What if the BCS Ran the NFL
What life would be like if the NFL was part of the Bowl Championship Series.
One week into January, we're getting ready for two weeks of NFL bowl action. Can't you just feel the excitement as we get ready for six games over the next two weeks?
As usual, there is plenty of controversy surrounding the bowls. Cowboys fans are upset that they have been shut out of the Bud Bowl championship game, but the Cowboys late-season slide allowed the Colts to jump ahead of them in both the coaches poll and the computer rankings. So get ready for our fifth Colts-Patriots title game in the past eight years. Some fans are getting a little tired of that matchup, but CBS is happy, because they can sell the matchup of Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady and Tony Dungy vs. Bill Belichick.
The Colts were the preseason No. 1 based on their Super Bowl win over the Patriots last year, but the Patriots passed them in the polls after beating them on Nov. 4 and never relinquished the top spot on their way to an undefeated regular season.For a while it appeared the Cowboys would snag the second spot in the title game. They were ranked No. 2 after the Colts loss to the Patriots, and they maintained that until losing to the Eagles in early December and a lackluster win over the Panthers a next week. That was just the opening the Colts needed to jump back into the No. 2 spot.
So once again, there is controversy surrounding the Bud Bowl. But as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell points out frequently, that controversy means that people are talking about the NFL. And going to a playoff system would punish the bowl partners, who have been a fixture since the 1920s.
Cynics might point out that without such controversy, college football has no problems getting attention and garners significantly higher ratings and interest for its 16-team playoff system (something that was developed in the 1967). There is no bigger sporting event than December madness, a four-week orgy of football that finishes with the national championship game that is as much a part of New Year's as Dick Clark and a morning hangover.
Cowboys fans anger at missing out on the title game grew even more when they didn't even end up in the Grandaddy of the bowl games: the Viagra Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl traditionally matches a team from the NFC North and the AFC North, and the bowl stuck with the tradition, setting up a Packers-Steelers bowl game that is guaranteed to sell plenty of tickets since both Steelers and Packers fans travel so well. While it might not be the match-up fans were asking for, and the Steelers' late-season slide remove some of the luster from the game, tradition carries more weight than rankings when it comes to the Rose Bowl.
Things kick off on Saturday with the Vikings versus the Cardinals in the Fathead Bowl in San Diego. They're expecting a big crowd in San Diego thanks to the presence of Adrian Peterson, although a matchup of two 8-8 teams isn't exactly a matchup of greats. On Sunday we'll get to watch the Browns (in their first bowl berth in six years) face off against the Redskins in the Heinz 57 Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome, and the Bucs vs. the Chargers in the Outback Bowl at Tampa's home stadium.
Eli Manning will face off against Vince Young on Monday night in the Fiesta Bowl, and the Cowboys will take on the Seahawks (in a rematch of last year's Orange Bowl) in this year's Sugar Bowl on Jan. 12, while the Rose Bowl will wrap up next weekend's action on Jan. 13.
The Cowboys' complaints aren't even the biggest controversy surrounding the bowls. Jaguars fans are livid that they were shut out of the bowl games, even though Jacksonville finished with an 11-5 record and was one of the hottest teams in the league. But when the Titans were selected for the Fiesta Bowl, the Jags chances dropped to zero, because BCS rules prohibit three teams from one division landing bowl bids. The Titans edged the Jaguars for a bowl berth because they have more recognizable players (namely Vince Young), but even more importantly because they have more fans than the Jaguars to buy bowl tickets.
Jaguars fans may complain, but as BCS chairman pointed out, the team's tarps over empty seats at their home stadium make it pretty clear they won't sell 40,000 tickets a thousand miles from Jacksonville.
But all of that is just the warm-up for the Bud Bowl. Colts-Patriots, white hats vs. the black hats. Some fans may be tiring of seeing the same title pairing time and time again, but they've been the best two teams during the regular season year in and year out, so fair is fair.
While the ratings may never equal NCAA football, they are pretty good, and hey tradition and the Rose Bowl parade are important, so stop complaining about wanting to see a playoff system in the NFL.