Why we're never satisfied with the BCS national title game

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.

Top 10 Most Ridiculous Bowl Game Names

There was once a time when contained in the bowl was either the name of the stadium, or some other reference to where the bowl was played or some other significance.

The bowls now are named after whatever company ponies up enough cash. All references to the wheres and whats have long since passed.This is what happens when you need to fill up 35 Bowl Games that now span over 35 days.

Here, we count down the ten worst:

10. Chick-fil-A

There was a time this was called the Peach Bowl. Made sense. It was the bowl game in Georgia. Now it’s Chick-Fil-A. I realize it’s a tasty restaurant, but it’s a downgrade from a bowl name that was fitting and evocative.

9. Bridgepoint Education Holiday

Bridgepoint Education is … what? Online college? Textbook factory? Diploma mill? Teachers Union? Is this game played in a lecture hall?

8. GoDaddy.com

At halftime, Danica Patrick will take off her sweater.

7. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg

An Irish Pub and a Russian City? Do the teams pre-game for pre-game?

6. TicketCity

Nothing says “sports event cash grab” like naming your bowl game after what sounds like a ticket-scalping service.

5. Kraft Fight Hunger

I’ll tell you what … if you want to fight hunger, you’re going to need a bigger bowl.

4. AdvoCare V100 Independence

AdvoCare V100. That’s either the softest-sounding pickup truck ever to roll off the assembly line, or V1-V99 of the name were even worse.

3. uDrove Humanitarian

Being a humanitarian … Soooooooo past tense. Bonus points for reminding me of uPick strawberries.

2. BBVA Compass Bowl

SWF seeking BBVA. Compass Bowl? Really? Played in … heh. Birmingham, Alabama. Gotta do something there, I guess.

1. R+L Carriers New Orleans

I’m sorry, but any bowl game that sounds like a Calculus Proof or a support group for people with dormant STD’s is going to earn the top spot. Hi, my name’s Joe, and I’m an R+L carrier. Please don’t discriminate.

Top 10 College Places to Pre-Game

10. Your Parents’ Crib

All the amenities of home … except you’re actually home. Raid the rents’ liquor cabinet and invite your friends. This slides up at least four more slots if they’re gone for the weekend on a romantic getaway.

9. The Booster Bus

Hey, maybe you’re one of the lucky ducks who get invited to deviously plan the next great funding scam! If not, I hear the booze is top-shelf, and the fans are passionate. Just like at a Kings of Leon concert!

8. The Dorms

If you’re desperate, and quiet, the dorms are tremendous place to chillax and whet your whistle. Just watch out for those pesky RA’s!

7. The Townie Bar

Sometimes, the best place to escape the doldrums of campus is to get off-campus. Drink with the true, seasoned fans, who still clutch their class of 1978 ring since their intense passion for State precludes them from loving a spouse completely.

6. The Frat House

Perhaps you don’t mind waiting 12 minutes for a beer? With the quality of women who frequent these palatial establishments, and the vibrancy and color of the party guests and housemates, how can you not get pumped for an epic tilt against Southwest Lousiana Tech?

5. The Watering Hole

Hitting up college bars is a crucial part of life, whether you’re a hip young social butterfly or a die-hard fan well past the expiration date. The madness often spills out into the street. It makes every Saturday Mardi Gras!

4. The Luxury Box

Too classy for the common folk? Get your drank on aristocratically and camp out in a luxurious, sound-proof suite hours before kickoff. Enjoy watching CNBC and networking with enough upper-crust to land you a VP of Finance job fresh out of school.

3. The Academic Quad

If you’re discrete, there’s always a psuedo-party atmosphere going on right outside the classrooms. Frisbee, flag football, flasks and floozies. Everyone’s a neighbor; no one is a stranger.

2. Your Flop House

Party over at my place! Bring your friends together and order up some cases. Fire up your grill and crank the Lil’ Weezy to 11. Make the last stop on the pilgrimage before the Big House, your house.

1. The Stadium Parking Lot

The food, the beer, the music, the girls, the atmosphere in the shadow of the center of the sports universe for three hours. Really, if you’re doing it anywhere else – you’re just a contrarian.