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Final Word on BCS: Enough

It is time for the bowl championship series to take a flying leap into history’s trash heap.

If Notre Dame can fire a coach before his contract is up, why can’t a bunch of boosters buy out the BCS?

Once as amusing as it was mind-boggling, the BCS has overrun its course and crossed the line from controversial to tainted.

It is a bankrupt template, it threatens to cannibalize college football and going forward with it is like going forward with New Coke.

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The BCS was sold to America in 1998 as a way to match No. 1 vs. No. 2 in a sport that did not have a playoff.

Sounded like a reasonable idea at the time.

Before the BCS, top schools were locked into bowl tie-ins and sometimes could not play each other.

Nebraska and Penn State were undefeated in 1994 but could not meet for the national title because Penn State, as a newly minted member of the Big Ten Conference, was bound to play in the Rose Bowl.

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In 1996, undefeated Arizona State was locked into the Rose Bowl.

In 1997, Michigan and Nebraska couldn’t play because Michigan had to play Washington State in the Rose Bowl.

Michigan and Nebraska ended up splitting the national title.

In retrospect, how was that worse than now?

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The Rose Bowl joined the BCS “for the good of college football.” It has been bad for college football and worse for the Rose Bowl.

Many folks in Pasadena yearn for yesteryears, but they say the toothpaste is out of Granddaddy’s tube.

We were told the BCS was formed only to match up the top two teams in a title game, yet this year it is responsible for putting Utah into a BCS game and knocking higher-ranked California out of one.

The BCS has brought out the worst in people. It has encouraged coaches to run up scores and placed voting writers and coaches in uncompromising positions.

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It has raised accusations that coaches manipulated voting -- allegations that cannot be disproved because the coaches won’t reveal their votes.

The BCS has caused the quarterback at Cal this week to call the coach at Texas “classless” for trying to win over voters with a public campaign.

The BCS put Cal Coach Jeff Tedford in a position of having to defend his decision not to run up the score by trying to tack on a late touchdown against Southern Mississippi.

Tedford said he didn’t think winning by 17 points instead of 10 should have made any difference to voters.

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“And if it would have I think that’s a pretty sorry scenario,” he said.

The BCS has widened the financial, perception and “branding” gap between BCS and “non-BCS” teams, which prompted the “have-nots” to threaten legal action.

BCS officials used to muse that controversy was good for the sport.

Controversy may be good, but not the whiff of fraud.

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Never mind that the BCS has rarely worked. It left unanimous No. 2 Miami out of the title game in 2000, unanimous No. 2 Oregon out in 2001.

The BCS in 2002 handed the Orange Bowl a great Rose Bowl -- USC vs. Iowa -- and gave the Rose Bowl Oklahoma vs.Washington State.

What transpired the last two years, though, is grounds for giving the BCS the heave-ho.

Last year, USC finished No. 1 in the coaches’ poll, yet the coaches gave Louisiana State their title trophy.

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This year, Texas edged out Cal for the Rose Bowl -- maybe because four coaches demoted Cal to No. 7 this week and two knocked Cal to No. 8 -- after a 10-point road victory against a bowl team.

As I’ve written before, the BCS has been tinkered with more than Michael Jackson’s nose -- with about the same aesthetic results.

It’s beyond comical. Last year, after the BCS computers overrode a unanimous human verdict that USC was No. 1, officials gave more power to the human polls and that left us with the Texas-Cal mess.

It’s time to stop tweaking the BCS and start over.

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If school presidents so piously and adamantly oppose a playoff, let’s just go back to the old bowl system -- with one additional game afterward.

Put the Pac-10 and Big Ten champions back in the Rose Bowl -- where they belong.

Put the Big 12 champion in the Fiesta Bowl, the Southeastern Conference champion in the Sugar, and the Atlantic Coast Conference winner in the Orange.

Open the other bowls to the free market.

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Take away automatic bids for major conferences.

Let the Big East succeed or fail on its merits.

Let the Fiesta and Sugar bowls fight over undefeated Utah.

Let the Cotton Bowl become important again.

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After the bowls, use the final BCS standings to match No. 1 vs. No. 2.

You could still end up with three unbeaten teams, but you wouldn’t end up with Texas’ mascot, Bevo, tethered outside Lawry’s restaurant.

Cal wouldn’t be in the Rose Bowl either because it would not have won the Pac-10 -- remember when that was the requirement?

What this year’s bowl lineup might look like under the old format:

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Rose: USC vs. Michigan.

Fiesta: Oklahoma vs. Utah.

Sugar: Auburn vs. Texas.

Orange: California vs. Virginia Tech.

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Anyone have a problem with those games?

College presidents who oppose a “plus-one” format need to re-assess their largely baseless and semantic argument that “plus-one” is the first step toward an NFL-style playoff.

Well, guess what -- it doesn’t have to be if you presidents don’t allow it.

The new “double hosting” BCS format in 2006 presumably will prevent any more Cal-Texas fiascos -- two years too late for Cal -- but it still leaves open the possibility of Bowling Green playing in the Rose Bowl.

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You presidents don’t want a playoff?

Fine then, let’s just set our watches to the spring of 1995. Go back to cigar smoke and back-room bowl deals being cut in October.

How can any of that be worse than any of this?

Irish Woes

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The Notre Dame coaching search, where does it go from here?

The list of candidates to replace Tyrone Willingham is shrinking faster than a cotton shirt in a dryer. Those removing themselves from the equation thus far have been Tedford, Urban Meyer, Bobby Petrino, Jim Fassel, Dan Hawkins, Jon Gruden, Steve Mariucci and Kirk Ferentz.

Anyone have Rudy’s number?

Wisconsin Coach Barry Alvarez, a former Notre Dame assistant, would be a fantastic “save-face” hire, but good luck getting him out of Madison. Alvarez is king of that town and also the school’s athletic director.

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Notre Dame has refocused its search on home-grown prospects, Tom Clements and Charlie Weis. Clements, quarterback of Notre Dame’s 1973 national-title team, is the Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator. Weis, a Notre Dame graduate, is offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots.

Clements was Joe Montana’s choice to replace Bob Davie three years ago. The problem with both coordinators is that they won’t become available until after the NFL season. For Weis, that could be as late as February if New England makes another Super Bowl run.

Meanwhile, in Seattle, the Washington job search has shifted gears after two men on the Husky short list, Tedford of Cal and Boise State’s Hawkins, signed new deals at their schools.

Washington is now sounding out Willingham and Boston College Coach Tom O’Brien. If you’re scoring that head-to-head matchup, Boston College defeated Notre Dame all three years Willingham was in South Bend.

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Hurry-up Offense

John Robinson didn’t ride off into the sunset at Nevada Las Vegas -- he drove off in it. Robinson, who retired this year after 27 seasons as a college and professional coach with USC, the Rams and UNLV, was shocked at the end of last Friday’s Rebel football banquet when he was handed the keys to a Mercedes-Benz 500 E.

The car was a gift from several of his former players and presented to him by Hall of Fame tailback Eric Dickerson.

Dickerson once demanded -- and received -- a trade from Robinson when both were with the Rams in 1987, but the early word is Robinson will not demand a trade-in on his new vehicle.

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Side note to the poll controversy: Seven of the 61 voting coaches had resigned, resigned under pressure or been fired from their schools at the time they cast final ballots: Willingham (Notre Dame), Gary Darnell (Western Michigan), Gary Crowton (Brigham Young), David Cutcliffe (Mississippi), Fitz Hill (San Jose State), Lou Holtz (South Carolina) and Ron Turner (Illinois).

Could you blame these guys if they had other things on their minds other than where to rank Cal?

Tedford is a man of his word. Refreshing, isn’t it?

Tedford could have leveraged his 10-1 season into a more lucrative deal had he waited around for Washington or Notre Dame to formally offer him their head coaching jobs.

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Tedford said all along he was staying at Cal, and he is. He could have commanded $2 million at Washington but is staying in Berkeley for less.

“I have no aspirations to be anywhere else,” he said.


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