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Bowls? Swing and a myth

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One of the Webster’s dictionary’s definitions for mythical is “existing only in the imagination.”

So enjoy the BCS national championship game on Monday night.

The game is straight out of the imagination of those who designed the BCS system. There is nothing real about this national championship, even if it does include No. 1-ranked Notre Dame and No. 2-ranked Alabama.

For years, The Associated Press poll or the coaches’ poll would crown a national champion. Some argued it was a popularity vote and as mythical as could be. The BCS system was introduced to make things more real.

It never has worked, and it never will.

The reason is that the system is a cheat.

Make that a repulsive cheat.

The problem always has been the beginning of the season, not the end. That’s where all the teams are rated, or un-rated if you will, and garbage information is fed into the computers. Garbage in, garbage out. The teams ranked high at the beginning of the season, before a game is played, have an advantage over those that aren’t ranked. So much for an even playing field.

Everything that happens in the BCS system is, bottom line, based on opinion.

The truth is known by just about everyone, and that’s why we are going to get a “playoff” after the 2014 season that includes four teams. Yikes.

OK, is it a little better? Yeah, a little. Will we still have an unfair playing field and opinion deciding who should be included in the playoffs? Absolutely.

It’s rather simple, really. The NCAA members should decide whether they want to stick with a bowl format, where conference championships are the main goal for each program and bowl games are a reward for a job well done, or go to a real playoff system.

I’m OK with bowls as glorified exhibitions. It’s kind of fun, especially when bowl committees are free to set up their own match-ups. But if we are trying to decide a national champion through a tournament, I’m talking at least 32 teams.

In a perfect college football world, the conferences would be redefined by geography, let’s say into 16 conferences. Each conference would get two entries into the national championship tournament. If you aren’t one of the top two teams in your conference and you think you should be included, just shut up. Play better next year.

If the conferences are shuffled and North Texas is in the same conference as Oklahoma, tough darts. No more whining from “non-BCS conference teams” that they are being overlooked. Put up or drop down a division. Each conference needs cellar-dwellers, too.

If the NCAA doesn’t want to realign conferences (and we have learned the last few years that no university has any loyalty to a conference anyway), then keep things the way they are and give each conference two berths into the tournament and pick the rest by at-large selections (back to opinion again). By the way, those four independent teams, Notre Dame, BYU, Army and Navy, would be forced to join a conference or find another organization. The NAIA needs teams, too.

Oh, and that means the bowl system as we know it would disappear. Well, we used to ride horses to work.

I’m sure some people would have an “Oh, heavens, no” reaction to all this change. Change can be difficult.

Think, though, about this season’s Elite Eight. Imagine having Notre Dame and Alabama joined by Oregon, Stanford, Clemson, Georgia, Texas A&M and Florida State. Or perhaps even a quickly-improving Syracuse or obscure Utah State would make a run.

Would Texas A&M and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel have a shot to win it all? I think so.

A&M and Oregon certainly looked like they could stake a claim as being the best is the country.

But we will never know.

Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at or 379-5632.

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