NCAA Keeps Its Myth Afloat in College Football

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), August 14, 1998 | Go to article overview

NCAA Keeps Its Myth Afloat in College Football


Byline: Mark Alesia

Hello again, college football, and that doesn't mean the teams from Platteville, Wis., one of which plays an exhibition game tonight.

With the Bowl Championship Series starting this season, the schools in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 4 - the anticipated national championship game - will be determined in large part by computer rankings.

Contrary to previous reports, it will not be called the Windows 98/U.S. Department of Justice Bowl.

It's just another example of a never-ending source of amusement - watching the NCAA try to keep its essential myth afloat. That, of course, is that a multi-million dollar sports business can exist in higher education.

It's an alluring myth, with the rivalries, the traditions, the tailgate parties, the great games. A year ago, No. 2 NFL draft choice Ryan Leaf played for the greater glory of Pullman, Wash., home of Washington State University. The Ann Arbor Wolverines were No. 1 in the nation, at least in one poll. What's cooler than that?

Now we have a complicated system for getting the best college football teams in the nation to settle the issue of No. 1 on the field.

ABC and the fans, the revenue sources, are happy. But we can't just have a playoff. Oh, no. The university presidents won't go for that, as if they're not already up to their caps and tassels in hypocrisy on the issue of sports. It would cost class time. It would force the young men to play a few extra grueling games.

So this is what we have - more contortions to keep up the myth.

Seven factors will go into determining the bowl participants. First there's the venerable Associated Press poll, voted on by media members not content to find stories and present them well, but eager to become "players" themselves.

Then there's the "coaches" poll, long known as a fraud because the coaches often delegate the responsibility for voting. …

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