could comprise the field. Existing bowls could be utilized. Playoff advocates point out the cumulative drama of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and what such a format could do for college football. Under that plan, the potential controversy is who is No. 16, not who is No. 1.

Division I-A football is the only NCAA sport without an inclusive playoff to determine its champion. I can’t buy the argument that it will take away class time from athletes — not when midweek games are allowed for television during the regular season. Is a comprehensive playoff less of an educational hindrance at Division I-AA, Division II and Division III schools, who have fully-operational playoff systems? Who can defend that stance in light of the graduation rates of some major college football programs under the present BCS system?

Texas Christian — with one loss — isn’t even in the BCS rankings and won’t receive a fraction of the proceeds from the BCS system that struggling programs at Vanderbilt, Rutgers or Baylor will realize, but that’s a point separate and apart from the errors in the system that this year’s Sugar Bowl matchup has exposed.

The BCS hasn’t worked for the have-nots since its inception. This year it’s not working for the haves in terms of fairness to Southern Cal.

Every year it seems to present problems so why not get it fixed?

Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese’s defense of the present system in a televised interview smacked of the deception of Bill Clinton’s impeachment testimony.

“We’re the No. 1 team in the country and we’ll do everything we can to hold that spot,” Southern Cal coach Pete Carroll told the Associated Press. “If we win (the Rose Bowl), we feel like we’ll be the No. 1 team in the country regardless of what the other bowl is called.”

LSU coach Nick Saban also acknowledged problems with the BCS.

“Unfortunately, there seems to be three teams that people would like to see and the system can’t satisfy three teams,” Saban told AP. “Unfortunately we can’t have all three teams because we don’t have a playoff.”

The solution is obvious.

Put in a playoff system. Programs in BCS conferences would benefit, too. College football is much too big a competitive entity not to have a means to determine a true champion.


ECU offensive line coach and assistant head coach J.B. Grimes would not confirm or deny that he is going to join the new staff at Mississippi State. ... Former Pirates assistant Dave Huxtable has been relieved of responsibilities as defensive coordinator at UNC but will remain on the Tar Heels staff to coach linebackers. ... Former ECU player Greg Thomas guided Greenville Rose to a resounding 51-7 triumph over Winston-Salem Mount Tabor in the 4-A state championship football game. Nick Grimes, J.B.’s son, was named defensive player of the game for the Rampants. Grimes and Rose’s outstanding running back, Andre Brown, MVP of the state final, will play in the Shrine Bowl in Rock Hill, S.C., on Dec. 20 at 1 p.m. ... Another former ECU player, New Bern coach Chip Williams, is head coach of the North Carolina Shrine team.

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02/23/2007 12:39:51 AM

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