clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Death to the BCS: A Book Review (Part 2)

New, comments

If you missed part one, click here.

Here is the review of the second part of Death to the BCS.

Chapter Seven: Myth of the Dead Bowls

The authors state their case rather simply, "If the question is playoff or bowls, the answer is both."

With their playoff system, the current bowls would still survive as they are today (without the 16 playoff teams participating of course) and experts think that although they would take a hit financially, they would still be more than viable.

They state, "If the Cartel doesn’t mind spending $80 million to subsidize bowl games when the gross revenue is $220 million, it isn’t going to suddenly pull the plug when a playoff generates $750 million…college football would be replacing a poor earner with a good one."

Moreover, the larger and more prestigious bowl games would be able to remain viable with a playoff, especially the Rose Bowl which now generates a $30 million a year TV contract that would shrink to $15 to $20 million with a playoff. Mitch Dorger, the bowl’s CEO said, "The Rose bowl would survive."

The point here is that many of the lower-tier bowls would collapse financially if left to their own devices, a playoff would give teams more money, but would letting go of some of the lower-tier bowl games be such a bad idea anyway?

Especially considering that Division-I athletic departments needed $826 million in subsidies from taxpayers and student fees to balance their books, or that colleges dropped 227 teams from 2007-09 due to budget shortfalls?

Chapter Eight: It’s Always Some Team Getting Screwed

The next chapter takes a look at all the teams that have been screwed by the BCS over the years. You don’t really need to be much of a fan of the sport to remember a lot of these occurrences.

*LSU and USC "sharing" the 2003 title.

*Undefeated Auburn didn’t play in the BCS title game in 2005.

*Miami being left out of the BCS title game in 2000.

*Nebraska entering title game after losing the Big 12 championship 62-36.

*Oklahoma losing 35-7 in Big 12 championship game, but still entering BCS title game in 2003.

*Plus Utah going undefeated in 2008 without a title, and the same with Boise State in 2009.

There are many more examples and arguments, all of which a playoff would resolve.

Chapter Nine: Cowardice and Cupcakes

Chapter nine takes a look at how the BCS has affected scheduling and tells a story about how difficult it was for Michigan to find a big time opponent to play their home and season opener in 2010 after they rebuilt the Big House.

The Wolverines wanted a traditional powerhouse but were denied any requests to play a home and home and finally brokered a deal with Connecticut at the last minute.

A big selling point with the current system is that it allows the regular season to mean so much more than in another sport like the NFL.

The authors disagree, and point to the ever-growing number of cupcake games and programs' apprehension to lose one game for fear of playing themselves out of a title shot, as evidence that the BCS is slowly ruining the college regular season.

The system is set up right now to allow these teams the easy way out by scheduling I-AA teams and bottom feeders, causing the regular season not to be as big and exciting as it was 20 years ago.

With a playoff, teams would not be as afraid to lose one game and would be more likely to schedule tougher opponents in an attempt to build their resume to fight for a chance to be one of the lucky 5 at-large bids.

Chapter Ten: Diluting the Regular Season

Along the same lines as the last chapter, this one looks at how the BCS proponents say a playoff would turn the college games' regular season into the less meaningful examples we see with NCAA basketball and the NFL.

The authors think a playoff would actually increase the excitement of the regular season and that the comparisons to the NFL or college basketball are not convincing.

With a playoff, more people would tune in to see who wins the Sun Belt so that they would know who the No. 1 seed in the tournament would play. They also argue that so many more games would have bigger implications for the remaining at-large bids as teams with two losses (now resigned to non-title fate, except 2007 LSU), would be battling it out to enter the playoff.

They assert that a playoff wouldn’t just bring more excitement to the postseason, but would reinvigorate the regular season. It will force fans to follow just more than a handful of teams as the season comes to a close and would give the smaller and less powerful teams a chance to be giant killers.

Chapter 11: Nonsense Math

This chapter takes a look at how the BCS started their polling, how they got rid of the margin of victory, who the players are behind the numbers and how they are controlled like puppets on a string by the Cartel.

It’s not essential reading or really that pertinent to the book’s thesis, but it is interesting nonetheless.

Chapter Twelve: Fooling the Voters (Who Are Often Fools)

Chapter twelve begins with showing how LSU effectively campaigned for the title game in 2007 after suffering two losses and goes on to show how the BCS has turned nearly every program into a sales team and how the system makes them all public relations talking heads.

It also shows how many of the voters in the Harris poll don’t really follow college football all that well. The authors state that the "Harris poll is bumbling, the coaches poll is bogus and the computer systems corrupt."

Chapter Thirteen: The Superfans

This chapter takes an interesting look at how the internet and social media have created a new kind of fan, the "superfan" and that all of these technological changes have brought college football to unprecedented popularity levels.

The problem as they see it is that the BCS is still stuck in the early 1990’s, unwilling to change.

The authors close out the chapter with a warning: "The Cartel will find itself confronted by a great lesson of the Internet age: The product always bows to the masses, not the other way around."

Chapter Fourteen: All in a Gameday’s Work

An extension of chapter thirteen, this chapter takes a look at how popular the game of college football has become, how national it has become, thanks in large part to the spread of games on television and shows like ESPN Gameday.

It reasserts the notion of just how insanely popular a playoff type of system could be once mid-December rolls around each season.

Chapter Fifteen: Blue Turf vs. Blue Blood

Chapter fifteen centers around the growth of the Boise State football program and how the smaller and less traditional teams are unfairly kept out of the championship games in the BCS.

At this point, the authors have turned their eye back to how unreasonable the BCS has become and how programs like Boise State and TCU are finally being realized as very good football teams and not something unworthy of a shot at a title.

Chapter Sixteen: The Civil War

A funny thing about the BCS is that it is being run and controlled mostly by the conference commissioners, yet those same commissioners are also in competition with each other for more money, power and championships.

This chapter takes a look at how not everyone agrees with each other and how certain fractures may open the door to the possibility of a true playoff system.

Chapter Seventeen: Implicit Trust, Explicit Motivation

This chapter is an extension of the previous one, taking a look at how the Big 12 was duped by the Big Ten in swiping Nebraska away and all of the disagreements between the conference commissioners that have led to this recent expansion.

It also goes into how Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has been at the forefront of bringing his conference a lot of riches and how a playoff (and it’s millions more) would lessen the power and influence of the Big Ten. The authors imply that this is a big reason Mr. Delany does not want to see a playoff, because everyone getting rich is not as satisfying as the Big Ten holding power and keeping its current riches.

Chapter Eighteen: Death to the BCS

The final chapter is just a quick recap of everything that is wrong with the BCS and why a playoff would be so much better.

They call the BCS un-American.

A few powerful men control everything and it is bad for the sport and terrible for the fans.

They want to see the excitement of a 16-team playoff and an annual championship game at the Rose Bowl.

They want to see David vs. Goliath matchups in the first round. They want to see the smaller teams get a chance to fight or a No. 12 seed miraculously playing its way to the title game and capturing the attention and imagination of the whole nation.

They’re sick of the stale postseason, the pat on the backs for undefeated seasons and all of the corruption involved with the current system.

It’s time for a playoff.

It will bring back excitement to the regular season, blow desperately needed fresh air and hype into the postseason, while creating a fairer system and untold riches for cash-hungry universities and not for bowl executives in sport coats.

If you’re a fan of college football, I highly recommend you read this book.

The authors could have gone into better detail about their plan for a playoff (critics are already harping on that point) but they rightly target the BCS because of how inept the current system is.

I don't agree with everything in the book, but a lot of it makes a ton of sense.

The biggest problem in my eyes is how fans will react to watching a Rose, Sugar, Fiesta and Orange bowls that would be clearly a step down from their current matchups. Then again, half of the BCS games each year aren't mind-blowing games and don't bring in huge ratings.

I'd concede that a playoff might affect the regular season negatively in some ways, but I truly think it would also be off-set and increased to a greater extent with teams fighting to get into the postseason. For example, Auburn would be fighting for a No. 1 seed this weekend, while South Carolina (only trying for a BCS bowl) could still be fighting for a national title.

What are your questions? Concerns? Comments?