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CBSSports.com National Columnist

Fair is fair, and the BCS got it right this time


Every now and then the BCS gets it right.

And here's the thing about being fair and fearless and calling the BCS a corrupt outfit that panders to corporate college football while stepping on the necks of all those smaller schools in the boondocks: When that corrupt, pandering, bullying outfit gets it right ... you have to say so. That's also fair. Hell, it's also fearless. Because even if most folks hate the BCS, the BCS got it right this year. Some brave soul should venture forward, sneer at the unruly mob gathered outside, and pat the bully on the back.

Allow me:

Well done, BCS.

Without the BCS, Oregon would be playing the Rose Bowl and a split national title would loom over everything. (AP)  
Without the BCS, Oregon would be playing the Rose Bowl and a split national title would loom over everything. (AP)  
Auburn vs. Oregon for the national championship? That's perfect. Not acceptable -- perfect. Auburn and Oregon are clearly the best two teams in college football. TCU joins them with an unbeaten record, but TCU hasn't played anybody, and a team that doesn't risk anything can't be rewarded with the chance to play for everything.

In a fantasy world where McGriddles grow on trees and conference commissioners do honest work for a living, a playoff would settle this debate between Auburn, Oregon and TCU -- and I'm not here to tell you the BCS beats a playoff. That would be moronic, and I'm not a moron (shaddup). But I am realistic, and I try to be fair, and it's realistic and fair to point out that this maligned BCS system made possible a championship game that the previous system couldn't have.

If the BCS hadn't come along, Oregon would be playing somebody (not Auburn) in the Rose Bowl. And Auburn would be playing somebody (not Oregon) in the Sugar Bowl. Most of us would have watched those bowl games hoping Auburn or Oregon lost. Not because we wouldn't have liked Auburn or Oregon, but because we wouldn't have liked the idea of both teams winning, going 13-0 and splitting the national championship.

An entire season of college football, come and gone, with no definitive national champion? Garbage.

The BCS has prevented that from happening this year, just like it has prevented it from happening most years. In fact, for all the BCS controversies since its creation in 1998 -- Nebraska reaching the national finale after failing to reach the Big 12 title game in 2001; Oklahoma being blown out in the Big 12 title game and still going to the BCS final in 2003; two-loss LSU winning the title in 2007 -- only once have we seen an entire season of college football come and go without a decisive national champion.

And I don't mean 2004, when Auburn was undefeated but finished third in the BCS rankings behind two other unbeatens, Oklahoma and Southern California. After the bowl games, when Auburn squeaked past No. 9 Virginia Tech 16-13 while USC destroyed Oklahoma 55-19, we had a decisive national champion. It was USC, period.

But in 2003 there were a trio of one-loss teams, and USC got left out of the BCS title game, and that season ended with LSU winning the BCS championship while USC was anointed the AP national champion. The BCS didn't just fail a school here or there in 2003 -- the BCS failed everybody.

Otherwise, look, the BCS has worked. Not that it has always been pretty or stress-free. It hasn't exactly increased our enjoyment of the college football season -- in fact, it has detracted from it.

Rather than appreciating the wonders of Boise State or Utah or TCU in this or other recent seasons, we've been left to debate their worthiness. Thanks to the BCS, we've turned the college football season into an arbitration hearing -- like Major League Baseball teams do when they stand before a judge and eviscerate their best young players for the sake of winning a contractual dispute.

That's us, every year. That was me, up there in this very story, telling you that "TCU hasn't played anybody." Nice sentence. Ugh. I'm tempted to delete the thing, but I'll let it stand as proof of this: As fans we love college football, but instead of enjoying the seasons of, say, TCU and Auburn and Oregon, we pick a side and eviscerate the other. It's demeaning to those teams. It's depressing to us. But that's the BCS.

So I get the loathing of the BCS. This bears repeating (truthfully, it cannot be said enough), but I'm not a moron. You don't like the BCS, and I'm not here to change your mind. But every now and then, in the interest of peace of mind, if not outright fairness, try changing your perspective. Don't compare the BCS to the fantasy of a college football playoff. Don't compare the BCS to March Madness. That would be like comparing your spouse to a magazine model -- pointless, self-defeating and unfair.

Want to appreciate your spouse more today than you did yesterday? Compare him or her to the gross slob down the street.

That was the old bowl system -- the gross slob down the street. That's what the college football season went home to every night.

Now we've got the BCS. Most of you hate it, but most of you love Oregon vs. Auburn.

Hate to tell you, but Oregon vs. Auburn is the BCS.

Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.

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