To help pass the time between now and January 2nd, it's Tako Tuesdays to the rescue! We're off our football season hiatus, and raring to go!
HELP, COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS BEING REPRESSED!
The BCS uproar over Game of the Century II: The Legend of Curly's Gold has caused a call to arms from college football fans, who have claim to be boycotting watching the BCS National Championship game in protest, and want to see the end of the BCS system. First off, they won't boycott. College football fans are junkies, and there's no way they stay away from the last chance at a high for nine months. And secondly, and this is my important point, the BCS as a perfect determiner for the national championship is impossible, and we should stop pretending like it could be. Every year presents a new and unique scenario at the top. And one system will not fit all possibilities. Take this year as an example. What would have worked best in 2011 would be a play-in game between #2 Alabama and #3 Oklahoma State, for the right to take on #1 LSU. A four team playoff includes #4 Stanford, who got spanked by #5 Oregon on their own field. Oregon would be left out. Any scenario involving more than four teams is just ridiculous, and is never going to happen. So just everybody get it out of your heads. This "play-in" system would not have worked in 2010, with a lack of a clear-cut #1 among three undefeated teams. #3 TCU was left out of the 'ship, but nobody raised a fuss because they were a non-AQ team, and Oregon and Auburn were so dominant.
A look back at the rest of the BCS scenarios, and the championship system that would have worked best.
1998: An undefeated Tennessee sits atop a gaggle of one-loss teams, which included Pac-10 representatives UCLA and Arizona. The Bruins, along with Kansas State, lost on the final weekend of the season, allowing ACC champ Florida State to move into the #2 slot and earn the right to play in, and lose, the first ever BCS Championship game. The Seminoles rode a ten-game winning streak into the championship, including a high-profile win over #4 ranked Florida in their season finale. Ohio State is the only team with a real gripe, but they lost a middle-of-the-pack conference team (Michigan State) in November. Sound familiar, Oklahoma State? BTW, Kansas State lost to #6 Texas A&M in the Big XII Championship, fell to #3, and was left out of the BCS altogether, losing in the Alamo Bowl to Purdue. How's that for a buzzkill?
System: 2 team works. tOSU, K-State, UCLA had their shot, and lost.
1999: Two undefeated teams: Florida State who became the first team to start the season #1 and never give it up, and Virginia Tech, led by a guy named Michael Vick. No brainer.
System: 2 team works. Best case scenario for the BCS.
2000: Much like 1998, 2000 featured one undefeated team, this time Oklahoma, and a heap of one-loss teams. Miami beat Florida State; washington beat Miami, as well as #6 Oregon State. Yet the Seminoles were invited to their third straight title game. FSU was again helped by a big season-ending win, 30-7 over #4 Florida.
System: 4 team? Though Oklahoma should get credit for being undefeated. Can't be a play-in game, as at least three teams have a case for those two spots. In any case, washington, Oregon State, and Notre Dame all went to BCS bowls this season. So we should just stop talking about it.
2001: Ducks (and Buffaloes) get hosed, as #4 Nebraska, who had just lost to Colorado in the third-to-last week of the season, got the nod to face undefeated Miami. Oregon and Nebraska were the only one-loss teams.
System: A play-in game between the Ducks and Nebraska, with the winner playing Miami. Colorado lost to Fresno State, as well as getting waxed 41-7 by Texas. They were a clear #4.
2002: Two undefeateds, Miami and Ohio State, who turned in one of the two best BCS title games in history. Wouldn't change a thing about this season
System: 2 teams clearly ahead of the rest.
2003: The Great BCS Clusterfuck, Part 1 Three one-loss teams: Oklahoma, LSU, and USC. On Championship Saturday, Oklahoma lays an egg in the Big XII championship against Kansas State, while LSU soundly defeats Georgia. USC ends the year ranked #1 in both human polls, yet the heavily weighted computers place LSU and Oklahoma in the Natty. LSU wins the crystal football, and USC whoops Michigan in the Rose Bowl and earns the AP's national title. This nightmare leads to heavier BCS weight on the human polls. It still isn't clear whether this is a good thing.
System: LSU and USC play for the title. No team that loses a game by 28 points to a lesser team on the final weekend should play a championship.
2004: Five undefeated teams: USC, Oklahoma, Auburn, Utah, and Boise State. In real life, USC beat the hell out of Oklahoma, while Auburn beat Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. Utah became the first non-AQ team to win a BCS game, leaving the season with three undefeated teams after the bowl season.
System: Play-in game: Auburn vs. Oklahoma, winner plays USC. Trojans get the bye as retribution for 2003. Utah's only good pre-bowl win was over Texas A&M. Boise State's best win was @ UTEP. They just don't get consideration.
2005: Texas vs. USC. Vince Young vs. Leinart and Bush. Easy.
System: BCS got it right on this one. It wasn't hard
2006: Ohio State defeats Michigan in a classic, USC Coug's it against UCLA, and Florida passes Michigan after winning the SEC. After all the controversy surrounding whether Florida should even get a shot, the Gators blew Ohio State away 41-14, and Michigan lost the Rose Bowl to USC.
System: Play-in game: Michigan vs. Florida, winner plays Ohio State. This season is the basis of every argument against LSU-Alabama II, because the non-rematch team that got a shot won and won big. But Florida was really good in 2006, and Ohio State was nowhere near as good as this year's LSU.
2007: The Great BCS Clusterfuck, Part 2 Chaos. Eight different teams were either #1 or #2 in a BCS poll, with LSU going from first to seventh to second in the last three weeks of the year. Ohio State sat back and let Missouri and West Virginia lose on the regular season's final weekend, propelling them to #1. LSU beat the Buckeyes for the title.
System: They shoulda just given it to Oregon before the Arizona game. I don't have a fucking clue how to solve this one, and no one else does either. I mean, Kansas went 11-2 this season. It's the Bermuda triangle of football seasons. Let's never speak of this again.
2008: Six one-loss teams, and an undefeated Utah are the major players here. The SEC Championship served as a de facto play-in game, with #2 Florida defeating #1 Alabama 31-20. The Big XII featured a menage a trois of confusing, as Oklahoma defeated Texas Tech, who defeated Texas, who defeated Oklahoma, all three teams' only losses of the season. The Sooners, by virtue of beating then-#2 TTU and #12 Oklahoma State to end the regular season (by a combined score of 126-62), earned the highest BCS ranking and the Big XII South's spot in the title game, where they crushed Missouri. Oklahoma's strong finish, coupled with Florida's win, put the two teams in the title game, which was won by the Fightin' Tebows. USC also had one loss, but that loss was to Oregon State, and didn't finish strong enough to garner enough attention. Big Ten champ Penn State also finished the regular season with one loss.
System: An eight-team playoff. Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, USC, Utah, Penn State, Texas Tech. #9, and undefeated, Boise State would get left out, though, unsurprisingly, I'm not too concerned about that. I know I said "no more than four teams", but that tournament would be fun as hell. All things considered, I think the two best teams did play for the title.
2009: Five undefeated teams. Alabama played their way in, exacting revenge for 2008 by defeating undefeated Florida in the SEC Championship game. What was left was an undefeated Texas who nearly blew the Big XII Championship game against Nebraska, Big East champ Cincinnati, and non-AQs TCU and Boise State.
System: 2 team system works here. You could make a case for a Cincinnati-Texas play-in game, or some sort of four-way play-in with TCU and Boise State, but let's be honest; the national championship that year was Alabama-Florida in the SEC title game. The Gators proved that by beating Cincy by 27 points in the Sugar Bowl.
Fourteen years of BCS history, and there's no way anyone can definitively say that one system is the best option. In short, the BCS isn't broken. College football is the most difficult sport to crown a champion, for a number of reasons. Going to an ad hoc, year-by-year, figure out how to be fair as it happens, kind of system is really the only way to ensure the most satisfying outcome, and that simply isn't feasible. And so college football will be forever doomed to shepherd a system that leaves deserving teams out, or lets undeserving teams in. And make no mistake, college football is the most exciting regular season in sports because of the current system's small margin for error. Every regular season game counts. If you like exciting playoffs, college basketball and the NHL have some coming up. It just can't happen in college football. It sucks.
In more important and more fixable news...
All 178 employees of the American Licorice Co. factory in Union City, CA, went on strike yesterday to fight for their rights as workers. In case you haven't been following the story, American Licorice Co. is the company that produces the official candy snack of Tako Tuesdays, Red Vines. The workers have not picketed since 1977, and are looking for structured pay raises, a comprehensive health care plan, and employee pension. I think I can speak for my constituency when I say this: Red Vines honchos, give them what they want. These people work their asses off making a fantastic product. They are extremely loyal to the business, with every single worker at the factory possessing 15 or more years of seniority. And I will not stand idly by while the quality of Red Vines deteriorates due to untrained and inexperienced staff. Let's get them back to work, let's keep them healthy and paid, and let's take care of them when it's time to hang up their hairnets.