Friday, November 30, 2007

You Know What Really Grinds My Gears?

(The first in a weekly series of complaints and hand-wringing.

You know what really grinds my gears? The selection process for the non-BCS bowls.

We all spend so much time arguing about the BCS system but really most of us see our alma matters relegated to one of the myriad other bowls that proliferate across the country throughout the month of December. Most of those bowls have affiliations with the various conferences across the country. For example the legendary Humanitarian Bowl traditionally pits the champion of the WAC against the 8th choice team from the ACC. Meanwhile, the Gator Bowl pairs the ACC #3 and the Big 12 #4 in most years. In principle this is not an altogether unappealing way of creating inter-conference rivalries. However, everything falls to pieces when you realize that ACC #3 does not mean that the team finished 3rd in the ACC standings. It means that the team was the third school selected by a bowl.

This really grinds my gears because if BC were to lose tomorrow's ACC Championship Game against Va. Tech they could potentially fall from the BCS Orange Bowl all the way to Champ Sports Bowl played on Dec. 28th, being passed over by the Peach Bowl (or the Chick-fi-A Bowl as it is now called) and the Gator Bowl who have the choices of ACC #2 and ACC #3 respectively. In each instance they would be passed over for a lesser team who didn't reach the Championship game and, in the case of Clemson, who BC actually beat. The Gator Bowl committee claims that they do not want the ACC Championship loser in their game because off their game's proximity to Jacksonville while the Peach Bowl folks are very open about the fact that they're just trying to sell tickets and they feel like Clemson might be a safer bet due to geography and the fact that their are twice as many students there as there are in Chestnut Hill, MA.

Boston College could be passed over in spite of having 10 wins, rising as high as #2 in the rankings and boasting a Heisman-candidate QB because the hosts of the Peach Bowl and the Gator Bowl are skittish about Northerners making the trek down to their games. The idea that some schools "travel" better than others puts a premium on the size of a student population rather than the talent of the team. This takes on an extra level of insidiousness because of the fact that monetary awards are given to the schools. Essentially the big schools get supported whether or not they are any good and smaller schools never get the money they actually need to improve facilities and never get the chance to answer questions about their ability to travel. By sending smaller schools with strong football teams (BC) to lesser bowls in backwards places their travel rep becomes self-fulfilling.

Shouldn't the game that will have to be played on the field be more of a determining factor than who the organizers can sell tickets to? After all, the better the matchup the more tickets you'll be able to sell to non-alumnus. With good games you could actually sell tickets to real football fans in your host city. Now, there's a novel idea! But by forgoing the best teams for the biggest student crowd you force yourself to sell tickets only to those two fanbases because no one else in your area wants to see mediocrity.

Of course, none of this will matter once Matty Ice takes the field in Jacksonville and dominates. BC will head to the Orange Bowl and the Peach Bowl won't pass on Virginia Tech and their 25,000 students. But the fact that this sort of thing is even possible really, really grinds my gears.

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