Whelan & Dealin’

Ben Whelan

Its approaching mid-November which means two things in the world of sports: The Bruins have already been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and its prime time for BCS controversies in college football. All of these controversies revolve around the ridiculous BCS rating system which uses a combination of BCS computer rankings, a weekly coaches poll and a weekly Harris poll to determine the rankings. I could go into a diatribe about how ridiculous it is that there isn’t a playoff system in place to determine a national champion and how much I don’t like a computer playing such a large role in determining who will play for the national championship, but I’m sure most of you agree and I am not in the business of preaching to the choir. No, my objection is with the coaches’ portion of the poll which is such a ridiculous concept that I’m shocked it wasn’t replaced along with the AP portion of the BCS system.

In order to maintain the integrity of the poll, it’s vital that all of the coaches being polled give the most educated opinion possible instead of just throwing darts. Logistically there is no way for a Division I football coach to be able to give the poll the attention it deserves for a pretty simple reason: They have better things to do. Coaching at a Division 1 program is an incredibly demanding job eighteen hours a day, seven days a week. Even to have made it to the college coaching ranks means that the coach in question has a fanatical devotion to the team, and the successful coaches often push the limits of sanity during game weeks in order to obsessively check and check again each and every decision about the upcoming game. So when in their frenetic schedule do these coaches have time to adequately research all of the teams that they rank? Are we seriously na’ve enough to think that these coaches put the maximum effort when filling out their picks from the 20th to the 25th picks when they have a game the next Saturday? I think that it is very likely that many of these head coaches delegate their voting responsibilities to members of their staffs who have nothing better to do and then look up from their X-ing and O-ing just long enough to sign the ranking sheet produced by some assistant trainer or equipment manager.

A little too cynical? Ok, lets say that there is some coach out there who cares enough to make time to do the poll justice, sacrificing valuable time that could mean the difference between victory and defeat. Even if they had a week off and decided not to work on a Saturday for the upcoming weeks game and devote all of their time to watching college football, even the best film-nuts and talent evaluators among the ranks of coaches can’t really give you a very accurate account of a team based on one game. Still, even if they could sum up an entire teams worth by watching one broadcast of a game, there are just too many teams and too many games for even the most diligent coach to keep up with all of them.

So in addition to all of the other stupidity and dysfunction within the BCS system, we are now asking coaches to take on a whole other job outside of their job descriptions and one which any reasonable person can see they do not have time to do correctly. This system has had glaring problems for the last decade and it will probably be another decade before the powers-that-be decide to actually buck convention and do something about it. Until then it’s just another typical November, controversy and all.