January 3, 2006

I went to an NCAA Division III school after graduating from a high school that didn't care about football. I actually made an effort today to watch the FedEx Orange Bowl pitting Penn State against Florida State. I'm watching House now.

The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is supposed to pluck the eight best football teams in the country from a field of hundreds and, in the course of four games, determine which team is "the best." How do we know a team is one of the eight best? Because sportswriters say so and because the team comes from one conference. The FedEx Orange Bowl pitted Penn State, supposedly the third-best team in the country, against Florida State which enters the game as the twenty-second best team in the nation. This is a national television event? In any other sport, a pairing that lopsided would be Wednesday afternoon fodder on a satellite TV channel.

The only argument I can find in favor of the BCS is that players would have to play too many games during the academic term if there were a proper playoff system in place. Give me a break. How much time do the future NFL players on these elite teams actually spend studying towards a proper degree? They might as well be in correspondence classes. The NCAA claims it doesn't exploit its athletes by forbidding all order of endorsements and compensation for the players, but I don't see much altruism displayed during ESPN's exclusive coverage of the Home Depot College Gameday Show Delivered By DHL Live From the FreeHomeMortgageQuotes.com Sports Arena Centre.

Profesional sports leagues are so far behind. Major League Baseball must be kicking themselves: if only they could sell the naming rights to every game of every playoff series so fans could enjoy Cingular Wireless Presents the American League Championship Series Game Two. If the BCS is fair, the National Football League should just ditch its convoluted tiebreaker system and pick the two teams it wants to see in each round of the playoffs.

As a B.S. in computer science and a sports fan, I don't really like the creep of algorithm design into football TV scheduling. Play some more meaningful games and I'll watch.

Update Wed Jan 4: Wow, three overtimes to decide such a meaningless game. I'm glad I went to sleep before regulation was even over.