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Friday, December 02, 2005

Why I Hate the BCS (But Not the Reason You Think)

Unlike all the pundits (and Wangs) who bitch and moan ad nauseam about the BCS simply because it's not a pro-style playoff, I have entirely different problems with the current bowl system.

First and foremost, as I've stated in the past, I don't like the BCS because, aside from the "championship" game, it relegates all the other major January 1st bowls to meaningless oh-by-the-way status. I used to love waking up on New Year's Day and watching from morning to night -- even sitting through the over-hyped, usually-boring Orange Bowl halftime show -- as I pondered the various scenarios that would crown the national champ. Thus, I would love nothing more than a return to the days of the conference tie-ins to the Big Four bowls with one addition: a "+1" Championship game after the traditional January 1st bowls are played.

But this post isn't about that. It's not even really about football. It's about the fans, specifically students. This is about how the current system makes it much harder for students to travel to watch their school play in a bowl game.

Back when I went to Michigan (during the Paleolithic Era otherwise known the pre-BCS days), money was tight, as it is for most students. But I swore if the Wolverines ever made the Rose Bowl when I was in school, I would go. It was one of those unique college experiences I didn't want to miss. Luckily, when we beat Ohio State to grab the Big 10 title on the Saturday before Thanksgiving of my junior year, we knew Michigan would be heading to Pasadena right then and there. So, with over a month to spare, my friends and I were able to start trying to get air-fare and reserve hotel rooms before the cheaper stuff was all booked up by holiday travelers.

Not so today.

Penn State clinched the Big 10's BCS berth on November 19th but, almost two weeks later, their students still can't book flights and make travel arrangements because nobody knows what bowl they're going to. And by the time they discover their destination Sunday afternoon, you can bet many flights and hotels, due to the time of year, will already be sold-out - at least the lower priced fares and rates will be. Yet I know when I was still in school, and Michigan was heading to the Rose Bowl, I would have probably taken out another student loan and booked a connecting flight through Guam just to be in Pasadena. So with their team playing in its first major bowl in a long time, many Penn State students will bite the bullet and shell out the big bucks, even though students are a college team's fans who can usually least afford to do so.

Even more upset about the BCS should be the sponsors and organizers of the "second tier" bowls such as the one - whichever it is - that Michigan will be playing in sometime between late December and January 2nd. That's because the Who Gives a Shit Bowl (not to be confused with the Motor City Bowl) is more of an impulse buy for Michigan students thinking of attending. Sort of like picking up a copy of the National Enquirer with the "shocking photos of Charlize Theron" in the checkout line at the supermarket. But if I couldn't redeem frequent flier miles and my hotel cost more than dinner at Cottage Inn, something like San Antonio on the 28th would probably be a pass.

Point is, my trip to the Rose Bowl junior year is one of my most cherished college memories. Unfortunately, I believe the current BCS system is probably cheating many students, both Michigan and non-Michigan alike, out of their own similar, once-in-a-lifetime experience. And that's more of a shame than whether this team or that gets to actually play in the game.


Benny Friedman said...

But the BCS doesn't care about the students. They only care about the wealthy alumni and the TV viewers. You think the Fiesta Bowl cares if the late announcement is keeping eight Pennsylvania State students from piling into a $50 a night hotel room and and "splurging" for one dinner at Sizzler? The big bucks come from the alum who can pay full fare on a flight, stay at the Scottsdale Four Seasons and be dining at Morton's every night for a week.

dbuck said...

Good luck in the Remember the Alamo Bowl. Since UM followed the Bucks appearance there, perhaps next year they'll follow the Bucks appearance in the Fiesta. But that means they'd have to beat the Bucks, so I can't wish for that!!!! Anyways, kick the corn out of Nebraska and enjoy San Antonio.