BCS Hype: Wake Me Up When It’s Over
By the time you read this, an NCAA football champion will have been crowned. Of course, one should have been crowned by the time you read last week’s paper. But noooo, the TV networks waved a few more million shekels in the NCAA’s face to put off the Bowl Championship Series title game until a full week after New Year’s Day so they could hype it beyond all belief, and naturally they caved in quicker than a Bush toadie when asked for advice on a troop surge.
I could almost understand it when the networks decided to play the BCS championship game the day after New Year’s. Mythical though the championship has been, it did make some sense to give it a day unto itself. But not a whole week because… well, it’s still mythical, still not determined by eliminating some other teams to get to the pinnacle. The week of hype is an attempt to make it sound like a mythic struggle but at the end of the week it’s still a mythical championship.
As one whose passion in life is sports and who has even made money writing about them at various times in his so-called career, I can truthfully tell you that I don’t really give a rat’s ass who won the Ohio State-Florida game. In fact, I hope it was a merciless blowout one way or the other, that most of the fans left by halftime, that most of the folks who tuned in at home switched over to the “Laverne and Shirley” marathon on Nick at Nite, and that all the advertisers whose spot didn’t run until the fourth quarter demanded a refund.
There are certain rhythms in the wide and often wonderful world of sports, and putting off a bowl game until after four NFL playoff games have been played violates one of those rhythms. There are natural bridges between one sports season and the next, and this violates one of them. More so than the arrant greed of the proliferation of meaningless bowl games between six and five teams and the idiocy of not having a Division I playoff system in place two decades ago, I am offended that this transgression is disrupting the natural rhythms of sports.
It goes back, I am sure, to childhood. The day after baseball season was over you dug your football uni out of the garage and started choosing up sides. The day after football season ended, you headed to the Y and started playing horse. And the day after hoops season expired, you got out the bats and glove and tried to find a ball that still had enough seams left to play roller bat. One season meshed seamlessly with the next, no breaks and no overlap, and all was right with the world.
Even now, the beauty of the Final Four is that it ends on the first Monday in March and major league baseball starts on the first Tuesday. Just as one season ends, another begins; it’s the natural order of things. It’s the way the God of my understanding intended. You don’t start the pro football playoffs until after all the college games are concluded. That’s just the way it’s supposed to be, dadburnit. I’ve already shifted gears into making my Super Bowl picks and now I have to revert back to boola-boola land for a contrived, made-for-TV reality show with the combatants chosen by a computer.
Nope, not me. The only three bowl games I watched this year were the ones involving the best story in all of college football, Wake Forest; my alma mater, East Carolina; and Boise State, which was by far the best game of the year, probably of the decade. Monday I’ll watch the Carolina Hurricanes. I’ll watch “Prison Break.” I’ll even join the throngs of “Laverne and Shirley” fanatics who’ve given up on what I expect to be an Ohio State walkover and grabbed the remote. But I’ll not break down and watch the BCS Urinal Bowl.
Oh, I could rant about all the ills of big-time college athletics, about TV calling the tune and everyone else paying the piper, about the greed and win-at-all-cost mentality that has filtered down to the high school level, but you’ve heard all that before. Crimony, I wrote my first column detailing how a college football playoff system could work in 1985. And nothing’s changed since then that would restore any sanity to the bowl picture, so what’s the use? In fact, it’s gotten worse, much worse. The only thing that keeps it remotely worthwhile for me is the occasional Wake Forest story, the underdog story that defies all logic.
So, as I await the Super Bowl, the ‘Canes’ run at another Stanley Cup and Duke’s run to another ACC basketball crown… Schlemiel, Schlemazel, Hassenfeffer Incorporated.
Ogi may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, heard Tuesdays 9:30-10 am on “The Dusty Dunn Show” on WGOS 1070 AM, and seen Fridays 6:30-7 am on ABC45 and Sundays 10-10:30 pm on MY48 on “Triad Today” hosted by Jim Longworth.