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Volume 3, Issue 1                                    University of Houston

Money could keep the BCS from crowning a true 
national champion

Eye on the Bowls

Tom Carpenter

The Bowl Championship Series hopes to crown college football's national champion. If Oklahoma defeats the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3, the Sooners will be the No. 1 team in the nation and everyone involved in the BCS will breathe a collective sigh of relief.

But if Florida State upsets Oklahoma, Miami defeats Florida in the Sugar Bowl, Oregon State topples the Fighting Irish in the Fiesta Bowl, Washington routs Purdue in the Rose Bowl and Virginia Tech knocks off Clemson in the Gator Bowl, who will be crowned No. 1?

The BCS is not so much a process to discover which is the No. 1 team in the country as it is a format based on greed to keep fat holiday bowl checks flowing to premier conferences.

The holiday season could see four teams -- Washington, Oregon State, Virginia Tech and Miami -- finishing at 11-1. Oklahoma and Florida State could finish at 12-1. Each team, including Oklahoma, could make a compelling argument that it's No. 1.

The BCS needs to be configured like a real NCAA Division I playoff. NCAA Divisions II and III have playoffs to determine their champions.

Delta State clobbered Bloomsburg, 63-34, for the Division II championship Dec. 9, in Florence, Ala.

But a Division I playoff is not going to happen anytime soon because the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange Bowls pay a cool $13 million each, split between the schools and their conferences.

There's no room for 10-1 Texas Christian and Toledo in the BCS picture. The Western Athletic and Mid-Atlantic Conferences, regardless of their champion's record, won't get invited to the jamboree.

The Pacific 10, Big 12, Big Ten, Southeastern, Atlantic Coast and Big East conferences joined forces to keep the premier bowls to themselves. The most promoted (and profitable) independent in the land, Notre Dame, completes the BCS list.

Notre Dame used its muscle as one of the most popular teams in America to get a slice of the BCS pie, regardless of its record.

Do the players and fans of the No. 5 Virginia Tech Hokies feel slighted because Notre Dame, ranked No. 11, leapfrogged them to play in the $13 million Fiesta Bowl? You can bet the athletics department feels the sting of collecting $900,000 in the $1.8 million Gator Bowl instead of $6.5 million in the Fiesta Bowl.

That doesn't mean there aren't some great matchups this holiday season. The Orange Bowl, featuring Florida vs. Miami, will be one of the best games to watch because it pits two state rivals in a knockdown, drag-out fight for bragging rights and a possible national championship for Miami if Florida State beats Oklahoma.

The first bowl game of the season, the Mobile Bowl on Dec. 20, will be an exciting contest for Conference USA fans. The Bowl game in Mobile, Ala., pits Southern Miss against TCU. The Horned Frogs join C-USA next year.

It's unfortunate the historic Cotton Bowl has fallen from its pedestal as one of the premier bowls in America to become a second-tier game. The $2.5 million pay-out can't compete with the high-dollar BCS to attract the highest ranked schools. No. 9 Kansas St. should manhandle the No. 21 ranked Tennessee Volunteers.

The Alamo Bowl pits Nebraska against Northwestern in what should be a great game. The inaugural Bowl on Dec. 27 finds East Carolina playing Texas Tech.

It's going to be a great bowl season, with the national champion being crowned after the Orange Bowl. If Oklahoma loses, you can bet six teams -- each having a legitimate claim -- will cry, "We're No. 1." It should be entertaining.

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