Friday, January 2, 2004
Queer Eye-dea for the BCS
By Ray Ratto Special to ESPN.com
So the Bowl Championship Series performed as expected -- inadequately -- and we are left with the surprisingly agreeable result of a split championship.
But the people who defend the BCS (largely drunkards, rounders, madmen and athletic directors) say the system needs just a little tweak to become the perfect instrument of college football supremacy that ABC is paying for it to be.
Well, they're right, but the tweaking they have in mind doesn't address the right area. The problem isn't in the math, or in the extrapolation of the numbers.
It's in the polls. The BCS uses the wrong ones.
With one exception, that is. The Associated Press poll, voted on by sportswriters, remains the gold standard for in-your-underwear voting, because of three indisputable truths.
Sportswriters are inherently brighter, kinder and just all-around better people.
A sportswriter's poll is not actually filled out by a sports information director.
Enough sportswriters vote in the AP poll to spread the bias relatively evenly.
But the other polls need work. Well, actually, they need large-scale replacing.
And while you all know why the other polls have their flaws, we can name the polls the BCS ought to use to legitimize their inherent illegitimacy.
THE WEEKLY WORLD NEWS TOP 25: It would replace The New York Times poll, which keeps trying to slip Notre Dame past us when it thinks we're not watching. The WWN poll, on the other hand, does not blindly use a computer to make its news, but staff writers who live under porches and look increasingly like Gollum the longer they work there. The advantage is that schools who recruit aliens, 375-pound babies, three-headed nuns and linebackers made entirely of cheese will finally become part of the process, a badly needed act of both inclusion and diversity. Problem: Neptune A&M and Louisiana-Ninth Circle Of Hell are Division 1-AA schools.
THE "QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY" TOP 25: In which the Fab Five -- Sneezy, Blitzen, Jeckle, Nostradamus and Shemp, or whatever the hell they're called -- will vote weekly on the teams with the best uniforms, dreadlocks, cornrows, tats and use of eye-black. Problem: Miami's orange and green color scheme essentially eliminates them in August, while teams willing to dress in mauves and taupes will have inherent advantages.
STEPHEN HAWKING'S MASTER LIST: Look, you want a super-bright bookworm, get the best. The man wrote coherently about time and space, so how hard is it to separate Kansas and Kansas State? Problem: Oxford and MIT could sneak into the poll the way Notre Dame does in the Times' poll.
THE DEGENERATE GAMBLERS TOP 25: Replacing the coaches, who have other things on their minds, the gamblers pay attention every day to every team because, well, because they have to. Problem: Rutgers covered each of the first nine weeks, which would put them in the BCS title game, and America just isn't ready for that yet.
THE SPORTS INFORMATION DIRECTORS TOP 25: Why take away the one bit of fun they have every week? Problem: Some SIDs are just too busy and will delegate their vote to the head coach.
LEE CORSO NAKED, STANDING ON THE ROOF OF A 7-11 AND SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS TOP 25: A devoted follower of the game who knows what he sees. Problem: Convincing him to vote only once a week.
THE "LAW & ORDER: SVU" TOP 25: In which Benson, Stabler, Munch and Tutuola vote each week on the teams who use crime-scene-tape yellow as one of the school colors. Problem: Too many schools to pay attention to at one time.
THE HALFTIME SHOW PARTICIPANTS TOP 25: Just to see if Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson could identify 25 schools. Problem: The days spent waiting for them to get to 25.
THE SOUTHERN LIVING TOP 25: As every available school races toward the Cuba end of the map trying to get into the ACC, natives who know that Saturday isn't just for NASCAR 200-mile prelims will be conscientious and serious voters. Problem: Washington State, Boise State and The Not Really Miami are so screwed.
THE VIEW TOP 25 POLL: Gotta be cute, gotta be buff, gotta have a movie to promote to get the panel interested. Problem: Barbara Walters is likely to vote every week for Oklahoma A&M, even if it is now known as Oklahoma State.
THE NBC POLL: Notre Dame is No. 1 every week as you might figure, so being No. 2 means a lot more than it did even this year. Problem: Notre Dame will also be Nos. 2, 3, 5, 7 and 12.
And finally ...
THE NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION TOP 25: In which professors across the country vote on the teams whose athletes attend class, turn in assignments, achieve good grades, and are all-around swell folks. Problem: What are you, high?
Ray Ratto is a columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle and a regular contributor to ESPN.com