Commentary: Defending the BCS

Published On:
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
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There are some things you come to accept in life.

Gas will always cost more than milk.

Deleting your Internet history remains an afterthought.

And college football will always boast more bowl games than there are states in the union.

OK, it’s not quite that many. But at the conclusion of this season, 68 of the 119 football bowl subdivision teams will play in 34 college football bowl games — without a playoff, mind you.

Don’t worry about the math; I did it myself. It means that 57 percent of college football’s teams get a postseason.

The expanse of the system allows for the Emerald Bowl, the GMAC Bowl, the Humanitarian Bowl, the EagleBank Bowl and even the (who’s hungry?) Bowl.

But over time, I’ve come to love this generous system, and I’m here to defend it.

I argue, despite what many fans think, that the variety of postseason opportunities for teams is not only fair, but also provides a well-deserved end to what is always a painful regular season.

If you ever played or followed the sport, you know the rewards of the football season are not concealed in the fans, and they are not usually represented in a trophy. They are expressed through the camaraderie created in battle and the brotherhood that envelops this sport. This is not a game of the timid, and we must acknowledge this in our analysis.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the last page of the 2008 ASU football season has yet to be written. Standing at 4-6, the Sun Devils are in need of only two more wins to earn themselves a postseason bid.

Who would select them?

How about the Poinsettia Bowl’s officials, which will contractually invite the seventh-best Pac-10 Conference team?

While last season ASU challenged USC for the role of top dog in the Pac, this year it’s a race for seventh place between the Sun Devils and the Bruins, who match up in Tempe on Nov. 28.

But obviously this debate is about more than ASU.

Many times, I’ve analyzed and then reanalyzed my logic. Why should mediocrity be rewarded?

But consider this: College football’s season is among the most unforgiving in all of American sports. A missed field goal here and everything, including the season, is turned on its head. There’s a short leash in this game.

It’s also a brutal contest played with intense pressure by a bunch of amateurs. While the television networks and schools’ athletic programs are making big bucks during the season, these amateurs do the work.

In some ways, giving these players an extra game in their honor couldn’t be more deserved recognition. (Plus I’m sure they get a nice gift basket, with a free vacation attached.)

While college football’s current system slaps fives with six-win teams, more sports than you think reward .500 performances. The MLB has, the NBA does and the NFL can.

Do I think there are many things about college football that are in need of fixing? Yes. And I’d be one of the first to cast my ballot in the interest of change (much like President-elect Barack Obama already has).

But I would never cast a ballot if it in any way compromised the legions of bowl games.

It’s simply too important. Let’s give the players a ceremonial “thank you,” even if it is with a funny-named bowl game. Because despite how some continue to rant, these bowls do indeed mean something.

The players don’t strap on their helmets for the fans. They have and always will play for themselves; we just get to jump on board for the fun.

Because it’s not our bowl game. It’s theirs.

Get hit for a season and maybe then can you defer.

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