With everyone on the radio, tv, tailgate, watercooler, huddle complaining about the BCS and the lack of a playoff in the FBS (it's Division 1 football folks!), who would have thought that the BCS got it right this year? AND, that the NCAA got it wrong. WAY wrong.
Let's start with what's right. Outside of Fort Worth, TX, who doesn't want to see Oregon versus Auburn?! These are clearly the best two teams in the Nation this year. Both teams are top 5 in Rushing and Scoring. Both teams were represented in New York at the Heisman festivities. The coach of the year is present, as is the Doak Waler winner for best running back this year. Who doesn't want to see this game? We are pounded so often with playoff talk from the radio hosts that have to fill time on Tuesdays in August, that we forget what we get sometimes in the current system. This matchup is the one that system was made to give us. No matter the computer influences, tweaking of the system, automatic qualifiers from non-automatic conferences for BCS bowls, matchups that aren't traditional in the Fiesta of Rose, this game is #1 versus #2 in EVERYONE'S mind. Sure, we had the what-if scenarios in early November: what if Alabama beats Aubrun in a close game? What if Boise wins out? What if Ohio State kicks left footed from 67 yards? It all made for nice banter, but none of it mattered at the end of the day. Oregon and Auburn both took care of business on the field, winning every game that was scheduled for them. (And even taking care of some off-field issues. Everyone remembers the $Cam Newton issues, but what about Oregon finding a QB after dismissing Masoli in March...) The undefeated seasons by these two showcase the beauty of the College football season. Every game matters in FBS. EVERY one. Just win baby! Win and you're in! It all applies to the BCS title chase.
Adding a playoff to college football would make a lot of sense. It would allow for the champion to come out of the pool of teams, just like every other team sport that has a championship. It works for March Madness. It works for the Stanley Cup. (Only one of the past 6 President's Trophy winners for best record in the regular season has hoisted the Cup...) It works for the NFL. Heck, even Nascar and golf have a "playoff" now. So, shouldn't FBS football too? NO! A playoff makes that Auburn-Clemson game in September a little less important (which Auburn won in overtime...) They could mail it in, and still be in the running for the National Title. Oregon could just sit their starters in the second half of the Arizona State game, and "get 'em next week." Every game matters in this system. Sure, it's not perfect, but it makes sense, for now, and adds meaning to every game every week. Put it this way: in a playoff system, Virginia Tech would have most likely been included as the winner of the ACC, having lost to JMU, a FCS member. Is that what we want? Didn't think so.
So we have Auburn versus Oregon for the Crystal Football. Again, who doesn't think this is the best matchup to determine the national champ? One scenario I ran on the ESPN simulator had Nevada beating Boise for the title. How would THAT go over?! Nevada winning would be worse for the sport than TCU getting left out. I'm not sure there is a perfect solution, but for now, this works.
As for the NCAA, I have a ton of issues with their management of the 2010 football season. Let's start in August, with the suspension of Jeremiah Masoli from Mississippi. Masoli enrolled in Ole Miss in late July, and practiced with the team throughout August. On August 30, the NCAA declared him ineligible, citing that the transfer to be eligible clause should be used for a student looking for a different line of study, not duck and avoid sanctions by another institution. Duh. Did anyone think that Jeremiah was transferring to Ole Miss because they had a basket weaving program that Oregon didn't offer? Why did it take the NCAA 6 weeks to figure this out, only ruling him out the Tuesday before the first game. Ole Miss appealed, and on Firday before the first game, he was re-instated; 3 days after being ruled out. Why the delay in suspension? Why the flip flop? Why the backing down of the initial ruling? We ALL knew the deal...he openly shopped his services in March.
While we're on the issue of Oregon, let's not forget last years LaGarette Bount and the punch. That punch, post-game, would cost him 10 games. And that was only after he met several criteria for self improvement would the suspension be reduced to 10 games.
At least Masoli was cleared to play. South Carolina wasn't as lucky...as Wesley Suanders was suspended 45 minutes before kickoff in the opener. I assume he was already taped up and was on the field for pre-game stretching, only to get yanked at the last minute, literally. The NCAA couldn't figure this out before 6:45 on a Saturday?!
The North Carolina football team was also run over by the NCAA bus this year. There were 12 players held out of the opener against LSU this year, including 6 starters. At the time, nobody was sure the extent of the suspensions, waiting on the NCAA ruling to come later in the week, and even month in a few cases. It seems that a trip to California will cost you 6 games.
Well, AJ Greene was only suspended 4 games for selling a jersey that was HIS! Now, there are 5 Ohio State players suspended 5 games for selling Golden Pants pendants they won by beating rival Michigan as well as jerseys and receiving reduced rate tattoos. If I were a Buckeye booster, I would require a harsher penalty for selling the pendants, like revoking a scholarship, but that's just me. And, how are the players eligible for the Bowl game, with the suspensions starting next year? Shouldn't the punishment begin immediately? Spurrier was given 45 minutes to replace his tight end, while the Buckeyes get to showcase their talents for the NFL scouts in a BCS bowl?! Right...
But, if you plead ignorance, you get a trophy. That's right, $Cam Newton claims he knew nothing about the $180k pay-to-play scheme his father dreamed up. The NCAA already had a file on $cam from his day(s) at Florida. Not to mention the transferring to a JuCo and back in through the clearing house. At least he was actually suspended for 24 hours, which is a lot longer that it appeared he would be suspended for during the initial discussions of the improprieties. Alas, he is eligible to play, and will be on the field for the National Title game, Heisman in tow.
I don't disagree with several of the rulings made by the NCAA, just the way they are administered. There has to be a timelier manner to handle things. The NCAA cannot be that ignorant of issues, and cannot take that long to make decisions. I refuse to believe that. I understand that lives are on the line here, young lives, but there has to be a better system to deliver results. Results that must be more consistent. Selling a jersey that is yours gets you 4 games, but living for 25% of the going rate for 3 months over the summer gets you 6. Doesn't seem the same to me. And selling a pendant that you won (and don't get if you lose) gets you 5 games. If Ohio State traditional doesn't mean anything to you, that should be the Buckeye's issue to deal with, not the NCAA's. At least $Cam will be on the field, in all the $180,000 luster, to face Oregon. A true NCAA success story.