Baseline Shorks

January 14, 2010 11:40 AM

It's Possible the BCS Gurus are (kind of) Right

Before I get started on the BCS's notion that "many more teams and fans go home happy this way", a quick addendum to the last blog about the Womens NCAA Volleyball championship.

First, Penn State is part of the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association, a slight but definite mis-labeling. Secondly, I had intended to follow that volleyball story with one that was, with all due respect to the situation in Haiti, about an earth-shakingly important event in the volleyball world--the 1982 Jose Cuervo Open at Clearwater Beach in FL. While my buddy Ivan Marquez and I wound up as one of about 55 judges for a bikini contest that weekend, the primary importance of the event was that it represented the first time pro beach volleyball left the insular southern California scene. Ivan wondered at that time if the pros would be willing to travel all over for their paydays vs. play, party, be locally famous. While I cannot locate what would obviously be an ancient original copy of that article, I do know Karch Kiraly was part of one winning duo, and Misty May (though I'm almost certain it wasn't May then) was a winner too. No doubt about it, the game *definitely* took off from that point, Olympic sport and millions-of-bucks-and-prime time-TV are very valid proof of that.

Back to the idea that the BCS is better for fans and institutions than say, the NCAA's March Madness deal, where a champion is crowned in three long weekends of high caliber excitement. Quite frankly, I watch a LOT of hoops during that time, and I watched a lot more of the 34 bowl games this year than I have in the past. I've never really had any problem with more than one group of fans holding that special digit aloft and shouting "We're #1!" Even with Pete Carroll's move back to the NFL, the usual tally of his success at USC is still "two titles and shared another." People don't forget they were *this close* to being the best, no matter what the computers say about ranking teams 1-2 and saying their game represents the ultimate battle.

I really can't argue with the happiness factor as something to consider as desirable vs. having even two more games to pair off exceptionally worthy final fours. Consider these other-than-that-specific-game situations:

  • Bobby Bowden keeps his streak of 33 consecutive winning seasons alive when Florida State beats West Virginia 33-21 in the Gator Bowl. (Note: I saw these same teams in a driving rain storm a LONG time ago--1975?--for my first bowl game ever. "How 'bout them 'eers?!" still rings in my head.) If the FSU fans have been dissatisfied with the lack of 'Finishes Second Usually' success Bowden brought for so many years, they were definitely cheered by winning this game.
  • NAVY! putting a 35-13 whipping on Mizzou, running their triple option for 385 yards on what was supposed to be a strong Tiger D. Along with Air Force's six pickoff, 47-20 victory over pass-happy Houston, you'd be hard pressed to find happier groups anywhere than the academies.
  • AUBURN *finally* driving a stake in Northwestern's heart in a 38-35 barnburner that the Auburn coach said his team won three times--and if you watched the Outback Bowl you'd tend to agree. If N'western fans haven't tasted bowl victory in 61 years, they were still hoarse from cheering a team that went to a final fake field goal in OT and a QB that threw **78** passes and was involved in 20 running plays.
  • Arkansas, perhaps more grateful that joyous, after the kicker for Eastern Carolina missed three field goals (39, 39, 35 yards) at the the end of the Liberty Bowl and overtime. It strained the fans to sit in some abnormally cold-windy conditions, but even a 20-17 win because the other guy sucks beats *losing* in that kind of misery.
  • Ohio State, believe it or not, was ECSTATIC about winning the Rose Bowl, even if it wasn't The Game for #1. For once they wore the winners hats at the end of a season, and that, plus the fact that QB Terrelle Pryor stopped playing like a robot, was joy personified. Gator Nation felt nothing but joy while watching Florida pummel undefeated Cincinnati, with the departing Tim Tebow's tour-de-force game and Urban Meyer's finale an adequate salve to losing the SEC championship to Alabama. That 'Bama won it all, including their first Heisman Trophy player in the month between those final two games, was obviously about happiness. And, while it might not be their first reaction, Texas *should* be happy with how their freshman QB Garrett Gilbert finally got the offense rolling in fourth quarter. While the the team had looked almost incompetent for three quarters after Colt McCoy was KO'd early, Gilbert *is* the new sheriff in Austin, 3 interceptions or not.

    On the bottom line, they say its politics about who gets to play for the biggest prize--some weren't even happy that undefeated TCU and Boise State had a major bowl to play themselves. Watching Utah win its ninth straight bowl (Poinsetta, 37-27 over Cal), I gave a ton of credit to the commentator who suggested that the Mountain West conference teams had probably been told to quit bitchin' about being overlooked and just *thump* whoever got put in bowls against their teams.

    THAT is how you should be thinking at the end of the year, and while their success (forget about the $$) should definitely make it somewhat easier to get more favorable ranking when things begin again in 2010, isn't it enough that soooo many teams and people DID go home happy?

    Glenn S.