At the end of the day, isn't this really what all this "controversy" is about? There are currently 120 Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as Division I, programs. So just per the math alone each one of those programs has less than a one percent chance of winning that elusive National Championship coveted by all. Now the horrible truth is that there are really only 20 programs (rough swag) in any given season that really have anything resembling a legitimate chance of pulling it off. So is the intent of this playoff idea to level the playing field for those 20 programs or to figuratively read The Little EngineTthat Could to the other 100? We live in a society where we all want everything and we want it right now. That includes our alma-mater, favorite team, whatever it is to you, winning that elusive National Championship. We will campaign to fire coaches at the cyclic rate if they fail to get it done, but in the mean time pay them millions in hopes that they will. When Charlie Weis struggles through personnel issues for a couple of seasons we’ll try and burn him at the stake for "Not being in the conversation" without really even trying to think about why. In reality all this "controversy" is really focused on the latest iteration of programs that think they got screwed.
I won’t dig back through the last 10 years of the BCS, I know there are several examples of teams that arguably should have been in the game. Let’s just look at last year. We have two programs that fell into the "screwed" category that perfectly represent opposite ends of the spectrum. We have Texas as a power player and Utah as one of the little guys. Let’s start with Texas. Mack Brown’s boys really got left out by the Big XII conference tie-breaker rules. Interestingly enough just last week the Big XII coaches voted to keep that tie breaker. Why? Because it gives a Big XII school THE BEST CHANCE AT PLAYING FOR THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP! Crazy isn’t it? Not really. It actually makes perfect sense. And the fact of the matter is that if the Texas Defense could have just taken care of business on that final drive in Lubbock then Texas Tech would have never scored and Texas not Oklahoma would have played Florida for all the marbles. In the aftermath Mack Brown spent a significant amount of time this spring learning about the BCS. He probably should have spent that time having Will Muschamp work on shutting down the Dread Pirate! Note to Mack, you control your own destiny!
Now for the little guys. Utah was really the team that fanned the flames last season after running the table against a schedule that featured three "tough" games. They played against the worst Michigan team in history, a BYU team that went on to lose to a five loss Arizona squad in a bowl game, and a pretty solid TCU team. Ultimately the Utes got left out of the big game. Then much to the surprise of everyone in the country they pulled a Boise State and knocked off Little Nicky and Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Who saw that coming? I sure didn’t. In the handful of annual bowl pools that I participate in I hit 25 of 34 games and took home the bragging rights in all of them but I whiffed on the Utes. I’ve got it, on any given day anyone can beat anybody. That’s why you play the games. Otherwise we would just be handing USC the crystal football every September. Lord knows the World Wide Leader would love to do just that. But it doesn’t work that way. Does that mean we need a playoff? Before we go down that road let’s look at some other potential options. Perhaps the BCS should consider throwing the Mountain West champs into the mix as automatic BCS qualifiers but will that fix it? Probably not. The truth is the Mountain West is not the SEC, Big XII, ACC or the Pac-10. You can debate about the Big East. But I get it. Utah is the epitome of the whole playoff argument. In the current construct no team from the Mountain West, WAC, MAC, CUSA or Sun Belt will likely ever get a title shot. So how do you fix it? Or do you? And what are the ramifications of doing so?
A large part of the problem lies within the polls themselves. In my opinion the preseason polls adversely affect the polls throughout the duration of the season. Start high and you have to lose to drop. Start low and someone ahead of you has to lose to climb. The first iteration of BCS rankings don’t come out until mid October so why not wait until then to start putting out all of the polls that factor into the BCS ranking formula as well? A playoff is the most obvious solution but not one without some potentially undesirable ramifications itself. Be careful what you wish for. I’ll come back to that in Part IV.