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Meyer still sees room for BCS system fine-tuning

January 10, 2007|Chris Dufresne

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — Florida capped an imperfect ending to an imperfect season in an imperfect sport by winning the imperfect national championship game at an imperfect stadium, unless you like yours shaped like a barrel cactus.

Any complaints?

"I do believe that the future discussions about fixing an imperfect system will continue to grow," Florida Coach Urban Meyer said Tuesday at his post-victory news conference.

It is ironic that the coach who screamed loudest about the injustices of the system, well, beat it.

Beat it soundly, in fact, by the score of 41-14 over Ohio State on Monday night.

"Sloopy" did not hang on.

Last month, when it appeared Florida might end up in New Orleans instead of Arizona, playing for beignets instead of a national title banner, Meyer spoke of the Bowl Championship Series as if it were a disease without a cure.

But it all worked out in Gator-land and, mostly, for the brilliantly beleaguered BCS.

The voters, of all people, heard Meyer's cry for the truth and pushed Florida past Michigan into the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings.

The computers couldn't figure it out: They had Michigan and Florida tied for second -- wimps.

So it fell to people with eyes and ears and a stink indicator, and they decided by the BCS margin of .9445 to .9344 that Florida instead of Michigan should play Ohio State.

The humans were right.

Two years ago, while sitting in his office at Utah, where he was a couple games into his dream season there, Meyer was asked about the BCS.

He said he knew nothing about it.

He does now.

Meyer was smart enough to take the Florida job over Notre Dame, and he knew how to work the angles this season to protect his team's interest.

Meyer still wants a playoff, but it's OK now if you wait until after the parade.

"I think as the future unfolds, there may be a way to select one versus two because I know there is great controversy involved," Meyer said.

That's at least two octave drops from Meyer's "blow-it-up-now" stance of six weeks ago.

The point is, there is never going to be a playoff in college football -- at least not the one you want -- and nobody is ever going to be completely happy except the national champions.

That's the bane, and beauty, of the sport -- it's not like any other.

It's not clean, organized or iron-clad conclusive, but so what?

Between injustices, this was another rip-roaring season, with jam-packed excitement from August through January.

It's not really a season as it is a tournament, like a four-month World Cup, where the group play (conference) games matter as much as the elimination rounds.

The system under fire gave us Rutgers over Louisville, Boise State over Oklahoma, Hawaii's Colt Brennan throwing 58 touchdown passes, and 32 bowl games -- some of them worth watching.

Not perfect, but not bad.

You had No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Texas play at the start of the season and No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Florida at the end.

You had, Monday night, the Ohio State band playing the theme from the movie "Titanic" during the halftime show of a national title game the Buckeyes were losing, 34-14.

College football is so intoxicated with its compelling dramas, regular-season importance, bowl season and ratings success that it seems willing to take the media hits and make up rules as it goes along.

Last month, when the Florida-Michigan fire was in full rage, it seemed certain the BCS would have to make another pit-stop tweak to the system -- and fast.

But the BCS, in the end, earned another disaster deferment.

Talk of a "plus-one" model, not a playoff but a modified extension of the season, will begin this spring. But Mike Slive, the outgoing BCS coordinator, doubted any new system could be implemented before the Fox TV contract expired in 2010.

"Every single weekend was incredible," Slive said of the season. "It's clear the BCS has enhanced the regular season by making every weekend's game part of the race for the national championship."

Does that sound like a clarion call for change?

The big question now is how to assess the role of the "mid-major" schools in this imperfect society.

Boise State finished 13-0, the only undefeated team out of 119, yet did not get a sniff at the national title.

The Broncos were afforded the opportunity of becoming one of the most compelling sports stories of any season.

The Fiesta Bowl, as Slive described it, was "a wonderful moment and one of the greatest games any of us will ever see."

Boise State finished No. 5 in the final Associated Press poll and No. 6 in the USA Today Coaches' poll.

Is this enough, or no?

Boise State was penalized for playing in a weaker conference, the Western Athletic, and started the season too far back in the polls.

Actually, the non-BCS schools have come light-years from 10 years ago when WAC Commissioner Karl Benson testified in front of Congress that college football was a monopoly.

Progress has been slow but gains have been made.

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