Friday, November 8, 2013

Maybe the Harris Poll Meant more than I Thought it Did

As I was watching my Florida Panthers put out another listless effort, and two bizarre MLS playoff ties, I was trying to keep an eye on what might have been college football's biggest Thursday ever. 2 Top 10 showdowns, both with possible national title implications. Once again, what looked like surefire BCS chaos in its final hurrah should all of Alabama, Oregon, and Florida State finish unbeaten is now quelled thanks to Stanford beating the Ducks... again. But the fact that this game meant so much, when there is still a month left to go in the season with plenty of twists and turns still to come, is what makes the BCS great, despite its thousands of flaws. And for that, I'll sort of miss it.

Maybe it's a little like Stockholm Syndrome in an obtuse way, since the BCS has kidnapped us ever since 1998 by looking at ridiculous formulas and permutations in order to figure out what 2 teams will play for the Crystal Trophy, and now that we're freed from the trap some of us might be in fact missing our captors. There is such pressure on everyone to win and only win when only two tickets are on the line. And that drama has captivated many to turn their eyes to college football. It's not every year that there is major controversy like there was in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004 and others, but that draws us in to the intense pressure of those moments. You never know how a team will respond when a trip to the national championship game is on the line, as Oregon once again proved.

And the best part? The drama is nowhere near over. Alabama has games against LSU and Auburn left, and there's no telling what could happen if they fall. Ohio State and Baylor are waiting in the wings in case one of them slips up. And what if all of them lose, like what happened in 2007? Everything goes out the window. While the college football playoff will certainly provide drama of its own, and certainly better football, sometimes the weight of the computer formulas are stronger than the thoughts of Tyrone Willingham and Condi Rice.

At some point in the future, we'll look back on the BCS and probably laugh at this hilariously perverse method of getting 2 teams into the national championship game. But in that same gulp of air, we'll all probably fondly remember the drama of days past when standings changed daily and when 1 loss could KO a team's chances on the spot. In the new playoff, 1 loss might prove to be fatal, but not likely as much as it would have in the BCS system, and there's going to be a little of that lunacy that I miss.

Roy Kramer is probably off somewhere in retirement cackling as he looks at the madness he's created and the roller-coaster he's put college football on ever since 1998. And for that Mr. Kramer, as your baby slowly goes the way of the dodo bird, I have to say thanks.

For all of the amazing faults and lapses in judgment, and for all of the controversies, it did provide college football with an intense amount of drama and pressure, the likes of which it may never see again.

Maybe the Harris Poll meant more than I thought it did.

(h/t to Chris Low of for writing a similar piece where some of the information in this column came from. Read it here:

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