Commentary

BCS driving its rent-a-wreck until 2014

Updated: May 1, 2008, 3:37 PM ET
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

What, you thought the 12 men who own the BCS car keys would actually improve their 10-year-old rent-a-wreck? You thought wrong.

[+] EnlargeAl Woods
Doug Benc/Getty ImagesLSU would have needed one more win to claim a national title in a plus-one format.
Instead, the 2008 BCS-mobile will be the same rusty make and model as the 2007 version, which means more oil puddles in your driveway. That's because three days' worth of supposedly all-important BCS meetings in Hollywood, Fla., turned into a comical waste of time.

Nothing happened. Nothing ever was going to happen.

Check that. Cocktail parties were going to happen. Maybe a round of golf was going to happen. But the assembled 11 conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White -- sort of the politburo of the BCS -- knew they'd leave the southern Florida hotel resort Wednesday with a postseason "system" (cough, cough) that remains unchanged from the previous flawed edition.

The Southeastern Conference's Mike Slive gave it a shot. He proposed a plus-one model that called for the No. 1-seeded BCS team to play the No. 4-seeded team, and the No. 2 to play the No. 3 in a pair of semifinal games. The two winners would play for the national championship.

Liner Notes

The two best-run events I've ever covered are The Masters and the Fiesta Bowl. One of the smartest guys I've ever met is Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. In the same team photo is, among others, Fiesta Bowl executive director John Junker.

College football is chin strap-deep in bright, nimble minds. And yet, we still can't come up with a playoff format -- just one -- that everyone can live with? Amazing.

Trust me, something is going to happen in the next season or two that will make those smart guys wish they hadn't been so dismissive of the Plus-One idea.

-- Gene Wojciechowski

In short, college football's version of the Final Four.

You know when Letterman's "Late Night" crew drops, say, cantaloupes, from the top of a Manhattan building and they explode against the pavement? That's what happened to Slive's plus-one idea. Splat.

You could almost hear the SEC commish tapping the conference room microphone, saying, "Is thing on?" as he made his pitch.

Crickets chirped. Tumbleweed moved across the carpeted floor. Slive's idea had as much chance of winning approval as an undefeated non-BCS program has of ever playing in a BCS title game.

Don't get me wrong -- there were a lot of smart guys in that room. Slive is one of them. So is Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. And Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese. And White. And down the list we go.

But the simple fact is that some of those commissioners -- and the university presidents they report to -- are allergic to a playoff, or anything resembling a playoff. Their logic is so antiquated that you half expect them to return home in a Model T.

One of my favorite pro-BCS arguments made by some of the commissioners in that room (and in grave, serious voices) is this: A playoff will cheapen the regular season.

You know when Letterman's "Late Night" crew drops, say, cantaloupes, from the top of a Manhattan building and they explode against the pavement? That's what happened to Slive's plus-one idea. Splat.

Is that so? So, using their reasoning, the BCS gods are against any sort of format that will lessen a regular season in college football, but they have absolutely no problem cheapening the value of a college basketball regular season? I mean, if a playoff would compromise football, doesn't an ACC postseason tournament (and cash cow) compromise hoops? Doesn't an NCAA tournament render the regular-season basketball results useless?

Of course not, but that's the hypocrisy of the BCS logic. It clings to this silly idea that the regular season would be in peril if a Final Four-type playoff were instituted, even if that regular season includes such memorable 2007 cupcake matchups as North Texas at Oklahoma (79-10), Western Carolina at Georgia (45-16), William & Mary at Virginia Tech (44-3) and Northwestern State at Texas Tech (75-7). So let's quit with the regular-season-is-sacred propaganda.

And then there's this little beaut from a recent Chicago Tribune interview with Fox Sports president Ed Goren. Goren used to be a playoff guy. Now, surprise, he's a BCS convert.

Referring to the winners of the four BCS bowls, as well as the BCS Championship Game, Goren said, "Five teams go back to campus as champions. If you go into a different system, you have one winner and everyone else goes home a loser."

Hmmm. One winner. What a novel idea. We should try that in every other NCAA sport. Wait! We do! Every one except Division I-A football.

BCS landslide shelves playoff


The BCS is working, at least in the conferences' eyes. Any chance of a college football playoff is dead, at least for a long, long time, writes Mark Schlabach. Story
BCS officials reject playoff

First of all, five teams don't go back as champions. One goes back as the BCS champion and the others, such as Sugar Bowl winner Georgia, talk about getting screwed by the BCS selection process.

And if Goren is right, then let's make winners out of everybody. Instead of having a Final Four hoops tournament, let's call it quits after the regional finals. That way Memphis, UCLA, North Carolina and Kansas are all champions.

No more College World Series. No more anything where somebody has to deal with the heartbreak of a loss. Let's make it Four Shining Moments.

Look, at the very least, the BCS commissioners and White should have also considered, if not approved, a plus-one format that features the four BCS bowls (or a fifth, such as the Cotton), followed by a championship game played by the top two remaining teams.

Instead, we got zilch. We got the same goofy voting system that produced some jaw-dropping coaches' ballots in the final regular-season poll (Florida Atlantic's Howard Schnellenberger had Missouri No. 4, LSU at No. 5, Georgia at No. 8 and USC at No. 12; New Mexico State's Hal Mumme had Hawaii at No. 1, LSU at No. 4, USC at No. 7 and Georgia at No. 9; Oklahoma's Bob Stoops had LSU at No. 6). We got the same rankings system. We got the same non-plus-one thinking.

"The BCS is in an unprecedented state of health," said John Swofford, the ACC commissioner and BCS chairperson, at meetings' end.

More like, state of confusion. Inertia. Paralysis.

Get used to it. We're stuck with this beater until 2014.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com.

Gene Wojciechowski | email

Columnist / College Football reporter