We are heading into the final few games of the college football season and once again it’s a mess. I have vented about this in the past but the lack of a playoff in elite college football makes this sport ultimately unsatisfying.
As it stands now, Ohio State and LSU are 1-2 in the Bowl Championship Series, which uses polls and computers to determine the two teams who will play for the national title. "Polls and computers." That right there tells you how screwed up college football is. No other sport in the world decides its champion this way.
This year we once again see one major flaw in the system -- teams get ranked based on how they were perceived in the preseason. LSU has one loss, as does Oregon, Oklahoma, Missouri, Boston College and Arizona State. Kansas and Hawaii are unbeaten.
But since LSU started the season ranked second in the polls, the Tigers had a huge leg up once the season started. Even though the BCS does not start posting its standings for the first month, LSU was "perceived" as either 1 or 2, so it did not drop as far when it lost. The Tigers are two plays away from having lost three games, but none of that matters -- it's the perception that counts. In contrast, Kansas and Oregon were unranked before the season, so they had further to climb.
The bottom line is that we have no idea which unbeaten or one-loss team is best, but odds are that some potentially deserving team will be shut out by the BCS' screwy system. And for those who say that each week is in effect a playoff, this is flawed by the case of a team like Hawaii (and Boise State last year). Even if the Rainbows finish unbeaten, they have no chance of reaching the BCS title game.
Years ago, Penn State coach Joe Paterno promoted a 16-team tourney that still kept the bowls intact. It was worthwhile then and it's worthwhile now. Here's hoping that LSU and Ohio State each lose once more and we really have people screaming. --Jim Buzinski