Editorial by John Ziegler

Kelly Bailing on Bearcats Exposes BCS as a Fraud

12/10/2009

If you watch events carefully in life the truth will always, eventually, come out (just ask Tiger Woods). While most of the discussion about Brian Kelly leaving Cincinnati to take the head coaching job at Notre Dame centered around whether he can finally “wake up the echoes” in South Bend, it seems to me that the most significant element of his hiring is that it has exposed the BCS system, and much of the premise of college football, to be a fraudulent as Tiger’s former image.
 
I say this because it was also announced that Kelly would not be coaching the undefeated Bearcats in what is allegedly the biggest game in the history of the school, the Sugar Bowl against Florida. Now, let’s forget for the moment that Cincinnati itself could be revealed as a fraud in that game and that Notre Dame may not be getting the savior that they hope (they are hiring a guy whose biggest win ever came because an unspectacular Pittsburgh team missed an extra point??). Instead, let’s focus what this decision says about the nature of the BCS system that creates much of the foundation of big-time college football.
 
The entire basis for why we care about most regular season games is that if a team which plays a decent schedule goes the year without more than a loss or two they could go to a “BCS” bowl. We are led to believe that while the National Championship game is the Holy Grail, that making it to, and winning, one of the four “major” bowls is also inherently extremely significant.
 
This principle is also the source why we think the conference championships are important and why teams with a couple of early loses (like Nebraska) keep playing knowing that if they run the table and get to a conference title game that there is still potentially a big reward at the end of the rainbow. Without this belief then only the championship game would be seen as meaningful and by about week six all but a handful of schools would have nothing but their rivalry game to care about.
 
Well, Brian Kelly agreeing to take the ND job and not coach the Sugar Bowl has forever killed any reality behind this misperception which drives the entire BCS system.
 
Think of it this way… Cincinnati has the best year in the history of their school, goes undefeated, wins their conference, finally gets a shot at the really big stage and now their own head coach has just essentially told them, “Sorry guys, remember all that work we did? It really paid off (at least for me). Now here’s your promised land… you’re playing Florida with no head coach! Good luck guys!”
 
How important could a non title game BCS bowl really be if, after a once in a lifetime dream season, a team like Cincinnati is forced to go to the prom without a date?
 
The reality is that the insanity of the BCS system has stripped all of the non-title bowls of all of their real and perceived meaning. That is one of the many reasons why I am one of those who strongly advocates the “Plus One” plan under which the Bearcats would still have a legitimate shot at playing in the title game, presumably with a head coach (changing the rules regarding recruiting to ease the pressure on schools like Notre Dame to hire a coach so fast would also help).  
 
I have long wondered how long it was going to take college football fans to figure out the utter meaninglessness of the “major” bowls under the BCS. It has always seemed to me that since the game is so bound to its great traditions that fans are still reacting purely on the memories of what those bowls used to represent and because they still have the key words in their name (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta) are still pretending nothing has really changed.
 
My guess/hope is that this Brian Kelly fiasco has just shortened the amount of time left for the BCS to be exploiting the legacy of what used to be the greatest tradition in all of sports.   
 
 

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