Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On the BCS: A Brief Sick-Day Screed

Amid a Sudafed-induced haze this afternoon, I realized that it's now been fifteen years since the best Penn State team I've ever seen went undefeated and finished second in the national polls. Everything has changed since then, and yet nothing has changed. For decades, college football has served as perhaps the most prominent example of capitalism subsuming rationality; that continues even now. The system is imperfect, and everyone knows the system is imperfect, and now the trendy argument against moving the system closer to perfection is that we can never actually achieve perfection, so why bother trying when we have this wonderful corporate system that makes us all a great deal of money and satisfies the whims of overpaid bowl executives with non-existent duties? I mean, how truthy is that! Such is the stance of the BCS on its much-reviled Twitter feed; that's the only argument they can make that isn't directly based on a falsehood. Essentially, they are relying on the inherent irrationality of Internet culture to take hold. They are relying on the notion that, in the Information Age, information can be manipulated to fit their own ends.

So yes, let's acknowledge one facet of their argument: Things are better than they were fifteen years ago, and if the BCS existed in 1994, maybe the problem might have been solved, at least in that particular case. But a great deal has changed in those fifteen years. And the BCS, given its rigid adherence to the current power structure, is incapable of flexibility; the BCS cannot evolve with the game. The BCS cannot adapt to a structure where teams from non-power conferences are now utterly capable of competing for championships. The BCS, in 2009, is just as irrelevant as the bowl coalition was in 1994, and just as irrelevant as the bowl system was in 1969. We all know the rational and simple solution to this problem; we've always known it. The question is whether rationality even matters anymore.

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