JEFF: Bowled Over
By Jeff Falconio
I love Bowl Week as much as anyone else out there but there's one thing that's always bothered me about the bowl system. Well, one thing other than how the national champion is determined. What's been a bother to me is the amount of time between the end of the regular season and the bowls. I know it's tradition to spend Christmas & New Year's and every day in between taking in a lot of good football. However, after watching last night's Champs Sports Bowl I'm convinced there's no way Michigan State hangs with Boston College if that game is played during the regular season. I don't believe East Carolina would've had a prayer against Boise State and Texas wouldn't have destroyed Arizona State if those games were played in October as opposed to December.
When you give teams three to six weeks between games you take the game out of the hands of the players. Football is a game of matchups and tendencies. Give a coach a month to scout his opponent and he'll come up with all kinds of ways to beat them. How else do you explain Florida's thrashing of Ohio State in last year's BCS title game? Florida was a talented team to be sure but Ohio State was rolling at the end of the season, having dispatched of four ranked teams in the final five weeks of the season. But Florida coach Urban Meyer was given five weeks and he came up with a tremendous game plan that shut down the high-powered Buckeyes.
Teams that are banged up get a chance to heal while teams that are playing with momentum have the wind taken out of their sails. The playing field is leveled when teams have to wait so long between games. A great game plan becomes more important than great players. BCS apologists make the claim that there's no need for a playoff system because the regular season works like a playoff, with teams getting eliminated week after week. The regular season is compelling and that point was backed up after a wild 2007 season. There's all kind of debate as to who is BCS worthy and who should be number one. Let it all shake out in the bowls, right? Unfortunately, the bowls don't accurately gauge who was playing well in the regular season.