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Draft King Analysis

November 30, 2008
Lou Pickney,

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Welcome to a new time in college football: the era of the F-You touchdown. This trend started last year with the Patriots in the NFL, and there seems to have been a carryover of it to the college game. Florida has made a habit of the FUTD this year (the Miami and Georgia games come to mind), but particularly in the Big XII South it has become popular, if not mandatory, for the elite teams.

This comes not as a result of disrespect for an opponent (at least most of the time), but because of a system where how much you win by can have a direct impact on everything from qualification for a conference title game to playing for the BCS Title (which, as I've written before, is as arbitrary a thing as the WWE Intercontinental Title).

So, when Oklahoma lead Oklahoma State by 13 and had possession of the ball with less than 30 seconds to go last night, did the Sooners take a knee? Hell no. They handed it off to running back Chris Brown, who scampered for a 28 yard FUTD to give Oklahoma a score and, with the extra point, a winning margin of 20.

Do I look down at Oklahoma for this? Not at all. Humans vote in both the media and coaches polls, and so long as that is the case, the element of the margin of victory will be impossible to discard. I heard at least one sports talk pundit attempt to justify Oklahoma going to the Big XII Championship Game because they beat Texas Tech so decisively, whereas the Oklahoma/Texas and Texas/Texas Tech contests were closer. I wish I was making that up.

Did that extra touchdown make the difference in which team between Texas and Oklahoma got to go to the Big XII Championship Game? Most likely it didn't. But it certainly didn't hurt, which is why you saw it happen.

The bigger question: why is there no I-A/FBS playoff system? History has its reasons, but the antiquated system for determining a champion of Division I-A/FBS college football remains in place because of the people who are calling the shots in the BCS conferences. The decision-makers there are holding onto the power and money that they control with an iron fist, spiting common sense and the good of the game to maintain the status quo. Hiding behind tradition and history, those in control are preventing the NCAA, and college football fans in general, from enjoying a battle on the field to determine a true national champion.

The entry on Wikipedia on the BCS Title sums it up quite well: "The major conferences... believe they gain monetarily from the current structure, and are quite unwilling to risk changing the system, even if a playoff system is fairer or leads to better football for the players and the fans." If you think that any of this is about the good of the student-athlete (as opposed to the $tudent-athlete), you're way off base.

To be fair, the BCS is superior to the old system that was in place with its backroom deals and unbreakable bowl tie-ins, which created all sorts of mind-boggling problems (think unbeaten Nebraska and Michigan not having the chance to settle it on the field in the 1997 season). USC vs. Texas from the 2005 season would have never happened under the old system, which would have robbed us all of arguably the best college football game of this decade.

So, for now (and into the forseeable future), the FUTD appears to be here to stay. The Vegas oddsmakers are already well aware of it, I can assure you. The days of whining about "running up the score" and other such nonsense are gone, at least for the most part.

If there is any humor to be taken from this situation, it's in hearing head coaches search for answers to questions about their opinion of the system. There is no logical way of defending it. The phrase I hate more than any other, "It is what it is", was actually used by Texas coach Mack Brown in describing his team's situation. But I can let Brown slide on this one; as Bret Hart would put it, this is a total schmoz. Texas beat Oklahoma, yet they need Missouri to beat Oklahoma to have a chance to play in the BCS Title game. What can a coach say in response to such a bizarre situation?


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