From the Sidelines: Wild season proves BCS changes needed

If this season doesn’t convince the NCAA that changes are needed in the bowl system of FBS college football, nothing will.

p. The 2007 campaign has been one for the books, as it has witnessed countless upsets and shifts in the polls, particularly at the very top. During Sunday’s BCS selection show (which was drawn out so long with unnecessary suspense-building tactics that it was almost unbearable to watch, especially considering that the brainless Barry Switzer was in attendance to provide “analysis”), the field was finally revealed. The matchups are as follows:

Rose Bowl
No. 13 Illinois vs. No. 7 USC
Fiesta Bowl
No. 9 West Virginia vs. No. 4 Oklahoma
Sugar Bowl
No. 10 Hawaii vs. No. 5 Georgia
Orange Bowl
No. 8 Kansas vs. No. 3 Virginia Tech
BCS Championship Game
No. 2 LSU vs. No. 1 Ohio State

p. You’re reading that right. LSU, with its two losses, is in the national title game — the same LSU that laid a complete egg against unranked Arkansas not two weeks ago in a game they knew they had to win for their national championship chances. At least, they thought they had to win it.

p. Their opponents, the one-loss Ohio State Buckeyes, blew their sure shot at a national title last month when they fell at home to conference-foe Illinois. However, through the miracle of the BCS system, they find themselves back in the top spot.

p. How two-loss teams like USC, Georgia and Virginia Tech that have come on strong at the ends of their seasons and have played as well as anyone in the country the past few weeks could be so easily passed over by LSU is beyond me. But then again, a valid argument could be made for any one of the two-loss teams being more worthy than another. And what about undefeated Hawaii? If they win their bowl game, they will end their season unbeaten. Yet they will not be national champions. And the team that will be champs will have lost at least one game, which is exactly what happened last year to undefeated Boise State as they watched the one-loss Florida Gators crowned champions.

p. Boise State’s win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl last year was the single-most thrilling sporting event I have ever seen. When the team ran the hook-and-ladder play on 4th and 18 and turned it into a touchdown, I was breathless. And as great a single game as that was, I turned off the TV that night unfulfilled. Shouldn’t a team that has won every game it has played be afforded the chance to play for the championship?

p. The more I read about it, the more I accept the fact that the FBS will not go to a playoff system. There is too much money and tradition tied up in the bowl system. Fine. But the current system needs fixing. There is much talk about a “plus one” system, most notably from ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit (who, by the way, is approaching a George Hamilton level of tan-ness), being implemented, which would mean that one final championship game would be played following the conclusion of all other bowls, with the two teams chosen based on many factors, including the results of the BCS bowl games.

p. Granted, this system is better than what we’ve got now, but will ultimately cause just as much controversy as the current one. What would matter more, a team’s performance throughout the season or its performance in the BCS bowl game? Ultimately, it would once again come down to a poll or a ranking.

p. Here’s my latest proposition (some of you may remember my playoff plan from last year’s column): a plus-two model. Eight teams are selected (in my perfect world, this would be done without the use of the computer system and conference tie-ins) to compete in the four BCS bowls (Fiesta, Sugar, Orange and Rose). The four winners would then advance to the semifinal round, to be played a week later. The two winners of those games would then play in the national championship game one week after that.

p. This system would give more significance to the four BCS bowls, and would even create two more big-money games for the NCAA. Will it ever happen? Doubtful. After all, this is the NCAA we’re talking about. But after seeing this year’s mess, it’s hard to imagine anyone else not wanting a change.

p. __E-mail Jeff Dooley at


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