Dec 30, 2008

Tue: I would change The College Bowl System

Being a card carrying male college student, it should come as no surprise that I watch football. I grew up watching the Packers and Cardinals (the 2 teams rooted for in my family) play some just awful football. The Packers with 1990’s Brett Farve eventually put some things together but the Cardinals....well everyone knows about the Cardinals. As I grew older something else also happened, I started paying some attention to College Football. I didn’t really care who won College games, but the crowd was always so into it, and the players were so energetic and spirited that it became really fun to watch. It was kids playing a game because they still enjoyed playing it, not because they had signed a contract and needed to make payments on their Caddy (I realize that’s a really broad generalization). Then I started attending ASU so I finally had a team to pull for, a very inconsistent and frequently overrated team. That’s for a different conversation though. After I had a team I only had one real problem with College football. It has the most convoluted system of picking a Champ. Picking a proper champ of a sport is important, it provides closure, and creates integrity for the sport. College football chose it’s Champion based on a computer formula that crunches a bunch of numbers including some poll results from sportswriters and college coaches. So basically Microsoft Excel picks the Champ, and hey maybe that’s the best way to pick something, I’ve heard of computers being used to make some pretty important decisions. The problem it is so un-compelling to play a sport in hopes that HAL-3000 thinks you played well enough to be the Champ. So here are a couple changes I would make to fix this thing.

Make it Playoff-esque
So the computer ranks these college teams, and based on those rankings and a couple other miscellaneous criteria those teams are matched and placed into one of 34 Bowl games that vary in prestige. So for the Mathematically disinclined that’s 68 colleges that play in an extra game that for the most part is meaningless. Games like the Meineke Car Care Bowl, Roady’s Truck Stops Humanitarian Bowl, or even the honorable Chick-Fil-A Bowl. I mean it’s cool that we’re trying to get more colleges included but I think if I received an invitation to Bowl, I might be more insulted than honored. Like “hey why don’t you come out here and star in our 3 hour long commercial in exchange for freezing, grueling practices through Christmas and winter break”. I realize at this point I’ve probably lost a good chunk of my readership so let me just take this time to confess that I really enjoyed the Movie “Just Like Heaven” I can’t even really explain why, anyway I had to get that off my chest. There are 5 games that hold some meaning though. The so called BCS bowls: Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, Orange, and National Championship. So here’s the change I propose, instead of 30 meaningless games and 5 somewhat meaningful games depending on who you ask, let's change the 5 meaningful games into single elimination tournaments of 8 teams a piece. So the National Championship tournament would be teams ranked 1-8, the Rose would be 9-16, Fiesta is 17-24, Sugar is 25-32 and Orange is teams ranked 33-40. That’s 40 teams, which is a little less than the 68 we started with but because of the tournament system there would still be 35 games. So we lose a couple of the smaller less talented schools for a couple years, in return we get some really engaging games where all the games matter on some level because even if you’re a team ranked #40 you have a chance to win a BCS title and your school earns a huge stipend (currently it’s around 17 Million dollars). I’d cheer for the #40 ranked Sun devils to win my school Millions of dollars, but I don’t really care if they beat San Jose State in the Eaglebank Bowl.

Less Regular Season Games
This is not really a fix bit mostly just to clean up some of the loose ends, College teams currently play around 12 games a year, between 7-9 division games (games against schools close to them and have some sort of rivalry with) and 3-5 other games which can be anything from playing some small college from Miami, Ohio to Notre Dame. In order to play the possible 3 extra games in the tournaments we talked about earlier we’d have to cut 1 of these “regular season” games. I’d say keep it to 8 division games and 3 “other” games. But I’m flexible if a team wants to go with 9 and 2 or 7 and 4. Whatever, as long as they’re done in time for the tournament and the students can go back to school like normal people come Spring Semester.

Less Neutral Location Games
Anyway one of the other problems with the system is the Bowl games are in random places called Neutral locations, not usually in either of the team’s home state. That takes away a huge part of the appeal of College Football, the amazing crowds. So put the first 6 games of each tournament at the home field of the team with a better record and that last Championship game can be played wherever the bean counters need it to be played to make the most money. It’s just more fun to watch a team play in front of their fellow students and parents, and other people who love the team but can’t blow 3 grand on a trip to watch them play a semi meaningless game in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

So there it is, my quasi-thought-out plan for fixing College Football. I promise I’ll do my best to keep my sports ramblings to a minimum for awhile, but I figured I’d knock this out first. I wish I could have tied Christianity in there somewhere with some grand revelation of the how football and the evil computer that chooses the champions is majorly flawed and I’m glad that the God who chose me and possibly you was flawless in his choice (which is sometimes really hard to believe). Oh well, there’s always next Tuesday.

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