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Playoffs needed; prioritize championship over money

Monday’s Bowl Championship Series (BCS) national championship game between No. 1 nationally ranked Auburn Tigers and No. 2 Oregon Ducks decided who would be the 2010 NCAA Division I collegiate football champion.

However, unlike NCAA championship matches in other sports – including the Division II and Division III Football championships, made up of the nation’s smaller colleges – this game wasn’t between two teams who had defeated all opponents they faced during the championship tournaments or playoffs.

Instead, the two teams who competed for the coveted national title were handpicked via a complex system of computer-generated rankings and human votes that simply chose who would play in the championship game.

Unfair and unreasonable, the bowl system needs to come to an end.

Opposition to the practice has been strong, especially since the Utah Utes football team went undefeated during the regular season, were denied a chance to play in the championship game and won the Sugar Bowl against Alabama in 2009 – both Florida and Oklahoma, the teams who played in the championship game that year, had one loss.

Recently, the Washington-based Playoff Political Action Committee (PAC) has waged a vicious campaign against the BCS by producing ads attacking the process. They have also contacted the Internal Revenue Service over possible campaign ads made by the tax-exempt organizations behind the Fiesta Bowl and other games – potentially illegal behavior, since non-profits cannot donate to political campaigns-and lavish spending by the same Bowl execs receiving the tax-exempt status. Even if the bowl system is totally free from the illegal behavior behind the accusations, the system is flawed.

The bowl season is a bastion for hyper-commercialism and profiteering, with bowls named “San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia” or “Meineke Car Care,” which featured USF and Clemson this year. Ironically, the NCAA bans even the smallest financial benefits for its often cash-strapped student-athletes who make the sport possible, while selling out the integrity of the Division I post-season.

All the money that’s made from the dozens of bowl games, involving around 70 teams – some with nearly losing records at 6-6 – could certainly not be as profitable as having a playoff system that only features serious championship contenders playing a limited number of games.

Profit should not be the priority and purpose of the amateur sport’s championship.

It should be to find true champions who have proven themselves in their sport, not just in popularity and the influence that comes with being a member of a major BCS conference.

Instituting a playoff system would provide a pure, exciting and fair way to determine a national champion far from the current system based on favoritism and bias.