Monday, December 03, 2007

Idle threat of the week

It's sort of a tradition around here that we take a long hard look at the Bowl Championship Series when we select December's first Idle Threat of the Week.

Usual caveat being that those of us who grew up in the Washington DC area and attended a less than Division 1-A college don't quite get the passion big-time college football -- which pales in comparison to the NFL -- inspires. (But will cop to being slightly fascinated with the fascination.)

So maybe it is that distance which allows us to see the good in the BCS system.

For example, man-machine chimera that is, the BCS has its own checks and balances. If it was just up to those dastardly computers you would have LSU playing Virginia Tech in the finals -- even though Virginia Tech has already lost to LSU by 41, and has a potentially dangerous fan base. In past years it has been the computers coming to the rescue when the humans stubbornly insist on continuing to give extra weight to the teams they had ranked highly in the pre-season.

Another positive to the BCS-era is that now coaches feel it is important and downright vital to publicly argue their team's selection merits. Meaning we aren't so far away from the day when Alan Dershowitz throws his headset in disgust in Gainesville, and, in Ann Arbor, F. Lee Bailey is the one ignoring the local businessmen and their unmarked white envelopes.

Of course, the BCS is also notable for its annual humiliation of Notre Dame. Which comes early, during the years the Fighting Irish aren't able to cross the meager threshold for inclusion that the BCS sets special just for them, or later, when Notre Dame is throttled by the SEC or Pac-10 runner-up.

Still, despite these improvements, the BCS has to be awarded Idle Threat of The Week for the week of November 26th to December 2nd. It wins because it so boldly threatened to solve college football's national championship "problem," yet comes up so short year after year. What is going to happen, this year, if two-loss LSU defeats Ohio State, and then undefeated Hawaii defeats SEC power Georgia? That's just one among a slew of embarrassing scenarios.

But, ultimately, the BCS is a good thing. With a playoff system you would have one definitive winner. With the BCS you get one (or two) winners, and a whole bunch of whiners. And it's that type of inclusion that makes college football the passion evoking, but otherwise inferior, product that it is.

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