Joe Knows

You probably wouldn’t guess it by the appearance of the smug-looking fella to the right of this sentence, but I’m in the minority — I’m among the few college football fans who think the BCS does a solid job. Most of the time, that is.

The much-maligned Bowl Championship Series is nerdy, computer-based and difficult for sports talk radio hosts to grasp—a fatal three strikes for the typical American football fan.

However, the BCS is a satisfactory system that keeps the traditional bowl games intact and offers a viable alternative to an impractical playoff proposal.

The fundamental purpose and principal idea, as stated by the Bowl Championship Series website, is “to ensure that the two top-rated teams in the country meet in the national championship game, and to create exciting and competitive matchups among eight other highly regarded teams in four other bowl games.”

In the case of pitting the top two teams in the national championship game, the BCS is impeccable (and it is doing the job once again this season as an LSU-Alabama rematch appears imminent).

The epic contests we’ve seen in recent years, such as Texas-USC in 2006 and Ohio State-Miami in 2003, are validation that this system has it pegged.

Even if it means straying from trendy picks.

In 2007, fans clamored for a rematch of Michigan-Ohio State following the Buckeyes’ three-point win in the season finale, but the BCS selected Florida to face top-ranked Ohio State.

The result? A Gator blowout that left fans asking, “Michigan who?”

Yep, the BCS has the title game down pat.

However, note the second objective in the BCS statement: to create matchups among eight other highly regarded teams.

Reading this message is the only explanation I could come up with as to why some teams are selected over others.

Consider the case of Michigan State, who, with a 10-2 regular-season record, won the Big 10 Leaders Division by taking a head-to-head tiebreaker with Michigan. However, the Spartans are fighting for their BCS lives as they head into Saturday’s conference championship game as touchdown underdogs to Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, Michigan, with an identical 10-2 record, and having just finished its season with a win over rival Ohio State, is projected to be slated into the Sugar Bowl by ESPN. This, despite the fact that the Wolverines will be calling Pizza Hut instead of zone blitzes Saturday.

Seems as if Sparty is getting punished for beating Big Blue, doesn’t it?

But the BCS, as I read it, is not issuing a referendum on which it has determined are the 10 best teams. Rather, it is just declaring that the teams in the Sugar, Fiesta, Orange and Rose bowls are “highly regarded.”

This is one of the more prevailing misconceptions out there, and the BCS’ attempt at clarity is the only possible reason for Michigan making hotel reservations for Bourbon Street.

So if we’re going by the BCS’ rules, theoretically speaking, a team in the Champs Sports Bowl could be considered better than the Wolverines. And I like the sound of that.

JOE CUNEO

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