College Football’s BCS is Broken

Following the conclusion of the 2023 college football season, there are now 43 college bowl games scheduled to play out. The first game of the post-season was December 16 when Ohio University defeated Georgia Southern in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. The post-season extravaganza will conclude on January 8 with the College Football Playoff National Championship game. And, if 43 bowl games seems like a saturated market, consider that many of these teams are a shadow of what they were during the regular season thanks to the NFL Draft and the transfer portal.

Anyone who has followed BCS college football throughout the year will barely recognize these college football teams playing in the various post-season bowls due to the numerous “opt outs” by many of the better players. Good thing the uniforms haven’t changed because in this bowl line-up, many of these post-season teams come across as imposters of the regular-season teams—something akin to a football version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

With the exception of the two BCS semi-final games of Alabama/Michigan and Washington/Texas, along with the line-up of playoff games at the FCS level, many of these non-important bowl games will be missing several key players that heavily contributed throughout the regular season thanks to them either opting out because they are about to declare themselves as NFL prospects (these players are all starters), or they are transferring to another school for next year via the transfer portal (a combination of starters and non-starters).

Because The Ohio State is only playing in the Cotton Bowl against lowly Missouri, starting quarterback Kyle McCord and Heisman Trophy finalist Marvin Harrison are staying home—McCord transferring via the portal to mighty Syracuse while Harrison is opting out for the NFL draft. You can be sure if the Buckeyes had made the top four and propelled into the official playoffs, those two would still be on the roster. Nevertheless, I was delighted to hear that OSU was held to only one field goal in their demoralizing loss to the Tigers.

Speaking of the Heisman Trophy, this year’s winner, Jayden Daniels of LSU will sit out the ReliaQuest Bowl (to enter the NFL Draft) when the 9-3 Tigers meet 7-4 Wisconsin on January 1. Meanwhile, thirteen players from USC are opting out of their appearance in the Holiday Bowl against Louisville including last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams.

As long as players are opting out for the NFL Draft or to transfer before their teams’ seasons are completed, my question is, what’s the point in having all these other bowl games if the starting line-ups are fractured and the games have no consequence other than just another “W” or “L” for their season record?

I see two possible solutions.

First, given that college football players at this level of collegiate play receive lucrative college scholarship, they should be required to sign a yearly contract that stipulates they will play in every game of the season and post-season barring any kind of injury. If they opt out for any games for whatever reason—including the post-season—they have to pay back their scholarships in full for that year. For those that are hedging their bets on an NFL career, given the money they will likely make in the NFL, that reimbursement of funds for the year will be a drop in the bucket. Those wishing to enter the transfer portal, can’t do so until college football’s last game of the year has concluded (i.e., the BCS title game).

The other possible solution is to simply eliminate the quagmire of insignificant bowl games that are essentially consolation prizes for teams that had a better than average year (never mind there are some .500 teams in this year’s bowl games). Instead of having 43 bowl games where only three have any real meaning (the two semi-finals and the title game), whittle it down to 31 bowl games that are all part of a 32-team playoff where any team could claim the national title.

Until one of these things happen, college football’s BCS will continue to be badly broken. So, bring on the FCS championship game in Frisco, Texas between the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State and the Grizzlies of Montana.

No More Ohio State

GLENDALE, AZ – Fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes cheer after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 44-28 in the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Buckeyes defeated the Fighting Irish 44-28. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

As a naive young child growing up in Ohio (Akron), I wasn’t a big Ohio State fan in those early days. When the Buckeyes took down O.J. Simpson and the mighty USC Trojans in the ’69 Rose Bowl, I didn’t really care. However, a few years later my best friend would evolve into a major fan of the Columbus-based university, attributed to his older brother receiving a scholarship for the OSU Track and Field team. So, eventually, I got sucked in—how could I really resist?

In the years that followed, I found myself in good company discovering many of family and extended family were also OSU fans. So, along for the ride I went.

As a high school student, I never had any inclination or dreams of attending Ohio State. I considered Ohio U (in Athens), but ended up attending Arizona State University. While there, a strange thing happened—a tried out for and won a spot on the ASU football cheerleading squad. In payment for hoisting pretty women over my head and tumbling across the gridiron, I had one of the best “seats” at any game I attended, including the 1980 contest against Ohio State in Columbus.

In payment for hoisting pretty women over my head and tumbling across the gridiron, I had one of the best “seats” at any game I attended, including the 1980 contest against Ohio State in Columbus.

It was odd being down on the field at the “Horseshoe,” cheering for the other team. But, I wasn’t phased by it at all. I secured seats for my family and friends at the game, and never once experienced any kind of traitorous feelings for the scarlet and grey. In fact, being on the “other team,” I saw the Ohio State fans in a new light—and it was hardly flattering. Compared to many other road games I attended, the Ohio State fans were by far the most obnoxious, and some of them downright ugly.

Not long after graduating from ASU, I still kept track of the Buckeyes and as long as they weren’t playing ASU (see 1996 Rose Bowl), I still considered myself a fan—even attending their ill-fated game against USC in the 1985 Rose Bowl.

After tonight’s heart-breaking loss to Clemson (making them 0-4 against the Tigers), I decided I had enough of Ohio State. But, I wanted some facts to back-up my emotions in disowning them. So, here’s what I found regarding their not-so-illustrious post-season record. In 49 post-season bowl games starting with the 1969 Rose Bowl, the Buckeyes have a record of 19-30 (.388); mind you, not all of them being major bowl games. But of those 49 games, 18 were played either in the Rose Bowl (as Big 10 Champs taking on the Pac 10 Champs) or as a National title game. In those 18 games, Ohio State was 8-10 (.444). Hardly an impressive record when it comes to the post-season stage.

A Saturday night in “C-bus” at “The Shoe.”

Tonight I spent $37 on food and drink to watch a typical post-season Ohio State team lose in a fashion that only Ohio State seems to be capable of pulling off. I’ve seen this story play out way too many times in my short life, and with most of it behind me now, I’m walking away from Ohio State. I’ll never go out of my way to watch them play again as I did tonight—especially if it is a major post-season bowl game against a Southern university.

There is some victory/salvation in all of this. Given my “fan” status over the years, I really have no Ohio State swag that I need to unload (or burn as in the case of the jilted fan).

It’s true that during the regular season, it takes any visiting team a monumental effort to defeat the Buckeyes in C-bus, but in the big games come the post-season, at best they are predictably mediocre.

Postscript: When will one of the strong Southern Universities like Alabama, Clemson, Florida, LSU, Auburn ever venture north of the Mason-Dixon for a November or December contest with the likes of a respectable Minnesota or Iowa team? That never happens. As my brother put it, “They never will as there is nothing to gain and everything to lose.”