Burgos: BCS: It’s all about the money

By Evan Burgos

Tonight when you turn on your television, say around 8 p.m., you’ll most likely find yourself… Tonight when you turn on your television, say around 8 p.m., you’ll most likely find yourself tuned into the BCS National Championship game between Texas and Alabama. Both programs went undefeated this season, and both deserve to play in the game.

The only problem is, the Crimson Tide and the Longhorns aren’t the only teams in the country deserving of that opportunity. What I’m trying to say is this: The BCS system is a bunch of junk and college football needs to go to a tournament format for the postseason.

Fans and sports casters alike make the argument every year. There is rarely a definitive year-end No. 1 team in college football, because typically there are more than two teams worthy of playing in the championship game. This year the third team turns out to be Boise State, which dropped formerly undefeated TCU in the Fiesta Bowl Monday.

But here is why the BCS is innately wrong when it comes to collegiate sports: It’s about profits and exploiting student athletes. It is a system driven purely by capital — it is far more about making money than competitive legitimacy and the growth of young adults. If the players were professional athletes, it might be acceptable, but they are students.

The winners of the six major conferences — the Big East, Big Ten, Big Twelve, SEC, Pac-10 and ACC — get automatic bids to a BCS bowl game. The top two ranked teams nationally at season’s end go to the championship game. In order to be ranked No. 1 or No. 2, teams have to start the season ranked fairly high and preseason rankings are voted on by coaches from around the country to begin the year. Typically, powerhouse teams from mid-major conferences like Boise State do not begin the season ranked within the top-10. This year the Broncos started the season at No. 14.

Though Boise State finished the regular season 13-0, with an impressive win against Oregon and a flawless conference record, the team finished just sixth nationally heading into their bowl game. Despite a strong schedule that included six road games, the Broncos started the year in too big of a hole to ever ascend to No. 1 or 2.

So, how does this happen? Well, it’s obvious. When coaches vote on preseason rankings, coaches from major conference tend to favor bigger schools based on reputation, ignoring factors like strength of schedule (see: Texas). The higher the major teams are ranked from the outset, the better probability they will be standing one or two at year’s end. So, what’s the incentive? Well, when a team reaches a BCS bowl game, $17.5 million is given to each conference represented. The more major teams in BCS games, the more money that is paid to each program. The rich get richer. Somebody call in Robin Hood, because this is highway robbery.

Not to mention that college football coaches don’t get paid to know the best 25 teams in the country. They get paid to know their schedules and win games. No coach can submit a fully valid list of programs in the top-25 because it’s too subjective and they simply don’t know.

The obvious remedy is to transition to a tournament format. I think the top eight teams at the end of the season should hold a single elimination tourney to declare a victor — call it January Madness. Give every conference represented, say, $5 million just for qualifying, then use the rest of the money (a total of $87.5 million is given now) to pay teams and conferences for each round they advanced. We still won’t have fixed the problem of the money-saturated culture of collegiate sports, but at least we will have instituted fair competition.

That way, we can see who really is the best — Texas, Bama or Boise State. We wouldn’t have to speculate, we wouldn’t have to gripe and people would still get paid.

Will it happen any time soon? Probably not. Is it the right thing to do? I think so.