The recent economic disaster was caused by unbelievable cheating, dishonesty and stupidity by insiders while the appearance of “fairness” was maintained publicly. Most got away with their misdeeds because there was a total lack of oversight by the federal government and a lack of knowledge of their doings by the general public. In some cases, there were even actions bordering on corruption by members of the government.
The American people were upset, yet not surprised.
This is essentially the state of major college football as well. The power lies not with the NCAA, which grants real national championships in every other sport except football, but with the Bowl Championship Series: a collection of the “major” conferences and bowl games that gave themselves the power to decide who gets the richest payouts from the biggest bowl games, to the exclusion of virtually all else. The BCS was meant to fix college football, to raise it out of the dark ages of random polls and ivory-tower opinion-makers. To give the people a real, fairly-crowned national champion.
Instead, we have been given yet another corporate cabal centered around profit, money, very little real economic competition, and maintaining the status quo that sounds eerily similar to the economic downturn and the health care debate. As Dan Wetzel so eloquently put it: “The simple explanation is that the BCS is a cartel and the bowls are a costly but important way to block the NCAA’s central office from participating”.
Yet no one is surprised. The BCS is America, where small and average people are always the victims.
In the age of the Bowl Championship Series purposely excluding many teams (and still including the Big East for some reason), while pretending college football has a fairly-crowned national champion, there are many liars, cheats and cowards. Foremost among these are the teams who schedule pathetically easy out-of-conference games during the season so they can pad their win total and go undefeated more easily and have a shot at the big money (it’s a somewhat-known fact that many, if not most schools lose money when going to bowl games). And I’d be surprised if the university presidents cared that much about the trophy.
There are many culprits; almost too many to count because this has become such a common occurrence:
Texas has played Louisiana-Monroe (6-5), Wyoming (5-6), UTEP (3-8), and UCF (7-4) out of conference this year. That must have been terrifying.
To their credit, No. 2 Alabama played (and beat) No. 14 Virginia Tech this year. They also played Florida International (3-8), North Texas (2-9) and Chattanooga (6-5 in FCS). Ballsy.
And before you say anything, No. 4 TCU, you know, the team the BCS is going to screw out of a national championship opportunity, did play FCS Texas State (7-4…and they have Sinbad and a girl kicker!). They also played Virginia (3-8), Clemson (8-3), and SMU (6-5), the last two of which are bowl-eligible, at least, and they beat them all.
Hell, even my own alma mater, Indiana (4-8), had an FCS team on the schedule this year (Eastern Kentucky…and they almost freaking lost) and an FCS school (Murray State) AND Western Kentucky on the schedule last year. In IU’s defense, USF backed out of a home and home series with the Hoosiers, necessitating a quick fix. Enter EKU. Besides, give us a break. We suck.
But no one. NO ONE exemplifies scheduling cowardice quite like the Florida Gators. Their out of conference schedule looks like this: Charleston Southern (6-5 FCS), Troy (8-3), Florida International (3-8) and Florida State (6-5). Every one of those games was (or will be) a home game, and the first three were all wins. Florida State shouldn’t really count in terms of scheduling cowardice because the Gators play them every year. Troy is also a defensible game because they are definitely one of the better teams…in the Sun Belt Conference.
In fact, since the start of the 2000 season (10 years), the Gators have played 34 out-of-conference games, and not counting the Florida State series (five away games), the Gators have played exactly one out-of-conference road game (at Miami in 2003…a Florida loss). Even six total away games in 34 out-of-conference games is embarrassing. Especially considering that all of those “away games” took place within the state of Florida.
More to the point: Florida has played as many different major-conference, non-SEC teams in 10 years as TCU has played in 2009 alone.
That Florida schedule includes two MAC teams (Ball State, Eastern Michigan), five different Sun Belt teams (Middle Tennessee, Louisiana-Monroe, Florida International, Florida Atlantic and Troy), three FCS schools (The Citadel, Florida A&M, Charleston Southern), one school that was transitioning to FBS when Florida played them (Western Kentucky), three WAC schools (San Jose State, Louisiana Tech, Hawaii), four C-USA schools (Marshall, UCF, UAB, Southern Miss), two ACC schools (Florida State, Miami), and one Mountain West school (Wyoming).
The conferences missing from that schedule are: Big East, Big Ten, Big XII, and the Pac-10. In other words, the other BCS automatic qualification conferences.
No random home and home with USC like Ohio State had, or a series with Ohio State like Texas had. Nothing. Just a bunch of non-qualifying schools, and not even one of the good teams from the Mountain West a.k.a. the good non-AQ conference. No Utah, BYU or TCU. Hell, not even Air Force. Just Wyoming, who finished 4-7 in 2005 when Florida played them.
Friends, we are being sold a bill of goods that is nothing less than a con-job on the part of the Florida Gators and the BCS. Yes, the Gators beat Ohio State and Oklahoma to win national championships recently, but did they earn their way there? Absolutely not. There’s a reason strength of schedule should count. Not in a “BCS formula” kind of way, which is a lie anyway, but in a “you’re a wimp for scheduling like that and should be ridiculed as such” kind of way. Any Florida fan that even keeps that schedule in a video game should be mocked by his/her friends.
The Gators will pretend that they have fought their way through a tough schedule in 2009 when in fact they have played ONE RANKED TEAM. One. And it’s questionable whether LSU should be ranked anyway.
I also know what Florida fans and BCS apologists will say here as well: the SEC is just so tough a conference that there’s no need to schedule good teams from other conferences.
Anyone who actually believes that drivel is either Urban Meyer or Orson Swindle a CBS broadcaster because there is no way that conference is so much better than the other major conferences. In 2009 alone, there are no currently ranked SEC teams (in the BCS standings) other than Florida, Alabama and LSU. There were only four ranked SEC teams in the BCS at the end of 2008, five in 2007 (there were also five ranked Big XII teams that year, along with four Pac-10 teams, so eat that SEC hacks), and six in 2006 (when there were also four Big Ten teams ranked).
Every conference has ranked, good teams. It’s the point of conference play. But that doesn’t mean a few conference games are the only thing necessary for a shot at the mythical national championship. In fact, they’re almost totally out of the schools’ control. The only part of the schedule schools have direct control over are the out-of-conference games, and you can see what Florida and others have done with that power.
The number of ranked SEC teams year in and year out is fairly consistent to be sure, but that only means the conference is top-heavy, not that they’re the best. Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and (sometimes) Ole Miss are just as bad as any other power conference’s bottom-four. The SEC also has the benefit of having 12 teams, giving it better odds of having more teams with good enough records to get ranked (especially if they’re all guilty of some weak scheduling too) and leaving them with some perennial losers for the usual eight teams to beat consistently. Baylor, Iowa State and Duke all agree with me.
So when Florida is in the national championship game and the announcers and everyone are praising them for being so great, so clutch, so Tebow-ish, remember that they’re so great and undefeated because they played exactly one major-conference foe outside the SEC whom Florida plays every year anyway and have played exactly two major-conference teams outside the SEC in the last 10 years.
The BCS pretends it is fair because it has created its own rankings system that was supposedly better than the old polls and which is used to match up the two best teams in the country to play for the mythical national championship. It pretends that formula isn’t famously flawed, and that those ridiculous computer polls and coaches polls don’t utterly bias it. It pretends everyone has a shot, when, in fact, they do not. Only Florida, who constantly flouts the spirit of competition by scheduling a parade of patsies, gets a shot at winning three national championships in four years.
I would have loved to see the 2008 Florida team prove itself against some one from a major conference aside from a crap FSU team during the regular season. It’s not the players’ fault they didn’t get to face stiffer competition, it’s the athletic department and the university’s fault. That Florida team might be one of the best of all-time, but we’ll never know for sure because they didn’t play anyone. At least mix in a f*cking road game once in a while.
This is a fake dynasty.
Something must be done.