Many Won't Miss College Football's Soon-To-Go Bowl System

College football fans have just one last chance to complain about the Bowl Championship Series after this weekend. Since it was started in 1998, the complicated ranking system has determined which two teams will play for the national championship. The BCS has rankled fans and media alike every single year since then. But the era, if not the angst, is over; the BCS is gone after this season, and will be replaced by a four team playoff. Sportswriter Stefan Fatsis is happy to see it go and gives Robert Siegel a primer of which teams are likely in or out of the BCS Championship Game this year.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. College football fans have one last chance to complain about the Bowl Championship Series after this weekend. Since 1998, the complicated ranking system has determined who gets to play for the national championship. The BCS has successfully angered fans and media alike every single year.

Well, the BCS is gone after this season in favor of a four team playoff and you can count sportswriter Stefan Fatsis as one fan who is happy to see it go. Welcome, Stefan.

STEFAN FATSIS, BYLINE: Hey, Robert.

SIEGEL: And set things up for us. Who is playing for a spot in the championship game?

FATSIS: Well, the top two teams in the rankings of the BCS will play in the title game which is going to be on January 6 in Pasadena, California, and then it's goodbye to the BCS. I'd like to think of the last championship game as the good-riddance bowl. There are three determinative games tomorrow. Number one, an unbeaten Florida State plays Duke for the Atlantic Coast conference championship. Number two, also undefeated, Ohio State plays Michigan State for the Big 10 championship.

And there's a battle of two one-loss teams, number three Auburn and number five Missouri for the Southeastern Conference championship.

SIEGEL: And then, what happens?

FATSIS: Well, if Florida State and Ohio State win, they're almost surely going to meet for the championship. Florida State's got the easiest path. Duke's a great story, a 10-win season, but they're four touchdown underdogs against Florida State. Ohio State plays a top 10 team in Michigan State. They've had their critics. Ohio State has played a weak schedule, but barring something truly crazy happening, like Ohio State winning, I don't know, on a last second safety two to nothing, these two unbeaten teams should make the championship game.

SIEGEL: On the other hand, truly crazy things have been happening in college football, none more so than the finale with one second left in the Auburn-Alabama game. It was a week ago, but it's still worth hearing. This is the call by Rod Bramblett, the Auburn play by play announcer.

ROD BRAMBLETT: Fifty-six yarder. It's got - no, does not have the legs. And Chris Davis takes it in the back of the end zone. He'll run it out to the 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 45. There goes Davis.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Oh, my God.

BRAMBLETT: Davis is going to run it all the back. Auburn's going to win the football game. He ran the missed field goal back. Holy cow. Oh, my God. Auburn wins.

SIEGEL: I think he was excited about that, Stefan.

FATSIS: It's the one time in sports where you'd think that the announcer did not do too much to get too excited. It was worth it. And now Auburn and Missouri are going to say that the winner of their game deserves consideration for the BCS title game because the Southeastern Conference is much tougher than the Big 10, which is true, but it's irrelevant. All they can do is wish that this was next year when there will be this four-team playoff to determine a champion.

SIEGEL: Now, in Tallahassee yesterday, a state attorney announced that Florida State's quarterback, Jameis Winston, will not face sexual assault charges. He was accused of attacking a woman last year.

FATSIS: Yeah, and with that information, the sports world immediately moved on to how it would affect the team's preparation for tomorrow's game and how it would affect Winston's chances of winning the Heisman Trophy, as college football's top player. That's how sports rolls. No doubt the Heisman people did breathe a sigh of relief.

It's not the first time the award has been tangled in character questions. In 2005, the winner Reggie Bush ultimately gave back his trophy because he may have taken from money from an agent. The 2010 winner, Cam Newton, was dogged by allegations that his father had shopped his son around to colleges.

SIEGEL: Stefan, this year there was a lot of talk about the alleged exploitation of college athletes who make lots of money for their schools but don't get paid, also other problems with the system. Has there been any movement on those issues this year?

FATSIS: Well, we had this protest at the beginning of the football season where some players from three schools wrote APU, All Players United, on tape, on their wristbands. The NCAA is dealing with some serious legal challenges and it's not just on whether to pay players or not. You've got a lawsuit over the use of players' names and likenesses in merchandising.

You've got lawsuits over brain injuries. NCAA President Mark Emmert keeps saying that there's going to be a lot of changes coming in the next month regarding the governance of college sports. I'm guessing the NCAA might not define a lot the way its critics might.

SIEGEL: Thank you, Stefan.

FATSIS: Thanks, Robert.

SIEGEL: Stefan Fatsis joins us most Fridays to talk about sports and the business of sports.

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