Sports Outside the Beltway

Boise State and the BCS

Heralded by many, in Idaho, as the true National Champions, the Boise State Broncos closed the 2006 College Football season as the only undefeated team. Florida, by virtue of their thrashing of Ohio State, is the National Champion. And the Broncos? Fifth in the AP. Sixth in the USA Today Coaches poll. Not exactly the treatment befitting an undefeated team, who will be remembered best for their thrilling victory in the Fiesta Bowl – a game already declared an instant classic.

Boise State however will not be accorded any more respect than they won on the gridiron. They are the other – an interloper at the big BCS bash. And in spite of their undefeated record, the exciting style of football they play and the prominence their situation has received, they are not welcome to clamor that they were denied their rightful place atop the College Football heap. Their National Title hopes denied not because they lost, but because they play in a smaller conference, in a smaller market and They are not a glamour team like USC, Texas, Ohio State or Florida.

Lots of folks will be writing and scribbling in the coming weeks what needs to be done to fix the BCS. Many of those folks perpetuate the ridiculous system for picking a Champion. And pay careful attention to that word. Championships are not won on the field, they are picked by voters, whether ink-stained scribes or clipboard cr5acking coaches, and then parsed by a computer.

The writers and coaches both pay more fealty to the polls than they ought. Much was made about the clash between Texas and Ohio State earlier this season. Texas finished the year with three losses, one of them against Ohio State. It was a very different team from the one that stunned USC in previous year’s Rose Bowl. But Texas was highly ranked. Because people who hadn’t seen them play thought they were a good team. One honest writer cast a protest vote for Boise State as the top ranked team. Whoever that writer is, he or she has earned the right to pen the by now obvious column declaring that what college football needs is a playoff.

The solution is obvious, but money stands in the way. The Bowls, the major conferences and Notre Dame profit far too much from the BCS to allow the lesser conferences like the Western Athletic or the Mid-American or the Mountain West to join the party in an actual eight or sixteen game playoff that would actually allow the teams to compete to crown a Champion.

Commentator Norman Chad once declared that true sports don’t determine the winner by voting. This was why athletic competitions with subjective styles of selecting winners could not be called true sports. Your fate was not in your hands. You couldn’t win and therefore prove your mettle. College Football’s postseason sadly has long been an athletic competition and not a sport.

So in Gainesville celebrate your Champs. Urban Meyer did a great job game planning. And that made a huge difference. Make no mistake, though. This Championship belongs in part to Meyer’s predecessor Ron Zook, who recruited many of the players who went out and whupped Ohio State. They toppled Goliath and won the big game. But the matchup was picked, not entirely earned. And until the Championship Game is truly the clash of the last two teams standing after a playoff tournament, the conclusion of every College Football season will carry some baggage.

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