The View From 217

I must admit that this is one of my least favorite times of the year. Not only does the time change cause your body to believe that it is closer to 10:00 p.m. than the actual 6:00 p.m., but the college football regular season is over, and all the football talk surrounds the worthless BCS.

It is especially agonizing this year because the Big East has been the target of BCS criticism ever since the double-dealers from Miami and the turncoats from Techtown bailed for the ACC. It was much easier to deal with when WVU was getting bashed every week by the media for not being worthy. It is a little more difficult to stomach now that a team against whom WVU could not muster two touchdowns is getting the daily belittling.

Be that as it may, it is time for my annual rant about the BCS. I think it is time for the talking has beens at ESPN and the fans of the "non-BCS" schools around the country to take a step back and understand why the BCS was created.

The BCS was devised to match the top two teams in the nation in a "championship" bowl game. It was not designed to match up the most deserving teams from positions three through eight in big bowl games. And those that argue differently just don't know their facts.

Under the old bowl system, the Rose Bowl matched up the champions from the Big 10 and the Pac 10. It didn't matter how good they were, they were the champions of their conferences, and they matched up in the Rose Bowl. The Big Eight champion played in the Orange Bowl. The SEC champion played in the Sugar Bowl. The Southwest Conference champion played in the Cotton Bowl. And the Lambert Trophy winner (Eastern Independent Champion) usually got their pick of the at-large slots of those three big bowls.

Three things happened to change all of that. The first was the Fiesta Bowl stepping up to match the payout of the Big Four bowls, including two at-large berths, to try to get the national championship game. The second was the abandonment of the SWC by the Texas schools that joined the Big 8 to form the new Big XII.

The third was the formation of the Bowl Coalition. The precursor to the BCS, the Bowl Coalition was designed to try to create the best match up for the national title by combining the AP and CNN/USAToday polls to form the Bowl Coalition Poll, which would hopefully result in the best match up at bowl time. Fans of the Mountaineers should remember this pretty well, as the 1993 undefeated Mountaineers sat third in the Coalition poll while one-loss Florida State, after some hall-of-fame whining by Seminole Casey Weldon, finished second and was matched up with undefeated Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.

What they don't remember is that West Virginia essentially had its pick of which bowl to attend. The Fiesta, the Cotton and the Sugar all wanted the Mountaineers. What should they do? Take a Cotton Bowl berth against SWC Champion Texas A&M (which eventually went to Notre Dame), take a slot in the Fiesta against Pac-10 Co-Champion Arizona, or take the slot in the Sugar against SEC Champ Florida? Well, the Mountaineers chose the money, and went to the Sugar.

What people fail to realize is that WVU chose the bowl, not the other way around. WVU was essentially invited to three bowls. It doesn't work that way now. Now conferences are locked into slots. And partly because of West Virginia's '93 season, to go along with Miami's previous two seasons, the Big East was included in the BCS when it was formed. However, the bowl slots still remained the same. The Rose got the Big Ten/Pac Ten, the Orange now got the Big XII, and the SEC got the Sugar. The Cotton Bowl, however, was left out in the breeze when the Fiesta ponied up to the table with more money.

That is what the bowl system was designed to reward. The big bowls were a reward to the conference champions. The at-large slots usually went to the best independent schools in the land, and then the other bowls selected teams that would sell them tickets and give them good matches.

You think the Rose Bowl is ever going to give up their tie ins with the Big Ten and Pac Ten? Sure they are, and my Aunt has some swampland in Florida to sell you.

The fact of the matter is the Big East is struggling without Miami. And even though Virginia Tech won the ACC this year, I still contend that they will be replaced very well by Louisville. Miami, however, will never be replaced, unless Notre Dame joins the conference, and even that might not do the trick.

But the other fact is, the Big East should not be punished financially because the ACC raided the conference and stole three members. The Big East should be given time to grow into their new conference, and see how it plays out. But as for the complaints of other teams, I've got some responses for them.

Dear Cal, whine and complain all you want. The fact of the matter is, you lost to USC. You didn't dominate. And the fact of the matter is, before the BCS, you'd not have had a prayer of making the Rose. You'd have been hoping for a Fiesta Bowl berth, and maybe you'd have gotten it. Or maybe you'd have gotten a Cotton Bowl berth, against Texas, the SWC Champ.

Dear Texas, had you and your buddies not tucked tail and destroyed one of the oldest, most storied, and dirtiest conferences in the country, you'd be SWC Champs today, and playing in the Cotton Bowl. So maybe, just maybe, you should go put a muzzle on Mack Brown, who has never beaten anyone of consequence in his career, so he stops giving people a reason to point out that it was your school who was involved in the original conference shake-up that destroyed some very nice athletic programs.

Dear ESPN/Fox Sports/CNN/NCAA, stop flapping about how the student-athlete would be harmed by a playoff system. Stop telling us that 1A football players cannot handle playing in a 16 team playoff while the student athletes in 1AA, Division II, Division III and NAIA all seem to figure out how to get it done and still attend school.

Dear NCAA, get rid of the computer polls. They are a farce. Stop letting the guys who write the programs tell you there isn't an inherent bias in teams who were successful in the previous year. It just doesn't wash. Somebody has to be ranked at the top. How do you think a team that hasn't stepped on the field gets ranked #1 to start the season?

On to other points of interest:

  • I find it puzzling that the WVU men's basketball team actually lost all three of their AP Poll basketball votes this week after winning their only game by 40 points.

    I also find it puzzling that the WVU women's basketball team has 32 votes in the ESPN/USAToday coaches' poll (good for 28th this week) but has ZERO votes in the AP Poll.

  • Speaking of polls, I have another beef. I was waiting until the end of the season to send off this zinger, and West Virginia's miserable finish took the wind out of this diatribe, but I'll still make my point.

    West Virginia lost to Virginia Tech 19-13 at Lane Stadium when Tech was unranked and WVU was ranked sixth. The snapperheads at ESPN were all over the Mountaineers like a cheap suit. West Virginia was horrible.

    The comment I'll never forget came from Trev Alberts, he of all talk and no substance.

    "West Virginia just lost to a middle of the pack, at best, ACC team, and they're the best in the Big East? Please. The Big East does not deserve a BCS berth. This league is horrible."

    While you digest that for a minute, I want to bring up a comment from the same guy a mere two weeks later, following a Thursday night game between Georgia Tech and the same Virginia Tech squad: "Georgia Tech can rebound after losing to a great Virginia Tech team..."

    You think these flapping yappers don't have an effect on the polls? WVU took an 11 place plummet in one poll and dropped 12 spots in the other after the Tech game. Meanwhile, when Miami lost to North Carolina, they dropped four spots, and ended up back in the top ten two weeks later. When Wisconsin, ranked number four, got pasted by Michigan State, the same Michigan State team that lost to RUTGERS, they didn't even drop out of the top 10.

    Were it not for WVU's collapse against BC and Pitt, I think the Big East should have been demanding an apology, considering the middle of the pack Hokie squad clinched the ACC title with their second consecutive win over Miami last weekend.

    I think Trev Alberts owes the Mountaineers about five spots in the polls. It would be more, but the ignorant ramblings of Mark May, the former Pitt player, befuddle even the most intelligent observer so badly that Albert's emotional tirades are drowned out. It is a shame that these guys spend more time working on their shtick than they do working on the actual analysis that guys with their type of football experience could deliver. Give me guys like NFL on Fox's Troy Aikman, and Darryl Johnston over this type of garbage any day of the week. Better analysis, less opinionated sewage.

  • I was encouraged to see Fox bid on, and win, the BCS package. It is my true hope that Fox also goes out and bids on the Big East television package. I'd love nothing better than to flush ESPN and ABC right down the hopper. Their treatment of West Virginia and the Big East has been horrendous from day one, and it is time someone stepped up to the bar and offered this group of blowhards a reason to step back and remember why they pulled in all the viewers in the beginning.

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