armchair cultural observation since 1995

Arizona Cardinals make case for the BCS?

Sport Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel decided to try his hand at a little fiction writing today in a column where he claims the Arizona Cardinals Super Bowl berth makes a great case for the BCS system to stay in place.

Because the sport employs a traditional playoff rather than polls and computers, a Cardinals championship will be deemed far more legitimate than Florida’s BCS title this past college season. Four great playoff games will override four months of mediocrity.

Much the same thing occurred last year when the New England Patriots beat the New York Giants in the regular-season finale to become the first team in history to finish 16-0. In the end, though, all that mattered was the Giants — a 10-6 wild-card team — beating the Patriots in a February rematch.

Mandel goes on to make the ludicrous “every game matters” under a BCS system argument.

One has to wonder if Mr. Mandel is suffering from amnesia. Did all 13 of Utah’s wins matter? Did Texas’s win over Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout matter? Did every bowl game that wasn’t played on Jan. 8 matter?

College football, under the current system, has hundreds of meaningless games a season played by teams like Utah and Boise State that start the season with zero chance at winning a title. The real crime here is that an 0-16 Detroit Lions played in more meaningful games this year than the Utes.

If the Cardinals somehow manage to pull off another miracle and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl, they’ll have won four straight games against playoff-caliber teams to do it. Florida only had to beat two teams that finished in the top 12 of the final regular season BCS standings to earn their title. One of their “meaningful” late season wins was a 70-19 beat-down of The Citadel on Nov. 22.

With all due respect Mr. Mandel, an Arizona Cardinals Super Bowl title would be considered far more legitimate than the Florida Gators computer-generated popularity contest trophy because it would be a far bigger and more exciting feat in a sport where every team starts the season with a chance to go to a non-ceremonial post-season and every playoff team has a shot to win it all.

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