“No matter how successful the BCS becomes, it will never be what the public wants.”

ESPN’s Ivan Maisel does a very nice job of capturing the paradox of the BCS, age 10:

… The Bowl Championship Series is 10 years old, and if you listen to its legion of critics, it is so screwed up that the only thing it’s missing is a congressional birthright. The BCS is a symbol of tradition over efficiency, a triumph of the needs of the powerful over the wishes of the masses, a mockery of common sense and simplicity.

But here’s the thing: since college football adopted the BCS as a convoluted, inexplicable method of staging a national championship game, the sport has never been more successful.

“Even the most cynical person,” Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive said, “has got to admit it has contributed to the excitement and popularity of college football.”

Over the past decade, TV ratings overall have been in free fall, yet college football attracted significantly more viewers on the ESPN networks. Average attendance increased in five of the six major conferences. Payouts for the BCS bowls have increased by millions of dollars.

In essence, the BCS is a symbol of a spectator sport that ignores the wishes of the spectators, a business that succeeds by giving its customers what they don’t want. The BCS might be tolerated by the public, but it will never be embraced for the simple reason that it’s not a playoff.

It’s the setup everybody loves to hate. And that nobody can figure out how to negotiate a consensus to replace.

… If nothing else, the BCS can make a football coach sound Churchillian. It was Sir Winston who described democracy as the worst form of government “except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Few people profess to like the BCS. But given the pressures exerted on college football by university presidents, history and the marketplace, it is the system that the sport developed.

You know I loves me that Churchill reference.

And given my posts below about fixing the coaches’ poll, this seems rather timely:

… The BCS’ battle to win the public trust forced the American Football Coaches Association to make public the final ballots of the coaches poll. That occurred after the 2004 season, when Brown’s Longhorns overtook California in the final BCS standings. That turmoil led to the memorable quote from the Big 12 Commissioner at the time, Kevin Weiberg: “Up until last year, there hasn’t been a real focus on integrity. That seemed to be a new element.”

All in all, a good read. Even if he doesn’t have a solution…

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