Sooners prove that the BCS works (for now)

January 08, 2001 9:18 PM
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The system works.

No, I’m not writing about the U.S. Congress. I’m writing about the National Championship Bowl system.

Year after year, the critics have wasted our time complaining about the system and demanding a playoff format. Surely, they thought, this year the system would fall flat on its face. Wrong!

There’s absolutely no question that the best team, Oklahoma, is the national champion. They were the only undefeated team in the nation. And, as if to rub salt in the critics’ wounds, the Sooners threw a defensive shutout at Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles.

No system is perfect. But the bowl system is a well thought-out scheme that’s worked every single season. And it’s kept the bowl games interesting at the same time.

Sure, there may be too many bowls. Sure, some teams that went probably didn’t deserve to go. So what?

Don’t watch all the bowls if you don’t want to. But let the kids go and have some fun. They probably learn more from a trip to a faraway site than they do in some of the classes they’re taking.

These naysayers remind me of those who complain that too many people are elected to the Hall of Fame. Again, so what? What harm does it do to honor someone? We have enough knockers all over the media, don’t we?

But there’s more. The controversy that goes on every year about the bowl system and "Who’s No. 1?" is what keeps the college game in the news. If the colleges had a playoff system like the pros, why would anyone give much of a hoot all season? The pros would totally dominate.

If you had to buy the newspaper space of radio and TV time to promote the college games to the extent that the controversy makes news, you’d have been broke long ago. The controversy is pure publicity. Wonderful. In fact, it’s better than hype.

Sorry, naysayers, the bowl system does work. Computers are as smart as you are. Better luck next year!

Thinking about the bowls, the only mistake I ever heard Marty Glickman make while describing a game came in the Rose Bowl. Marty died last week, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind because this is funny.

Marty was always precise. Well, this particular New Year’s Day, Marty was the TV announcer. The punter was standing on his own 49-yard line. But then, just as Marty was announcing the fact, the punter took a step forward. Marty said, "Standing on his own 50-yard line." I howled. I don’t think Marty even knew what he had said.

One other little glitch that I did tell Marty about comes to mind. The great marathoner Johnny Kelly is a friend of mine. The two were teammates in the Berlin Olympics.

Well, 12 years later Kelly made the team again. Incredibly, he had won the Boston Marathon a second time…ten years after he had won it the first time!

Glickman didn’t know this as he was announcing the sailing of the Olympians over radio station WHN. Kelly is on the boat listening with the other athletes to Marty’s broadcast. His report went something like this:

"Well, I see there’s a John Kelly on the marathon team. I wonder if he’s related to the Johnny Kelly I was with in Berlin 12 years ago." Kelly doubled over laughing. He was one and the same!

I do have Marty’s own favorite to close with: Buster Sheary was the great basketball coach at Holy Cross. Tom Heinsohn, Cousy, Palazzi were his stars at the time.

Before their trip to Madison Square Garden to play Manhattan, sportswriter Milton Gross of the New York Post called Buster in Worcester, Mass.

"Have you seen Manhattan play? Have you scouted them?" asked Gross.

Buster replied, "I haven’t seen them in person, but I’m able to pick up Marty Glickman’s broadcasts from New York. That’s just as good as being there."

Years later when I asked Marty about the story, he said: "That’s the nicest thing ever said about me. Buster Sheary said it and Milton Gross printed it." Amen.

I can still hear Glickman’s broadcast when Holy Cross went on to defeat a great Duquesne team and win the title. Buster and Kelly are still active. Well into their 90s. I’m sure both shed a tear last week.

Onward to victory!