Empty bowls

College football championship system has little value or logic

Money can’t buy you class or credibility. Take college football. Please.


The game has never been so awash in money, and maybe that’s the root of the problem.

It’s cash that has the game stuck in an antiquated, clubby and legally, morally and athletically questionable “Bowl Championship Series” – which, outside of the national championship game, largely pits whichever teams bowl organizers think they can make the most money off of. Merit hardly matters, as The Chronicle’s Scott Michaux noted the other day.

“The Sugar Bowl committee bypassed more worthy, but lower-profile, programs Boise State and Kansas State to invite big-name conference also-rans Virginia Tech and Michigan,” he wrote. “The idea was that their fan bases would flock to the French Quarter in droves. Turns out the joke was on them, because Hokies and Wolverines fans were too unimpressed with their teams’ unfulfilled seasons to want to spend a small fortune to watch a meaningless game to see which might claim a final top-10 ranking.”

Then, zeroing in on the heart of the beast, Michaux added, “If the BCS bowls aren’t going to be based on merit, they have no value. If they have no value, they should be flushed.”

He’s right. The BCS system is built by the big-money bowls to 1) keep others out of the money pie and 2) exploit these student athletes as much as possible while 3) denying them a shot at a merit-based playoff system and a real national championship.

Southeastern Conference fans have yet another reason to rail against the bowls this week, after organizers somehow managed the awkward feat of scheduling three SEC favorites – Georgia, South Carolina and Florida – to play all at the same time Monday. Whose bright idea was that?

They all have different fan bases, of course – but the SEC, the most respected conference in college football, is family. We all have our alma maters and favorite teams, but many of us have friends and family who attend, attended or just like to follow other SEC teams. The bowl folks made it impossible to follow all three on Monday.

How’d they manage that? Considering the fact that the bowl season now lasts longer than a Kim Kardashian marriage, you almost have to go out of your way to have all three teams playing at once.

Money is also at the core of the insanity that is now breaking up longtime conference affiliations and regional rivalries: Any team with a lucrative television market is now being sought and signed by any conference able to grab it.

What a shame that geographic and traditional rivalries are being blown up for some quick cash. And how much sense does it make to have teams crisscrossing the country every weekend to play games? How green is that?

Oops. We forgot. The other green counts for more.



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