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You say you hate BCS, but you don't because you can't

by | CBS Sports

So there you have it -- only 35 more games until college football goes dark, and the latest advertisement why you who hates the BCS and everything it stands for don't and won't get heard.

Seventy constituencies the NCAA actually has to pay attention to have been made happy. Sponsors have been found, and therefore access to their wallets. In Indianapolis, joy is unconfined, for the people there know that you will watch, thereby undermining your entire argument for blowing up the system.

After all your complaining, you'll still watch the Pinstripe Bowl and the NCAA will still win. (AP)  
After all your complaining, you'll still watch the Pinstripe Bowl and the NCAA will still win. (AP)  
We do not defend the BCS here. It is old-time Chicago politics (everyone gets a piece as long as they keep their mouths shut) instead of unfettered capitalism/Darwinism (one true victor and lots of other losers.

You want Darwinism. The NCAA wants Chicago. You lose. Hell, you don't even cover as a big-number underdog. You get routed.

And you'll always lose because you're going to watch a lot of those 30 other bowl games you so blithely dismiss and angrily condemn. And you're still going to watch the national championship, too. You are speaking out against the ravages of drugs with a spike in your arm, which is why your supplier isn't really inclined to listen to your entreaties for change.

There is a cottage industry growing over BCS opposition; books have been produced to advocate bringing it down, treatises offered, opinions expressed in taverns across the land. All well-reasoned, but delivered by people who really ought to know better, for three simple reasons.

 One, the NCAA does not give a damn about you. Never has, never will. It doesn't even try to shut you up, that's how much they don't notice.

 Two, the NCAA is only about the money, and it always has been. It isn't about students or education -- it uses school names the way the NFL uses team names, for marketing and delineation purposes only. It is as laughable to complain to it that it only cares about money as it is to complain to a bear that it just wrecked your campsite.

 Three, you talk it but can’t walk it, because you have a favorite team too, and whether it's North Carolina in the Music City, South Carolina in the Chick Fil-A, East Carolina in the Military, West Virginia in the Champs Sports, Central Florida in the Liberty or Middle Tennessee in the Go-Daddy, you have a rooting interest that will trump your outrage. You will watch. You may even attend. You won't ignore it because your DNA says you can't.

The NCAA does respond to market forces, but those market forces are the following:

 Empty stadiums in important football schools.

 Crummy ratings.

 Unsold sweatshirts at the book store.

 Alumni who don't donate.

Do we have any of those? We do not. Not even close. So what is the incentive for the BCS to extinguish itself? I'll give you only five more years to come up with a reason.

Wait, here it comes. Because it isn't fair. Because it doesn't produce a true champion. Because it isn't about equal and transparent competition.

Well, that and seven bucks gets you a pork chop from your local butcher. The NCAA and the BCS aren't about fair, or true, or equal, or transparent. They're about, and I think we covered this before, the acquisition and growing of money. Mission accomplished.

The added sidelight, that the bowl system that feeds into the BCS makes 70 constituencies happy. Seventy constituencies that, if they ever banded together, could create some political and economic discomfort to the defenders of the system.

And no, you are not a member of the constituency. You're a guy with money burning a hole in his pocket, or a woman who would use a football game to minimize interacting with your family at holiday time, or a kid whose PS3 is broken. You need the games. The games need you.

When will this change? When will the BCS fall? When attendance is 41,000 in Tuscaloosa and Columbus and Norman. When donations drop at Oklahoma State and Oregon and Syracuse. When T-shirts go unsold, when sponsors start throwing their money at MMA and contact curling, when college becomes so expensive that nobody can go and therefore never develops that connection with a team.

Until then, rejoice. You just got another round of what you say you don’t want, but actually want desperately.

You may now return to making fun of Idaho coach Robb Akey for voting his conscience and placing TCU No. 1 ahead of Oregon and Auburn. You know, about something which you claim is evil.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.


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