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BCS goes out with a bang; time will tell if new system has same effect


It’s sort of like missing the TV show “Red Widow.”

You know those handful of episodes were horribly flawed in countless ways, but you always had Radha Mitchell to look at.

The Bowl Championship Series is gone as we abhorred it, 6 feet under years of controversy and a distribution of revenue that was so incredibly inequitable, it made the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae scandals appear like honest accounting errors by a group of drinking buddies.

We always will have our Radha Mitchell moments, though. Vince Young sprinting 8 yards for a touchdown with 19 seconds remaining against Southern California; Michael Dyer making like a pinball and bouncing off Oregon defenders to set up Auburn for a game-winning field goal; the 2001 Miami Hurricanes.

Jameis Winston during that final drive in Pasadena on Monday evening.

The BCS saved its best for last in Florida State needing all sorts of dramatics to overcome Auburn 34-31. It was a marvelous ending to a blemished way of determining who really is best at season’s end.

New will be improved. Or so we hope. That college football at its highest level will introduce a four-team playoff next season is longtime coming and short-term necessary.

Four teams should be eight, but it appears progress at this point will continue to resemble more tortoise than cheetah.

It also seems that the new system’s perceived worth will resemble the feelings most have when talking a state-of-the-art arena being raised in Las Vegas.

Believe it when we see it.

I bashed through words those BCS computers like a toddler does blocks with a rubber hammer. The impersonal nature of a boatload of data selecting two teams deemed worthy enough to meet for the national championship felt as unfair as the number of zeros a bowl payout check had for six major conferences as opposed to all others.

But it’s true that we are trading one imperfect selection process for another: hard drives for humans.

I wouldn’t be so concerned about who will be sitting in that room for a handful of days determining what four teams will be matched in the semifinals if we hadn’t seen many of them before.

One (former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese) actually served as the lead administrator of the BCS in 2003 and 2004.

It’s true we should allow the process to play out before throwing stones at the door from behind which the selection committee will undoubtedly hide, but it’s not unreasonable to believe teams from nonmajor conferences still will face a climb the size of Everest to trump those from the Big Six.

Of those 13 playoff committee members selected to comprise such a historical group, nine have spent the majority of their professional lives (be it in administrative or coaching roles) in major conferences.

It is a gathering of sterling resumes made up of people who have crafted some brilliant careers by making difficult decisions. Condoleezza Rice will be the smartest person in the room, but will the former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser really believe a team from the Mountain West or Mid-American — should resumes be similar — deserve to be chosen over one from the Pac-12 or Big Ten?

Maybe. She and the other 12 committee members deserve an opportunity to prove they will offer the high level of transparency already being pledged by BCS folks.

Here’s where it gets tricky: The committee will be told to use whatever means it believes necessary to select the four most deserving semifinalists. So, much like those who serve to choose which basketball teams will be make the NCAA Tournament each March, what might be considered a significant piece of data to Rice or former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne or former coach Tyrone Willingham could be thought of as unimportant to other committee members.

But while those bubble teams not picked for one of 36 at-large spots in basketball, as the 37th and 38th and 39th bellow with cries of injustice, the spotlight will shine much brighter for those who barely miss out on a tournament involving just four teams.

This much we know: Whoever is unfortunate to be the fifth team and on the outside looking in, its fate will be decided by humans and not an iMac.

Time will reveal whether such a process is better or worse than the one we have disparaged for so long, but this won’t change:

College football, as evidenced Monday evening, still has every chance to amaze us in the most incredible and memorable ways.

The BCS might be 6 feet under today, but that’s never going to stop Radha Mitchell from showing up every now and then.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on “Gridlock,” ESPN 1100 and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.