That monkey wrench thrown by Texas coach Mack Brown may have hit precisely where the machinery was most vulnerable to catastrophic failure. In no way does this excuse his behavior in soliciting coach's poll and writer's poll votes. Any willful manipulation of an inherently vulnerable system seeking to gain unearned advantage is nothing less than weak conviction and alarming avarice.
Any who defend Brown by invoking some variation of the "everybody else in the same boat" philosophy is patently wrong. California coach Jeff Tedford's behavior of sportsmanship at the end of the Bear's final game at Southern Mississippi was the exact antithesis of Brown's - and was there for everyone to see. How some could contend Brown's actions are validated out of some acceptance of a notion of universal conduct can only be explained by deafness, blindness or stupidity.
But that was last week's rant...
With the AP's withdrawal, the BCS commissioners will have to perform some very fancy footwork. The coaches poll is certain to follow suit, meaning the BCS management team needs to identify a full selection process, not just offer "significant" tweakings to the inner-workings as they have the past 7 years. I don't have much reason to be optimistic they will find a solution.
A selection committee is a viable option, though I would be very suspect of a any selection process to identify the members of the committee, convinced it would be open to some variation of "Mack Brown" style gamesmanship – a truly impartial committee wouldn't be acceptable to a roomful of selfish people who do their work in private fashion.
In my view, the solution is going to have to be imposed upon the BCS, probably by the university presidents. In asserting their authority, the offer of a compromise - a true "plus one" post season for college football – should be the icebreaker that initiates the discussion. Only in such a way would the selection process treat each of the bowls appropriate to their given traditions, but create a method to leave no fewer than two undefeated teams after the preliminary 4 bowls have been played.
Multiple one-loss teams could create similar grid-lock as we have seen in the past 7 BCS incarnations, but at least the losses will allow additional extrapolation and discretion in choosing the two best of the rest for that "plus one" game and the trophy.
If they don't want to call it a championship… fine, I promise I'll never refer to the winner as the national champions. They can be known as the "President's Chalice" winners and the trophy be a perpetual award, given to the winning team each year.
December visit to Autzen
2004 is the first year of a new partnership between the University of Oregon and the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA), the governing body of high school athletics in the state, that has the state championship games for football, basketball and track and field scheduled to be held using the University's facilities.
In the past, the OSAA has routinely staged the state track and field meet at Hayward field, and Autzen stadium has been used for the football playoffs when convenient to the geography of the participants. Many years ago, McArthur court served to host the (then 3A, now classified as 4A) men's basketball tournament. The new agreement standardizes the championship locations for those three events.
With four classifications in football, the championships were scheduled as two days of doubleheaders; the two smaller classifications (1A and 2A) were held on Friday night, December 10, the 3A and 4A contests were staged the following afternoon, Saturday, December 11.
There were many - mostly from the Portland area - that bemoaned this arrangement as being inconvenient to the fans of the teams hailing from the metropolitan Portland area. Civic Stadium in northwest Portland has frequently hosted the finals when teams from the northern portions of the state were involved, so there is some merit to this observation.
My quarrel with those who raised the objection is predicated on the opportunity for the athletes to compete using the best facilities in the state. Though occasionally more convenient, Civic Stadium is a pretty Spartan venue, for player and spectator alike.
Given the opportunity to choose between playing a championship game in Civic or in Autzen, I would venture most participants would prefer Autzen with the included amenities of Duck Vision, the state of the art locker rooms, the Moshofsky center, not to mention the significantly better media capabilities at Autzen that allowed the games to be telecast across the state.
While McArthur Court is not the Rose Garden, once a new facility has been completed, it will certainly be a showcase.
Another positive is with a pre-determined destination for all aspirants, the "Autzen or bust" or a "Mac Court or else" rallying cry can serve as a summary to each team's ambition for their season. Stating the goal as winning the state championship at "to-be-determined" does have quite the same cachet.
More to the point, none of those I heard complaining about having to make the trip to Eugene were participants; they appeared to unanimously prefer playing in the more renowned venue. Those who complain about the travel and inconvenience necessary to attend would be well advised to ask the kids first – then make up their minds as to which is the best arrangement.
In any case, the two days of football was a fine way to culminate the fall sports season and I look forward to attending the 4A boy's basketball tournament at McArthur Court in March.
Wishing you the best of the Holiday Season, and an entertaining Bowl season