Sound off: is BCS system the best option?

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K-State’s No. 3 ranking in the BCS sparks discussion over whether or the BCS system is fair. Collegian sportswriters Donald Pepoon and Joey Wenberg disagree about the whether the BCS system is the best option for college football.

Donald Pepoon, staff writer:

Few things are more hated in the sport of college football than the
BCS system. Continuous changing of the rules every season? Great. A team located in
Boise, Idaho, playing in a conference called the “Big East”? Dandy. But keep the
bowl system as it is? Now that is just blasphemy.

So brace yourselves for what I’m about to say: the BCS system
isn’t that bad.

Yes, it has caused problems in the past. Being a K-State fan,
I know as well as anyone the deficiencies of non-playoff systems. If you
don’t know what transpired during the 1998 season, save yourself the pain and
don’t look it up.

However, if the purpose of a post-season system is to match up the
two best teams in the country for a national championship,
doesn’t the current system do that better than other options?

It’s pretty simple — during the regular season, every game
must be treated with the utmost importance. One slip-up could mean the
difference between a title shot and an honorable mention. Some people
hate it, while personally I think it’s great.

Look at the NFL. As the season winds down and
teams start locking up playoff spots with games still left on the
schedule, coaches implement the very annoying strategy of benching
starting players during those final games to avoid the risk of injury. This
completely devalues those late-season matchups and leaves spectators feeling unsatisfied, knowing that a team isn’t truly focused on winning.

While a playoff
system is considered more “exciting,” it doesn’t accomplish the goal of placing the two best teams in the country in the national championship game.

The NCAA basketball tournament is widely considered the most
entertaining postseason in all of sports. With 68 teams that play in a single elimination,
tournament-style battle royale to crown a champion, what’s not to like?

The problem is that rarely do the two best teams actually
reach the final round to face each other. Upsets happen along the way, and the
result is often a matchup of teams that have a combination of luck and streakiness
playing for the sport’s top prize.

Of course it’s fun to see so many teams weeded out to determine an eventual champion, but it doesn’t reward teams that
actually proved themselves during the regular season. Any team can get hot and run
the table in a tournament, but for consistency’s sake, it isn’t the most accurate way to
determine who the best team in the country is.

Remember two years ago when Butler and UConn met in the
NCAA men’s basketball championship? Neither of those teams would have been considered even
close to being the best that year, but because they got “hot” at the right time, they found their way onto college basketball’s biggest stage. What resulted was
one of the ugliest championship games in recent memory. Reality set in for both
teams, and they played to their typical levels. Viewers were left wondering why
two good but not great teams were competing for a title.

Last year’s BCS national title matchup of conference
rivals Alabama and Louisiana State was met with a chorus of criticism for
pairing two teams who had already met during the regular season. Still, the
two best teams in the country met in New Orleans to determine the
championship. Despite what college football fans will say, those teams
deserved to be there based on their collective resumes in comparison to other
national championship candidates.

Another issue with a new playoff system is the diminished
value of current bowl games. The Rose Bowl has been a staple in college
football for over a hundred years, but with the prospect of the postseason
continuing after the bowl game, the excitement and prestige normally
surrounding it will surely decline.

The playoff system also severely hurts middle-of-the-pack
teams. Those who are scrambling for bowl eligibility but cherish it
nonetheless will soon see themselves playing in college football’s equivalent
of the NIT. It may be a nice token to be a part of the Alamo Bowl, but deep
down, those teams will know they’re playing for a consolation prize, while their superiors are duking it out for the only one that really matters.

The BCS system may not be perfect, but when it comes down to
the bare bones of what the purpose of a postseason is supposed to be, it is
the best option for giving the two best teams in the country the chance to
play for a national championship. “Cool” and entertainment-focused postseasons
be damned, I like my college football champions to be determined the old-fashioned way.

Joseph Wenberg, staff writer:

The BCS is probably one of the most dubious systems ever imposed on college sports. I say this for multiple reasons. First of all, no system in the history of college sports has had to be amended along the way. The only exceptions are in college basketball and baseball, who have had to expand their playoff systems to integrate more teams. Basketball did this as recently as last year, when they added the “First Four.” 

College football never had to expand; it merely had to make the move from letting polls decide the champion to having a somewhat “legitimate” championship available to its competitors. That championship is infamously known to fans of college football as the Bowl Championship Series, or BCS.

In 1998, K-State was undefeated going into the Big 12 championship game in St. Louis against Texas A&M.; This was the first Big 12 Championship that K-State had the opportunity of winning outright since 1934, when Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf was at the helm. An 11-0 football team going into the game, we were No. 3 in the BCS and No. 1 in the Coaches’ Poll. Unfortunately, the ‘Cats lost in double overtime to the Aggies by a field goal.

Before the national title game, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Florida Gators jumped the Wildcats in the poll, the Buckeyes with one loss and the Gators with two. Quite frankly, our team was screwed by the system and ended up in the far less-prestigious Alamo Bowl. As a result, the ‘Cats had a rule created after them called “The K-State Rule,” declaring that if a team finished in third place in the BCS rankings, it would still attend a BCS Bowl. We should have played a much better team in a bowl game that would have brought us more recognition in our best football year ever.

In the end, the undefeated Tennessee Volunteers won their first consensus National Championship by beating the Florida State Seminoles 23-16. Had we not lost to Texas A&M;, we would have played in the national championship game.

This year, I pray the same thing does not happen in the event that we end up winning out. If Oregon and Florida go undefeated, either team could easily jump us if we lose a game because of how the computer ranking works.

If Alabama and Florida both win out, the Wildcats deserve a chance to prove their worth against the seemingly almighty Southeast Conference, even if we lose one game. In 2011-12, Oklahoma State should have had the opportunity to beat out a team to have a chance to win it all. Since they had lost only one game all season to the 6-7 Iowa State Cyclones in the Big 12, arguably the toughest conference to win a conference championship now that it doesn’t have a championship game, they didn’t have a chance to prove that they were one of the two best teams in the country.

Oklahoma State proved in the Fiesta Bowl that they could have been a contender for the national title instead of letting LSU and Alabama, two SEC teams that had already met earlier in the season, duke it out in a title game that Midwesterners had no inclination to watch.

We, as fans, shouldn’t have to deal with what-if’s and amendments to the system based on the ways it has failed fans everywhere in the past. We deserve better, and that’s why we’re getting a playoff system.

Should K-State win out, I really hope the system doesn’t screw them over. I’m beyond glad that the NCAA has decided to initiate a four-team playoff, starting in the 2013-14 season in order to ensure a more meaningful system. I wish this year’s ‘Cats the best of luck with the current system, but, more importantly, I hope that due to the changes, whichever teams play in the 2013-14 championship get to play in a way that appeases fans of college football.

Donald Pepoon is a sophomore in business administration. Joseph Wenberg is a sophomore in journalism and mass communications. Please send comments to sports@kstatecollegian.com.

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