September 22, 2014

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Doug Clarke: Playoff only thing that can save BCS from itself

Basically, it wound up just the way Buckeye fans prayed it would: Ohio State vs. Somebody. The top two teams playing for the national title. Or are they?
Here, just because no one asked, are Clarke`s Top 10 College Football Teams for this season:
1. LSU
2. Southern Cal
3. Oklahoma
4. Georgia
5. Ohio State
6. Mizzou
7. West Virginia
8. Kansas
T9. Florida
T9. Oregon*
(* Oregon with an uninjured Dixon at QB, which he was for 10 of 12 weeks.)
Thus, in an eight-team playoff format (which is four teams too many, really) the Buckeyes would play Georgia in the first round. (1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7,
3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5)
Why too many? See Clarke`s Logic, which goes: If you know who the top four teams are, why fuss with teams 5 through 8? You give those teams an “attaboy,” but no cigar.
In a four-team playoff (which would be ideal), Ohio State doesn`t make the cut – which is basically what you can say about the Big Ten this season.
Either way – a four-teamer or an eight-teamer – it seems silly if not downright arcane and wrongheaded for the NCAA NOT to have a playoff in Divison I. One could buy the old “that`s too many games for student-athletes to play in a season” if it weren`t for the fact that both Division II and Division III have playoffs which extend the top two teams to 13 and 14 games.
In a season in which schedules were upped to 12 and 13 games (counting conference playoffs), it was nearly impossible for teams to stay “up” for that many weeks. That so many top teams had two losses is not surprising at all.
Much of the damage was done inside the SEC, the
Big 12 and the PAC-10, the toughest conferences in the country, with teams helping to kill each other off.
For my money, Ohio State is in the BCS title game because of a down year in the Big 10 and a pansy-like independent schedule of Akron, Kent and Youngstown State. In accepting the bowl bid, the Buckeyes should have the good grace to at least blush.
On Sunday morning, ESPN did a long montage of season highlights covering the 13 weeks. It was chock full of dramatic moments from the SEC, the PAC-10, the Big 12 and the ACC. The Big Ten? There was only a quick shot of Appalachian State upsetting Michigan in Week 1 and a quickie vignette of the Illini players celebrating after upsetting Ohio State.
And that was it.
The NCAA keeps putting off talk about playoffs because it loves the bowls so much. Swell. Tell me how much the folks at USC are going to be pumped up for a game against Big 10 runner-up Illinois. Wouldn`t the Rose Bowl be even bigger if USC was playing a first-round playoff game instead?
Why couldn`t the Fiesta, the Orange, the Sugar and the Rose Bowl be used as playoff game sites – with the championship game being rotated among those four bowls?
(Answer: It could — and it can, if the NCAA had a mind to.)
If any good is to come out of this season, it might be that everyone involved determines that, yes, the BCS standings are totally whack. In the end, the BCS computer even cheated. Sort of. It jumped LSU over Georgia (and two other teams) to make sure it had an Ohio State-LSU title game, which is the more sexy attraction.
The primary fault of the BCS is that it drops a team too many rungs after its initial (and inevitable) defeat. If an unbeaten team is ranked No. 1, 2 or 3, why on earth should it be punished all the way down to No. 9, 10 or 11 with its first loss?
And not once, until the very end, did the computer – or the Abbie Normal brains which operate it – calculate the Injury Factor. Like USC losing to Oregon with Josh Booty injured – and being dropped to No. 11. Like West Virginia being No. 2 – until Pat White goes down with a dislocated thumb. And so West Virginia takes the fall for that, Kirk Herbstreit saying out loud on TV, “West Virginia didn`t handle the pressure well.”
C`mon, Kirk. Pat White wasn`t around for most of the game and that makes the Mountaineers a different team.
Today, there are eight (count `em) teams that can claim to be No. 1, or at least No. 2. Even if you disagree with the order of Clarke`s Top 10, you would still come up with the same eight.
Of all seasons, this would be the one where a playoff begs to be played. The format is down on bended knee, crying to be unleashed on a football-mad citizenry which clamors for it.
Four teams or eight teams. Pick it. I can go either way, really. But for pity sake let`s get it decided on the field and not in a computer laboratory with a brain lifted from a jar marked “Abbie Normal.”
Contact Doug Clarke at ctsports@chroniclet.com.