Gonna let you in on a little secret: I’ve watched three National Championship games since 2000.
Luckily, two were Miami-OSU and USC-Texas. Unforgettable tilts that will go down in sporting lore as two of the greatest games played in any sport.
The other was the Oklahoma-FSU game, which ended 13-2, I believe. A hideous eyesore that left me perplexed and nonplussed.
I’ve seen parts of others, but I often tune late, catch intermittently, or turn off early due to lack of competitiveness or lack of interest.
I’ll watch the Super Bowl to its bitter end, even when the teams have slugged it out to a one-sided drubbing. I’ll watch every game of a World Series sweep. Ditto for the NHL and NBA. I religiously watch college basketball’s championship tussle. Why can’t I get up for the BCS Title game?
The answer’s not an indictment of the BCS, I believe more often than not, they get the two best teams in the country into the game. It still doesn’t feel like the “National Championship.”
If the college football season’s a novel with each week as a chapter, then bowl season is not the final chapter or conclusion, or even an epilogue. It’s an Appendix. The title game is the final in a series of 35 extras posted at the tail-end of the novel that stretches 13 heart-stopping weeks (or chapters).
It doesn’t have the feel of the final chapter because the structure and conditions aren’t the same. Namely, the one condition that matters most: This game is not played on Saturday.
Pro football is played on Sundays. Its playoff games are played on Sundays (though, sometimes Saturdays, to accommodate eight teams). Its Super Bowl is played on Sunday.
Every meaningful college football game is played on Saturday, from Week 1 to Conference Championships. Sometimes on a Thursday or Friday. In bowl season, for TV ratings or marketing purposes, this is to flattened affect switched up, and we get exhibition bowl games played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Holidays and in the afternoon and late at night and by the time we get to the National Championship game, on Monday, January 10, we’ve had enough.
It’s a phenomenon called “State-Dependent Conditioning.” If certain conditions are met, we’re more likely to absorb and entertain ideas and experiences. It’s why they pump fake bakery or BBQ smells in Disney World. It’s why there’s a last-call and a dinner bell. We’re dogs, and on Monday, January 10, Pavlov’s taking a nap, or vacationing in the Lesser Antilles.
So, my proposal to fix college football is simple. It isn’t to overhaul or scrap the BCS at all.
Keep your 35 bowl games and do the following with them:
Play eight on the first Saturday in December. Play seven on the second Saturday in December. Play six on the third. Five on the fourth. You want TV money? Stretch them to Friday Night if you need.
On New Year’s Eve, play four more games (love the Cotton Bowl as a late-afternoon game here), and on New Year’s Day, play the Orange, Sugar, Rose and Fiesta Bowls. We’re used to college football on New Year’s. The first Saturday after the New Year, at 7pm EST, play the BCS Title Game.
It’s simple. It provides us a coherent narrative; a progression. There’s clarity and a build-up and a division and a story arc. We’re given time to digest, preview and process. It’s perfect.
That said, we hope you’ve enjoyed your stay here today. Enjoy the game tonight, we’ll see you back here tomorrow.