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Opinion

Rant: BCS needs to wake up and smell the football playoff

By PETE YOUNG
Published June 13, 2004

BCS babble in June - another indicator of the decline of civilization.

The Bowl Championship Series, the system that picks like a vulture at the carcass of sports fans from September to January, got a jump-start on its annual aggravation last week. That fifth bowl you might have heard about actually will be an additional game at one of the four BCS sites, whichever one is hosting the "national championship" that year.

Leave it to the BCS to further muddle the long-since muddled; to compromise the compromised; to confuse the already confused.

Why alter the system?

To obscure what the BCS actually is doing, which is denying what nearly everyone wants, what analysts say would generate even more money, what could be negotiated into the bowl structure, but - and this is the key - would require BCS power brokers to surrender some of that power.

A playoff.

Imagine an eight-team playoff with four quarterfinal games the second Saturday in December. After a little time off for the holidays, two national semifinals on Jan. 1 followed by a true national championship game on the Monday after next, at night, like the NCAA title game.

It would be spectacularly popular, fair and satisfying - except to the few power-conference elite, who won't let it happen.

How sad.

Rave: Like it or not, Tiger's decline is good for the game of golf

Tiger Woods hasn't been good for golf - he has been great. Since his first PGA Tour win in October 1996, through his 2002 U.S. Open triumph, Woods dominated the sport as much as anyone ever and helped it achieve amazing popularity.

Throughout his stretch of brilliance, especially from the 1999 PGA Championship through the 2002 U.S. Open, when he won seven majors, the Woods phenomenon had one flaw: He was too good. No peer could challenge him with any consistency. He was clearly, unquestionably the best, creating a gorge between himself and the rest. The favorite in every tournament, he summarily crushed any would-be rivals. He was Tiger the (golf) Tyrant.

No longer. Woods has been struggling with his swing while the supremely talented trio of Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson have continued to improve. Els has 10 wins in the past 18 months; Singh was the world's best at the end of last season and has three wins this year; Mickelson was imperturbable at the Masters while shaking his can't-win-the-big-one tag and embracing smart, focused golf.

In other words, it could be legitimately argued Woods is the world's No. 4 at the moment, no matter what the rankings say.

The result: Instead of Tiger and the rest, it's Tiger among the best. Such a change of pace gives this week's U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills and the year's remaining majors a refreshing new spin.

[Last modified June 12, 2004, 23:37:23]


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