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Don't miss Al Myatt's profile of ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the 2004 Bonesville Magazine.

View from the East
Monday, January 3, 2004

By Al Myatt

Forces of reality ganging up on BCS

Bonesville Magazine

• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact

• Recruit Profiles
• Rookie Books
• Tracking the Classes
• Florida Pipeline
• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again


• STEVE BALLARD: New Leader Takes Charge

• SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door

• KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams

• BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate


There was a time when the United States was characterized as the land of opportunity. It was said that anyone could achieve their goals with enough ability and hard work.

That's not true, of course, in college football.

If you play for Utah and perhaps Auburn, depending on tonight's outcome, it doesn't matter that you had a perfect season. The Bowl Championship Series system has excluded you from consideration for the 2004 national championship.

Only in America.

Well, only in Division I-A do media, coaches and an alliance of six power conferences essentially determine who will be called champion.

The BCS has been an improvement as far as acknowledging the need for a national championship game to decide the issue of No. 1 on the field, but as events during the course of its existence have shown, the concept needs to be further refined in its implementation.

The plea for a playoff is nothing new but the plight of the Tigers tonight re-emphasizes the point. They've been through the gauntlet of the grueling Southeastern Conference unscathed and go into tonight's Sugar Bowl matchup with ACC champion Virginia Tech without a chance to claim the big prize.

That's just not right.

College football needs to take the 11 Division I-A conference champions, the best independents and a few at-large powers and start a 16-team playoff as has been proposed by ESPN. The system could incorporate existing bowls and even rotate the championship game between the few elite bowls that comprise the BCS now.

The regular season would matter because of the importance of winning conference titles. Strength of schedule would factor into seedings, encouraging teams to take on non-conference challenges.

Playoffs work for Division I-AA, Division II and Division III in NCAA so, based on those successful precedents, there's no need for college presidents to make the case for players missing class time. Athletes in other sports have more schedule conflicts with class time anyway.

Thank goodness there's a true champion in college basketball. Imagine the disappointment and sense of injustice if NCAA hoops was decided by the top two teams in a contrived formula playing one game a month after the regular season for all the marbles — instead of conference tournaments, 65 teams and March Madness.

Apply the football mentality to baseball and you would have one game in Omaha between two formula-generated teams. I don't like that either, do you?

Keep the parades but give me an NCAA Tournament in football — and a true champion.

Utah handed Pitt, a product of the BCS-aligned Big East, its biggest loss of the season by far — the last statement the Utes were capable of making on the field in the current state of college football. Utah did all it could but will receive no serious consideration for the national championship.

That's just not right, either.

LSU and Southern Cal split the national championship in the polls last season — exactly the situation the BCS was supposed to remedy.

The BCS simply doesn't work in terms of determining the best team in college football and the Associated Press should be applauded for removing its poll from the BCS formula in the future.

The powers that be in college football — the BCS, the NCAA, the bowls, the coaches, the Division I-A membership and television — need to move toward a playoff system. It simply would be best for the game.


ABC had an interesting sound bite with Utah quarterback Alex Smith in the early stages of the Utes' 35-7 triumph over Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year's night.

Smith was talking about grasping the concept of Coach Urban Meyer's offense that combines a spread formation passing game with elements of the option. The Utes have piled up some incredible numbers this season, not the least of which is that unblemished 12-0 record.

Former East Carolina coach Steve Logan developed the same concept regarding the difficulty of defending both the option and a spread passing style.

It's interesting that although former ECU athletic director Mike Hamrick had his personal differences with Logan, he appreciated Utah's philosophy to the extent that he named Utes offensive coordinator Mike Sanford to take over the Nevada-Las Vegas program, where Hamrick is now AD.

Meyer, of course, is Ron Zook's successor at Florida and Utes defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham will step up to the head coaching position at Utah. It should be interesting to watch talented Gators junior Chris Leak at the controls of Meyer's attack.

"Defenses have to play assignment football against the option," Smith said.

And that creates potential matchup problems defending the pass. The concept and its near flawless execution by the Utes proved virtually overwhelming for Pitt on Saturday night.

Utah also made an aggressive philosophy pay off on defense. In obvious passing situations, Whittingham does not rely on dropping back in a lot of nickel and dime packages in coverage. He does bring a lot of pressure on the quarterback, which resulted in another game-defining dimension against Pitt — nine sacks.

A spread offense with option elements and an aggressive blitz package. It looked like ECU, vintage 1999.

McManus makes pick

Although the BCS system has its problems as addressed above, it is what it is and, admittedly, that provides a compelling showdown for this season's national championship.

Jerry McManus, who has served on the football coaching staffs of Steve Logan and John Thompson at East Carolina, said he likes Southern California in its BCS showdown with Oklahoma — a matchup of unbeatens in the Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla., on Tuesday night.

McManus favors the Trojans based on the presence of Norm Chow as offensive coordinator.

"I have a lot of respect for Norm Chow," McManus said. "He's a heckuva offensive coordinator. He's ahead of the curve and I think that gives Southern Cal a little bit of an edge."


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02/23/2007 12:32:54 AM

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