BCS Champions vs. National Champions: Big Difference

When I hear pundits call tonight’s college football game between Ohio State and Louisiana State the BCS National Championship Game, I cringe.  Tonight’s game is the BCS Championship Game and there is a big difference between a BCS champion and a National champion. 

To be a National champion, more than two teams get a chance to win it.  College Basketball crowns a National champion because 65 teams get a chance to win the national championship.  The BCS Championship is essentially a two team tournament.  The two teams are picked much like judges pick the winner of the Miss America paegeant. 

If LSU or Ohio State wins tonight, there will be people from Kansas, Georgia, USC, and West Virginia that will say that their team was the better team.  And, you know what?  They wouldn’t be wrong. 

When NC State won the 1983 NCAA basketball title, few would say that they were the best team in the land.  When the St. Louis Cardinals won the 2006 World Series, few would say that they were the best baseball team.  The difference however,  is that every college basketball member and all 30 baseball teams had a chance to play well enough in the regular season, qualify for a playoff tournament and then win the tournament, like NC State and St. Louis did.

That doesn’t happen in college football.  College football is more like a job interview.  The candidates enhance their resumes with the regular season, then at the end, a committee picks the top two candidates much like a school board narrows their search for a new superintendent of schools.  Then, the top two candidates play each other for the right to be called BCS Champions.  Even if Ohio State and Louisiana State entered tonight’s game at 12-0 and 13-0 respectively, that still doesn’t mean that the winner would be the undisputed “national champion.”  They might be the undisputed BCS champion, but not the national champion. 

Under this current system, college football cannot crown a national champion because they don’t give access to all 125 Division I football schools.  Division 1-AA does give access to all Division 1-AA schools.  Play well, get a playoff bid and make your run.  College football (D-1) is Figure Skating.  Everybody puts on their best dress, does their best triple axels and salchows and hopes the judges like them and score them high enough to be champion.

The rest of the sports world is track and field.  All the competitiors line up and run 100 meters.  The fastest times advance, while the slower ones are eliminated.  In the end, there is a championship race.  The person who gets to the finish line first is the champion.  No disputes, no controversies, no debate.  The winner may not even be the best runner at the end, but they got to the line first and that’s what a champion does.

As I have said before, I am not clamoring for a college football playoff.  Sure, I would like to see one because people will go nuts with it, they will love it, and college football would overtake baseball as the number two sport in America with ease.  But, in the end, we really don’t need one to make the world better.

But, being accurate is very important and it is very important to call tonight’s game what it really is:  the BCS Championship Game.

John Furgele

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