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BCS remains sticky, stinky situation

WashPost: Fans must wait for college football playoff
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville and his players couldn't have done any better this season, and they still have no national title hopes anymore.Ric Feld / AP

Auburn got hosed. Cal got hosed. The Rose Bowl has a game nobody wants to see. In a season with five undefeated big-time teams, only two of them are playing each other. A Pitt team with three losses is getting a bid while undefeated Boise State is not. There are undesirable matchups all over the bowl landscape. The last three weeks were all about running up the scores, coaches lobbying publicly for votes in the polls, one to the point of accusing a network of prejudice because of a television contract.

Other than that, the Bowl Championship Series is just fine.

Actually, the BCS stinks.

It's a plague on college sports in general, on college football specifically.

It's an indictment of the university presidents who continue to force this bowl system on us, leaving Division I-A college football as the only sport whose caretakers are too dumb to decide the competition on the field of play.

And in case you think this is about players missing class time or too many games, stop thinking that. Right now, teams in Division I-AA, Division II and Division III are competing in college football playoffs, as it ought to be.

Already, as complaints come in from various precincts, you can hear the conversations bubbling up as to what can be done next year to tweak the BCS system. And the answer is, whatever is done won't make the BCS satisfying, or for that matter palatable. It's better than the old bowl system, which would have had Big 12 champ Oklahoma in the Orange, Southeastern Conference champ Auburn in the Sugar, Pacific-10 champ Southern Cal in the Rose, Mountain West champ Utah in the Fiesta, none playing each other.

But this is only marginally better, just enough to be infuriating because it's so lacking in imagination. Even with the BCS, instead of undefeated Utah playing also-undefeated Auburn in the Sugar, the Utes will be playing in the Fiesta against Pitt, which has three losses, including to Syracuse and Nebraska. The BCS doesn't just inadequately match No. 1 vs. No. 2; that's just for starters. The BCS also kills all the other bowl matchups because the BCS allots teams to its affiliated bowls with no regard for tradition, no regard for upstart teams people might want to see. You have to be pretty dumb not to see how attractive a Utah vs. Auburn game would be. Everybody who thinks Utah is not worthy and everybody who thinks Utah is really one of the big boys could find out what the deal is. See, some of us are old enough to remember when Miami — that's right the University of Miami Hurricanes — were Utah, when people thought they had absolutely zero chance to beat Nebraska in the 1984 Orange Bowl. Suppose Utah is the new Marshall, which came out of nowhere to produce Randy Moss, Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich?

The NCAA men's basketball selection committee usually has a sense of theater when putting together the 65-team tournament field. If the BCS was going to destroy the traditional bowl matchups, then go all the way and put Cal against Texas, since Longhorns Coach Mack Brown's whining influenced some Texas voters to bump Cal out of the Rose Bowl.

As a graduate of a Big Ten school, here's what I know beyond a shadow of a doubt about the Rose Bowl: Nobody wants to see Texas in the Rose Bowl. People who go to the Rose Bowl want to see a Big Ten school vs. a Pac-10 school, period. And it's not like Texas is in the Rose Bowl for a good reason.

Cal lost its only game to top-ranked USC in Los Angeles by six points, 23-17.

Texas lost its only game to No. 2 Oklahoma by 12 at a neutral site, in Dallas.

So how did Cal, which traveled halfway across the country to beat bowl-bound Southern Mississippi, drop below idle Texas in the polls?

Mack Brown's lobbying, of course. I don't blame Brown for hating the BCS and taking his case public because I hate the BCS as well. But Cal shouldn't be punished for it. Cal, not Texas, should be playing Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

Even more heinous than Cal being knocked down to the Holiday Bowl, is Auburn not having a chance to play for the national championship. I don't want to hear about what wouldn't have happened 30 years ago in the old days of college football. We've got cell phones and plasma screens and instant replay, so there ought to be a system that reflects a contemporary approach to declaring a national champion. USC beat two ranked teams during the season. Oklahoma beat three ranked teams. Auburn beat four (Georgia, LSU and Tennessee twice). I understand Auburn's nonconference schedule was a joke (Louisiana Monroe, Louisiana Tech and The Citadel), but Auburn did win the SEC, which is better than the Pac-10, better than the Big 12.

All big-time college football needs is an eight-team playoff, which is half the size of the playoff in Division I-AA. Right now, in my playoff, No. 8 Louisville would play No. 1 USC, No. 7 Boise State would play No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 6 Utah would play No. 3 Auburn, No. 5 Texas would play No. 4 Cal, and each one of those matchups would take place in a different bowl game. The four winners would play two games in a doubleheader at yet another bowl site, and the semifinalists would meet in the championship game.

With no summer "classics" and no more than one bye week, no extra games for playing in Hawaii, the season could still be wrapped up by the first week of January, as it is now. UCLA, for whatever reason, just had three weeks off before playing USC. There are always 13 Saturdays in September, October and November. The season can be shortened and include a playoff if the powers-that-be want to do it.

But they don't. They tinker every year, yet fail to deliver all anybody wants: a satisfying end to the season.

They want to feed us this BCS garbage year after year because the university presidents are too trifling to see the wisdom in taking college football's championship out of the hands of voters and computers and settling the matter where it ought to be settled: on the field.