A rocket scientist couldn’t decipher the BCS maze of gobbledygook

November 20, 2007 4:12 AM
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Once upon a time, before scientists and statisticians screwed things up beyond comprehension, determining the national collegiate football championship was like picking a beauty queen. Your eyes told you the winner, and the only figures needed were those of the contestants.

Now calculus, trigonometry, and advanced algebra are requisites in the ratings, along with superior computer skills, and resentment sweeps the land. The Bowl Championship Series is a crime against nature.

As of this week, Louisiana State and Kansas are in the top two spots, and if they win their final two games they will meet for the national title.

The team that should play LSU for the title, Ohio State, is ranked fifth in the BCS. The only two major schools that are undefeated, Kansas and Hawaii, should play on the Big Island, or a site to be determined.

Thinking we would figure out the BCS with a little homework, we went to its Internet site, where we discovered immediately that it was part of Rupert Murdoch’s Foxy plans to take over the world.

We found a section called BCS Selection Policies and Procedures. Just what we were looking for.

Thirty-one paragraphs later, after some of the most arcane language in sports, we staggered out of the section, dazed and defeated.

We will not burden you with much of this gobbledygook, but a paragraph or two will give you an idea of what trash talk really is in professional sports.

The sixth graf was strange for an objective computerized analysis. It read, "Notre Dame will have an automatic berth if it is in the top eight of the final BCS standings." Forget the formula, follow the Fighting Irish.

Paragraphs 3 and 4 are beauties. They read, under the heading Automatic Qualification, "The champion of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, or the Western Athletic Conference will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if either: Such team is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS standings, or, Such team is ranked in the top 16 of the BCS standings and its ranking in the final BCS Standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls."

Down in paragraph 7, this clarification: "If any of the 10 slots remain open after application of provisions 1 though 4, and an at-large team from a conference with an annual automatic berth for the champion is ranked No. 3 in the final BCS standings, that team will become an automatic qualifier, provided that no at-large team from the same conference qualifies for the national championship game."

By that time, groggy and groping, we skimmed over the remaining 24 paragraphs and checked the standings for this week. That started well enough, as reading across the wide list we were able to decipher RK for rank; PTS for points; and % for percentage (but not clear about a percentage of what).

Then, without footnotes, we entered a maze.

The next listings were A&H, which could be Away and Home; RB, CM, KM, JS and PW, the latter we presume standing for Prisoner of War.

We realize all this was resolved in some armistice proceedings, but the losers do not readily concede to the terms.

We doubt seriously that Jim Tressel and his arrogant bunch at Ohio State agree that they are only the fifth best team in the country, despite the embarrassment of what Illinois did to them at home in Columbus.

Kansas probably thinks it should be number 1 as the only truly major school that is undefeated, but beating Central Michigan, Southeastern Louisiana, Toledo and Florida International in four early powderpuff games hardly endows you with championship status.

LSU played in the tough SEC, but Kentucky scored 43 points against the Tigers, making their defensive ability against quality suspect.

So how about this? LSU plays Ohio State for the national championship; undefeated Kansas tries to stay that way and get past Missouri — by no means certain — in the best game of this week; and the winner of Friday’s hassle in Honolulu between undefeated Hawaii (10-0 and rated 15th in the BCS) and Boise State (10-1 and rated 19th) gets a luau, a lei, a chance to dance with a hula queen, and a plaque for honorable mention.

Oh, we almost forgot. Ignore paragraph 6 of the BCS Selection Policies and Procedures. Notre Dame is nowhere to be seen.