The BCS might not want to admit it publicly, but the rumors and reports swirling around this week’s meetings in Dallas gave every indication that the days of arguing over which college football team is No. 3 might soon be over.
Rumor has it the Bowl Championship Series is leaning hard toward implementing a plus-one when its contract ends before the 2014 season.
That news is like nectar to college football fans hungry to give every elite team a shot at the crystal ball in January.
And that’s because some team always seems to be able to say it’s gotten snubbed.
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The list of snubs is long and distinguished. In 2000, a one-loss Florida State team was picked over another one-loss squad, Miami, that already had beaten the Seminoles, plus a one-loss Washington team that beat the Hurricanes.
The next year, a Nebraska team ranked fourth in both human polls got a shot at the title despite getting blown out by Colorado 62-36 in its final regular-season game, and a one-loss Oregon squad ranked No. 2 by the media and coaches never got a shot.
From there, things kept getting worse. A three-way claim on the title game’s two spots resulted in a split national title for LSU and USC after the 2003 season. An undefeated Auburn team got shut out of the national title game despite rolling through the SEC unblemished, a product of the BCS rolling back its strength-of-schedule component.
To make matters worse, Auburn and Utah finished the season undefeated.
Fast-forward to 2006, when Florida jumped over Michigan and three other one-loss teams to earn the right to beat Ohio State for the BCS title, and 2007, when a two-loss LSU squad emerged from chaos to keep the SEC’s run going.
Throw in 2008, when Utah, arguably the best non-automatic qualifier in the BCS era, finished the season undefeated and dismantled a one-loss Alabama team in the Sugar Bowl but watched a pair of one-loss teams play for the national championship.
TCU and Cincinnati were undefeated in 2009. Oklahoma State tried to claim a piece of the national championship pie last year.
Trying to keep track of all that controversy is ridiculously tiring.
Proponents of a plus-one -- a system that includes semifinal matchups of No. 1 vs. No. 4 and No. 2 vs. No. 3 to advance to the national title game -- have been noting the BCS’s problems for years.
But the BCS has its fair share of defenders.
Making college football a playoff diminishes a regular season more important than any other in American sport, they say. Playing semifinals diminishes the traditional bowl system, the argument goes.
Most importantly, the people that defend the BCS say the argument simply shifts from which team is No. 2 to which team is No. 4.
Granted, there is some truth to the last one. If there’s anything sports fans can do, it’s argue. But the others don’t really hold water.
Expanding the race for the title game to four teams still preserves the sanctity of the regular season. In most seasons, a team can afford to lose only one game to reach the top four. The bowl system already has devalued itself with declining attendance figures.
All an expansion to the plus-one does is increase national interest in games across the country, plus create two more automatic sellouts.
The push to the plus-one isn’t misguided.
It’s just good sense.
Joel A. Erickson, firstname.lastname@example.org