Saturday, January 03, 2009

Ute Fever

Utah is the national college football champion. It finished its season with a perfect record and thumped Alabama, which was rated number one for many weeks, 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl last night. The Utes turned in a far more thorough thrashing of the Crimson Tide than did Florida, the only other team to beat Alabama.

So Utah is my national champion. And when it comes to national champions of big-time college football, one man's champ is as good as another's. It's democracy in action, or rather, anarchy in action.

On its bought-and-paid-for media partners, college football will crown its national champion next Monday when Florida plays Oklahoma in the BCS National Championship Game. The BCS represents the true expression of collegiate sports' values. It's an insult to the idea of honest competition, a racket run by criminal gangs, a/k/a major athletic conferences, to maintain control of the the most lucrative college sport. It survives because college football fans let their love of a thrilling sport make them very stupid, and because the venality of U.S. higher education knows no limits. If Bernie Madoff had started a liberal-arts college instead of an investment fund, he'd still be out there swindling as a respected university president, and undoubtedly writing op-ed pieces on how a college football playoff would jeopardize his school's educational mission.

The JMG National Championship does not recognize the BCS, except as another of the entertaining exhibition games known as bowls. But neither does the JMG NC discriminate. Somebody wants to call Florida/Oklahoma the national champ, fine. Their guess is as good as mine. Just don't try to tell me that statement ISN'T a guess. USC, Texas, let them be champs, too. The more the merrier, or at least the more the more honest.

It's a simple deal. All sports where human judgment instead of a scoreboard determines winners and losers are crooked. Boxing, figure skating, gymnastics, all of them regularly turn in outrageous bag jobs on a near-daily basis. Human judgment is fallible and subject to self-interest. College football lets COACHES vote to pick winners, or at least the two schools who play for its BCS championship. Hard to find more conflict of interest and potential for skulduggery than that.
Barack Obama, a sane sports fan soon to be in a position of some importance, wants a playoff to replace the BCS. All people not making money off the current system do. Were I
president, I would cut off all federal aid to colleges until they came up with one, but that's one of the many reasons I shouldn't be in any position of authority.

Obama does have a symbolic means of expressing his opinion. He could pick his own national champion, and invite them to the White House for the inane "hand the President the jersey with number one on it" photo-op. Actually, a poster on had an even better idea. Obama should snub the big schools, and invite the Richmond Spiders, winners of the FCS (formerly Division I-AA) national title. Richmond won a playoff for its championship. Honoring them would be a perfect expression of Obama's opinion. Being as pompous and status-conscious as they are greedy, it would cut the big school college presidents to the marrow.

The Utes won't get to go to the White House. But as JMG national champions, any and all of them are welcome to come to my house. If they hurry, we can watch some of the NFL playoffs together.

Just leave the ceremonial jersey back in Salt Lake.


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