One Person's Opinion

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Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Hey, I hate the Bowl Championship Series as much as anyone. (You'll have to scroll down to the item on the BCS.) But this idea that California is getting screwed because they aren't going to the Rose Bowl is silly. California did not earn a trip to the Rose Bowl this year. Yes, they had a great season, a couple of mistakes and hard-luck plays away from beating USC and going undefeated. But the only Pac-10 team that earns a Rose Bowl trip is the team that wins the conference. And USC won the conference. In the old pre-BCS days, California would have gone to a second-tier bowl-- or maybe, if they were lucky, to a top bowl like the Orange or Cotton Bowl. (It should be noted that a second Pac-10 team went to a major bowl something like once every 30 years.) The BCS creates the possibility that a second place team goes to the Rose Bowl when the first place team goes to the BCS championship game-- but it doesn't guarantee it.

When postseason rewards are keyed to conference championships, teams do get penalized for finishing second in tough conferences. But that doesn't mean that the system is unfair. In the days when only the conference champion went to the NCAA basketball tournament, USC once went 24-2 and was shut out of the tournament-- because its two losses were to conference (and eventual national) champion UCLA. But that system also had its advantages-- USC knew when the season began exactly what it had to do to make the tournament, and wasn't able to do it. In contrast, under the current system, every year the selection committee is criticized for its subjective judgments as to who to let in and who to leave out.

I can't wait for the day that we scrap the BCS and go to a playoff. As long as we have this stupid system, however, everyone knows the rules. If you win a BCS conference, you are guaranteed a BCS bowl slot. Otherwise, you aren't. California didn't win the Pac-10, and therefore can't complain. End of story.

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