The BCS passed over Oklahoma State for its BCS “National” “Championship” game. The Cowboys, losers of one double-overtime contest, dominators of Oklahoma, and champions of the Big “XII” Conference, lost out in favor of SEC title game non-participant Alabama. This, despite the fact that said BCS title game will feature the Crimson Tide playing the team that already defeated it, LSU.
Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban’s self-serving take: “I don’t see why there’s any reason to keep mulling over the [BCS] system . . . LSU’s the #1 team and we’re the #2 team.”
Nothing to see here, folks! It’s self-evident that this is the right title game because the somewhat arbitrary system we’ve created says so, and a prominent figure from the almighty SEC agrees! Move along, move along.
Adding to the frustration factor is the fact that the BCS has a gifted spin machine that released this just seconds after ESPN made the official on-air announcement of the games:
(Headline: Best Regular Season in Sports Ends as BCS Announces Bowl Pairings)
“Once again, the BCS has delivered a regular season that was exciting from opening kickoff to final whistle, while providing a great championship matchup,” said Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the BCS. “The top-ranked teams in all the polls—LSU and Alabama—will meet in the national championship game, and there are four other outstanding BCS bowl pairings. No. 3 Oklahoma State made a real run at the top this weekend; this year the difference between number two and number three was the closest ever under our existing rankings formula. Congratulations to the student-athletes and their coaches. An exciting and memorable bowl experience awaits all of them, and I can’t wait to watch.”
Putting aside the obvious fact that the BCS is never going to say anything other than “The BCS is great,” there’s an inherent problem with the logic of their argument.
Namely, the entire premise of the BCS is that the regular season matters. In fact, the motto of the BCS is (the now sadly ironic) “Every Game Counts.”
The results tonight raise the potential paradox that, if the lynchpin of the pro-BCS argument is that every regular season game is of great importance, then how can a team that already lost to LSU get a second chance to play the Tigers?
More to the point, what happens if Alabama beats LSU by, say, three points? What does that prove? Or what happens if Oklahoma State beats Stanford by five touchdowns?
The internal logic of such a system collapses upon itself: The same squad got two cracks at the top-ranked team in the country under a scheme premised on the notion that each regular season game is of the utmost significance.
If the assertion is that we don’t need a playoff because the regular season is a quasi-playoff, then a rematch proves this assertion to be false.
The BCS can’t have it both ways. If the system is legitimate because the “enhanced” regular season is an adequate substitute for a postseason tournament, then giving the same team two shots to win one game against LSU is unfair. Not just to Oklahoma State, but to LSU.
In a system with a playoff, my contention would be absurd: The Green Bay Packers know that there’s a reasonable likelihood that they’ll have to defeat a team they already played to win another world title. But the alleged “beauty” of the BCS is that a regular season game between two top teams is a “must-win” game.
Even within the context of the diminished expectations of a non-playoff system, is there any combination of outcomes (short of an LSU victory) that would produce an entirely-satisfactory and agreed-upon “champion?”
In the circular thinking of the BCS apologists, I’m sure the answer is a self-evident, “Yes, because, by definition, we have a championship game. It says so on the cover of the program.”