Looking Ahead To College Bowl Games
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
This will be the final weekend of college football's regular season. Big games will be decided on the field, and then computers will decide who plays for the national championship. We've brought in commentator John Feinstein to try to make sense of this annual ritual. Good morning, John.
Mr. JOHN FEINSTEIN (Sportswriter, Commentator): Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Is there any way that tomorrow's games will produce a match-up between the number one team in the country and the number two team in the country?
Mr. FEINSTEIN: Absolutely not.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. FEINSTEIN: It can't possibly happen because in the Big Twelve, which along with the Southeastern Conference are the two conferences that will decide the national championship, Oklahoma got into tomorrow's championship game against Missouri as a result of the fifth tie-breaker - which was the BCS poll. A computer, in other words, decided that Oklahoma would get to play in this game over Texas and Texas Tech, even though Texas beat Oklahoma during the regular season on a neutral field, and had the same record as Oklahoma. So, the answer to that question, in my long-winded way, is no.
MONTAGNE: OK. But if Oklahoma loses tomorrow, would that mean that Texas gets to play for the national title?
Mr. FEINSTEIN: Very possibly, it could - although it's not a guarantee. Again, USC plays a game tomorrow; Texas does not play a game tomorrow. It's possible the computer might move USC past Texas, and then USC would get to play the winner of Florida-Alabama in the national championship game as opposed to Texas. So, we just don't know and again, the sad thing is much of this will not be decided on the football field.
MONTAGNE: OK. What about the other BCS bowl games? Is it confusion there, too?
Mr. FEINSTEIN: Total confusion, as usual. One team from a non-BCS conference - there are six BCS conferences - will be in one the BCS bowls. That's Utah, they're guaranteed a spot; they're 12 and 0. But Boise State is also undefeated from a non-BCS conference, and I'm willing to bet you a lot of money that on Sunday, they're going to say Ohio State, with a 10 and 2 record out of a BCS conference, gets to go to one of the big bowls over Boise State, even though Ohio State didn't beat a quality opponent all year. That's not computers, that's politics.
MONTAGNE: Now, there are people who would defend BCS, in fact, support it. Is there a quick way for you to explain why the BCS schools refused to adopt a playoff system, why they like this whole system?
Mr. FEINSTEIN: There's a very quick way - money. They don't want to share the money with the rest of Division I - that the non-BCS schools or with the smaller schools in Division II and Division III, and Division 1AA of the NCAA. Ninety-five percent of the BCS money goes to the 66 BCS schools right now. Those presidents don't want to share the wealth, even though they're remarkably short-sighted because not only would a playoff system be fairer to the players, but it would ultimately make them more money because a playoff, even though they'd have to spread the money out, would probably be worth two or three times what the BCS is currently worth.
MONTAGNE: OK. Let's end on a high note, and that's the one game completely unaffected by the Bowl Championship Series. Your favorite game of the year...
Mr. FEINSTEIN: Right.
MONTAGNE: Army-Navy, in Philadelphia?
Mr. FEINSTEIN: Yeah. They're playing in Philadelphia tomorrow, as you said. Navy has won this game six straight years - that had never happened in more than a 100 years of this rivalry until now. They've done a remarkable job to be as competitive as they've been in a time of war, because it's hard to recruit to a military academy during a time of war. And now, Army is copying Navy's offense in an attempt to try to be more competitive. I hope we'll see a close game tomorrow because it's been a few years now, Renee.
MONTAGNE: John Feinstein is author of "A Civil War: Army Versus Navy." And thanks for joining us again today, being the 20th anniversary of your star appearance on Morning Edition.
Mr. FEINSTEIN: I was 12 when I started, Renee. Thanks a lot.
MONTAGNE: Take care, John.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.