For some reason, as I grow older, I find myself more and more disinterested in sports. I still watch some stuff on TV and I do read the sports pages in the paper, but I rarely get excited about anything. I suppose that could be because most of my “favorite” teams don’t do so well anymore, except maybe for the Yankees. They’re still competitive. But it’s hard to be a Cleveland Browns fan or a Notre Dame fan these days. Neither can compete on the “big stage” anymore, largely because of money. That could change in the future, but right now I don’t think it’s likely.
Even if it did, though, I’m not sure I’d care. Especially with respect to college sports. I understand why professional teams in the NFL are all about money and profit – that’s really why they play the game. Like any other corporation, survival depends on the bottom line. But that didn’t used to be the case with major college sports. At least not totally. There was at least a hint of amateurism.
And things tended to be more “local”. The conference you played in, for instance, tended to be determined by physical things like geography. If you were a member of The Big East, you probably existed somewhere in the eastern part of the U. S. There was no Big East team west of the Mississippi.
Not anymore. The top schools now view conference affiliation as a kind of musical chairs thing. Show me the “chair”, they say, with the most money piled on it and that’s where we want to go and play. So now “The Big East” goes from coast to coast. Time for a name change, guys. The one you have now makes no sense.
Then, of course, there’s the dramatic shift in the pay scales for top coaches. Guys like Rick Pitino and Nick Saban make millions of dollars a year. And that’s for one reason and one reason only – to win. They’re not there to build character. It’s all about winning and making money. Any way they can.
Which brings us to college football’s BCS nonsense. Last night, LSU and Alabama supposedly played for the national championship. Why? Because after the regular season – some 45 days ago – the almighty BCS decided that these two teams were the best “contenders”. No matter that they’d already played once this year (a game won by LSU in overtime, 9 – 6). A game that some saw fit to call “the game of the century”. Game of the century? Please. It wasn’t even the game of the day. It was just two very good defenses playing against two mediocre offenses. And these BCS geniuses wanted us to see more of this? Not to worry, they said. The second game – last night’s game – would be different. It would be really, really good. Plenty of offense, they said.
Or maybe not. LSU, the number 1 team in the country (45 days ago), managed less than 100 yards of total offense. And no points. They didn’t even run a play on Alabama’s side of the field until the second half. Impressive.
And Alabama? Just a little better. Five field goals, and then finally, in the 3rd quarter, an actual touchdown. Then they missed the extra point. But no matter. The only way LSU could have scored was if the Alabama guys stayed off the field. And then it might have been difficult. All in all, these two offensive giants scored 1 touchdown in 2 + games. Wow.
So now there are 3 teams, each with only 1 loss, that might legitimately claim to be “the best”. Alabama, LSU, and Oklahoma St. Chances are, they’ll give it to Alabama because they won the “championship” game. Who knows – maybe they are the best.
Anyway, here’s my plug for a Division I playoff system. You know, a setup where you have to win some number of games that culminates in one last contest where the winner is, in fact, the winner. No final vote. No computer rankings. Just actual football games. Seems to me they could play a lot of those things in those 45 empty days.
At least that’s how I see it. Well, that’s how I’d see it if I actually cared.