Harvey Perlman, chairman of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, must be a masterful bureaucrat. Not only does he have a baffling title, he also has a straw man in his pocket, and isn't afraid to pull it out and shake it at you until you get frightened enough to agree with his unsubstantiated and overly dramatic point. Question: Say, Harvey, what is the alternative to the much maligned BCS? Answer: BOOGITY BOOGITY!!! (shakes straw man argument 'til its arms fall off.)â†µ
What I think most people don’t understand is that the alternative to the current system is not a playoff. The alternative to the BCS is going back to our traditional relationship with our bowl partners.â†µ
Translation: If you're not with the BCS, you're against the BCS. Sadly, there is little evidence that arguing for a playoff is a weapon of mass destruction pointed directly at the BCS, which in itself is a kind of fetal playoff early in its gestation. The possibility of bringing '88 back and going pure bowl system does not exist because people don't tend to like to turn off faucets that spout cash, and that is precisely what the BCS has been and could continue to be for quite a while. Money in hand tends to stay money in hand, and therefore the BCS ain't going anywhere as long as people like watching football on television.â†µ
As problematic as this is for someone who sees the flaws in the system, I can't help but stick up for the system in one respect: the BCS, while not a championship system (i.e. a playoff,) does attempt to create a compelling matchup to end the season that more often than not crowns something like a winner. (Watch your step or you'll trip over all those qualifiers.) The old bowl system makes no such effort, and is pure exhibition from which sportswriters and other assorted poll voters extracted their pick for the finest team in the land that year. This sometimes went very, very poorly, and if you care to talk about how poorly it could go, you can ask 1994 Penn State about the virtues of the old bowl-only system.â†µ
Then again, Auburn 2004 would care to have a word with you about the evils of the current system, too. Neither is perfect. A playoff has its own evils, too, and a fair-minded supporter of a college football playoff has to acknowledge that fact, too. To say it's not a possibility, though, is to use the kind of absolutist language used by faceless totalitarian regimes everywhere. And coming on the heels of this comment by Air Force coach Troy Calhoun:â†µ
"We basically have a system for college football that too closely resembles the old Soviet Presidium," Calhoun said, referring to the policymaking and governing body of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. "You have a seven-member politburo that's decided if you aren't one of those party members, then you're unable to participate."â†µ
... well, it's hard to dodge the charge when you're walking face-first into the label opponents are hanging on you as Perlman did in that interview. Not the most auspicious beginnings for Perlman, or for those of us who might want to try on a playoff once just to see how sexy it looks off the rack. Until then, we'll just keep wearing these rags that other sports point at while laughing uncontrollably. (Stan Van Gundy, stop. I've seen what you wear. Like a strip club manager fresh off gastric bypass, I tell you. Everyone else gets to point first, then you.)â†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.