When I was learning how to drive a stick-shift, I did so like many youths in Mississippi - off major roads with my dad. I remember - as I was cursing the clutch - my dad telling me, "It's not the machine; it's the operator." Funny, I pulled the same line on him when he decided that he needed to learn how to do this internet thing. As is true with manual transmissions, internets, and all other sorts of complex systems, these things are designed by smart people with the knowledge that they will function smoothly and efficiently by well-trained operators.
This assumption is a key failure of the Bowl Championship Series.
I am among the minority fans of the BCS. I enjoy the importance of bowl games, conference championships, undefeated seasons. In my opinion, the BCS has either enhanced or left unmolested all those aspects of college football, while raising its overall profile. And I would say that I am among a vast majority who consider the BCS an improvement over the previous system - that is to say - no system.
However, we clearly have a bunch of untrained adolescents shifting the gears.
I refer, specifically, to the selection of Texas to face Alabama in the BCS National Title game. Personally, Texas Christian appears to be the team with the superior resume, personnel, and momentum to match up against the Crimson Tide. Team Speed Kills laid out an excellent argument in the waning hours of Saturday on this very point. In all fairness, he creates a picture of a close race between the 'Horns, Frogs, and Cincinnati Bearcats, but one where TCU edges out its competition.
What is healthy about the treatment on that site is the existence of a debate. Where was the debate in the media? Where was that debate among coaches? Or among voters in the Harris Poll? From the time that Texas escaped from a game that everyone not wearing burnt orange must have known they would have lost to TCU, right up until the announcement on Fox tonight, Chris Fowler was the only mainstream media type that I heard even suggest that the coronation should not have begun on Saturday in Dallas. I remember a time when the late-season performances of equal competitors for a spot in the championship game mattered, when one needed both to win and look like a champion, or voters would elevate the team that did so.
Wasn't it Cal's sluggish showing against Southern Miss in its 2004 finale that elevated the Longhorns to the Rose Bowl? And now, those same Longhorns that benefitted in 2004, have clunked in successive weeks against Texas A & M and Nebraska. The old season-ending pseudo-tie-break - the hypothetical head-to-head match-up - must not have been processed through the minds of voters. And the worldwide leader had, clearly, no incentive to place that thought in the heads of crotchety, old BCS die-hards.
I have no interest in scrapping the system. I have come to the agree-to-disagree level of opinion that a playoff will make college football something different than and not equal to the sport that I love today. I am a crotchety old BCS diehard. But, in a way that I did not feel for Utah, Boise, or (wisely, it turns out) Hawaii, I am very sure that Texas Christian has been hosed. Not because they were not chosen, but because they were never even considered.