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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, November 30, 2006 - SA

Hate the BCS? It could be worse

SPN.com columnist Gene are on the line each and every
Wojciechowski calls it a game. The opponent doesn't really
"'system' so screwed up that matter: Notre Dame, Ohio State and
it sees a therapist twice a week. It even Ball State can killa season.
ought to be called the Lose once and your
FAC (Flip A Coin)." national title hopes shrink
Yahoo Sports's Dan dramatically. Lose twice
Wetzel says it's a "silly and they disappear.
formula." As a Michigan fan, this
But I say the BCS isn't system has, in one sense,
so bad. destroyed me. The Wol-
You read that right. verines' loss to Oregon in
This is a column defend- ]JAWf 2003 - the team's first
ing the most despised defeat during my time as
system in sports. SINGER a Michigan student - was
That's not to say I one of the worst days of my
think the BCS is perfect. Spitting Fire life. Notre Dame and Ohio
But after almost a decade State brought back those
of trials, errors (yes, lots of them) same nightmares in ensuing years.
and readjustments, the BCS has But like a true addict, I keep
become a reasonably fair system coming back for more. That's
for sorting through 119 teams and because, for a sports fan, there's
crowning college football's Divi- simply no bigger rush than college
sion I-A National Champion. football's regular season. For a
Perhaps more importantly, the team like Michigan, which comes
BCS maintains college football's into every year with national title
most distinctive feature - a regular hopes, the regular season is essen-
season where hundreds of games tially a 12-week playoff.
have national championship impli- I can't say that's good for my
cations. heart. But it's why I'm now a big-
Growing up in New York, I didn't ger fan of college football than the
know the BCS from CVS - college NFL.
football was an afterthought in A playoff system would destroy
my NFL-centric universe. If you that special intensity of the college
asked me then if college football football season. Come playoff time,
should use a playoff system, I prob- the only consequence for a regu-
ably would have said yes. After lar-season loss would be a slightly
all, I loved the one-and-done NFL lower seeding. Big deal. Personally,
playoffs. Why wouldn't the same the knot in my stomach during
system work in college sports? Michigan's key regular-season
But then I ventured out to matchups would be significantly
Michigan and became hopelessly smaller if the Wolverines had an
addicted to college football's regu- opportunity to redeem themselves
lar season. Virtually all the marbles in the playoffs. I don't think that's a

good thing for college football.
Of course, the playoff isn't the
only potential alternative to the
BCS. Some have touted a plus-one
system as the ultimate fix for the
BCS system. Under this proposal,
teams would initially play in their
traditional bowls and then two
squads would be selected for a No.
1 vs. No. 2 national championship
game.
But I'm not sure this solves
anything. It's conceivable that the
BCS bowl winners could all end up
being one-loss teams. What hap-
pens then? What if a team like this
year's Ohio State squad - which
dominated the regular season
- loses a close one in the initial
bowl round? Do they deserve to be
disqualified from national title con-
sideration?
Some purists suggest returning
to college football's roots, scrap-
ping the national championship
game altogether. Bowl bids would
be determined by conferences and
the coaches and media would vote
on a National Champion at the end
of the year.
We tried that. The system pro-
duced three split National Cham-
pionships between 1990-1997. It
created anticlimactic bowl games.
And of course, those games natu-
rally didn't generate the national
interest that the current No. 1 vs.
No. 2 matchups do. Even my old
NFL-watching self managed to find
time to enjoy the BCS title game.
So the alternatives to the BCS
stink. But how, you ask, could I
support a system that basically
screwed Oregon in 2001, Southern

Cal in 2003 and Auburn in 2004?
First of all, plenty of changes
have been made to the system,
namely increasingthe weight of the
human polls in the BCS formula.
A Southern Cal-type situation, in
which a unanimous No.1 team
misses out on the BCS game, is vir-
tually impossible.
Secondly, it's hard to feel too
bad for a one-loss team that misses
out on the title game. This year, for
example, I'm confident that Michi-
gan is the second-best team in the
nation. But the Wolverines left
their opportunity to punch their
ticket to Glendale, Ariz. on the
table. They didn't take advantage of
their chance to run the table - nei-
ther did Southern Cal or Florida
- and so whining about strength of
schedule or quality of losses doesn't
strike a chord with me.
The most frustrating aspect
of any system that picks just two
teams is the possibility that three
deserving teams can run the table.
That disaster scenario struck in
2004, with Auburn being the odd
team out of the BCS.
But to me, that rare and unpleas-
ant possibility doesn't justify taking
away the essential lifeblood of col-
lege football - its regular season.
It may be unpopular, but from
where I stand, I have one simple
message:
Viva la BCS.
- Singer would have discussed
non-BCS teams in his analysis, but he
doesn't really care about any team
that plays on a blue field. He can be
reached at mattsing@umich.edu.

Michigan wide reciever Mario Manningham must wait until Sunday to learn his
team's BCS fate.
BCS commish
backs syste m

By KEVIN WRIGHT
Daily Sports Editor
Michigan fans, Bowl Champion-
ship Series coordinator Mike Slive
feels your pain.
Back in 2004, Slive - who dou-
bles as the Southeastern Confer-
ence's commissioner - watched
Auburn finish the season unde-
feated only to miss out on a nation-
al championship bid.
But for all the pain he felt for
one of his schools, he still believed
in the system some Michigan fans
have begun to question: the BCS.
"The BCS this year has helped
to make a great regular season
of college football," Slive said.
"Attendance is up, ratings are up
and interest is up. Regional games
have become national games of
importance."
After the Wolverines lost to Ohio
State in what many dubbed the
"Game of the Century," Michigan
dropped to third in the BCS rank-
ings when Southern Cal defeated
Notre Dame the following week.
Now,thesquad withjustone loss
to the No. team in the nation has
to hope luck is on its side this com-
ing weekend. If both the Trojans
and Florida lose, Michigan will vir-
tually clinch a bid to the National
Championship and a rematch with
the Buckeyes. If Southern Cal loses
and Florida wins, Michigan has a
chance to stay ahead of Florida in
the BCS standings and go to the
title game.
If Southern Cal ends up facing
Ohio State in the National Cham-
pionship game, the Rose Bowl will
have the first option between two
at-large teams, including Michi-
gan.
Even though some have clam-
ored for a rematch, Slive stressed
the goal of the BCS in establishing
a championship game.
"If the idea is to simply have a
No. 1 vs. No. 2 game, then the BCS
has done that," Slive said. "The
issue that arises that we all have to
look at is whether or not No. 1 vs.
No. 2 is enough."
With the predicament Michigan

faces, many fans have turned their
anger and frustration to the BCS, a
recent trend among teams thought
to be left out of consideration.
All the talk surrounding the
possible BCS title game combina-
tions just proves to Slive that the
BCS is doing its job - generating
interest in college football.
"There wasn't a weekend that
there wasn't an important game
(in November)," Slive said.
The dreaded term "playoff"
floated around the conversation
in a teleconferenceyesterday, but
Slive was hesitant to use the word.
Instead he placed the 12-game
season in the context of a playoff
format. When asked about a play-
off, Slive paused and then said that
every plan has its positives and
negatives.
Even though Slive reaffirmed
his belief for the system already in
place, he said he remains open to
new ideas if they present a better
alternative to the BCS.
He mentioned that the com-
mittee always discusses ways to
improve the BCS when it meets in
April. Specifically, Slive said that
the group will look at expanding
the number of teams from a con-
ference that are eligible for a BCS
game. Right now, the BCS allows
just two teams from each BCS con-
ference.
"I remain very open minded
about looking at an alternative
format," Slive said. "I've said that
from the day I took over as the
BCS coordinator last January....
We've continued to look at some
alternatives, but whatever we do,
whether we keep it the way it is or
whether we modify it, it won't be
perfect."
The final BCS standings will be
determined Sunday between 3 and
4 p.m. Following the gathering of
the polls and computer rankings,
Slive will notify the commission-
ers of the major conferences and
then the bowl committees. The
bowl committees then determine
who will play in the five BCS bowl
games, which, if deliberation takes
longer, could last until 5 p.m.

Weak WOlfpack exposes Cagers

Daniel Bromwich on
Men's Basketball
A basketball game is like a chess match.
An adjustment by coach A causes an adjust-
ment by coach B, and the teams go back and forth
until time runs out.
Little did North Carolina State coach Sidney
Lowe know, but with nearly 15 minutes to play in
the first half Monday night, he had the Wolver-
ines cornered.
When their star player, senior point guard-
Engin Atsar, left the game due to injury, Lowe's
young Wolfpack squad trailed Michigan 12-2.
With his roster now reduced to justfive schol-
arship players, Lowe was forced to go to a 2-3
zone. Knowing he had not a single player he
could confidently turn to on his bench, Lowe
tried to slow the game down and keep his play-
ers out of foul trouble.
Expecting an adjustment by the Wolverines
in an attempt to attack the Wolfpack's lack of
depth?
"Not really, we just tried to stay with our game
plan," senior Brent Petway said. "Our game plan
was as if he was in the game."
Said fellow senior Dion Harris: "We're going
to do the same things we do all the time. Of
course that was their guy who leads their team,
but we just stuck to our same game plan."
Checkmate.
When your opponent has just five available
scholarship players available for 35 minutes of a
40-minute contest, logic follows that if you can
get one of them in foul trouble, you will have
quite an advantage. So you should attack the bas-
ket hard and try to draw fouls.
But Michigan didn't shoota free throw in the
first half.
With the zone making it more difficult for the

Wolverines to get inside, they instead settled for
3-pointers, connecting on just 2-of-9 long-range
attempts in the half.
Expecting a halftime adjustment?
Michigan shot just five free throws in the sec-
ond half, and launched 18 more threes.
Maybe North Carolina State's zone defense
was unsolvable. It's possible that the incredibly
strong defense of the Wolfpack forced the Wol-
verines to settle for low-percentage attempts.
"To tell you the truth, we just started using
the zone this week," North Carolina State sopho-
more Ben McCauley said through the North
Carolina State athletic department. "It was kind
of frustrating ... because our practice squad was
beating us throughout the week."
That's right. The Wolfpack practice squad
was beating the zone all week. There goes that
excuse.
But maybe, despite all the evidence shown,
the Wolverines understood North Carolina
State's lack of depth. Maybe they tried to attack
the basket and push the tempo, and North Caro-
lina State just wouldn't let them.
If so, maybe Michigan is just lazy.
A 2-3 zone, especially one that a practice squad
was beating all week, is far from impenetrable.
But it takes a little work.You have to have dribble
penetration, you have to move the ball quickly,
you have to set off-the-ball screens and move
without the basketball. You have to beat the zone
down the court on fast breaks.
The Wolverines didn't put in any of this work.
They slowly passed the ball around the perime-
ter in an offense that has become far too familiar.
Instead of easy looks around the basket, they set-
tIled for a three from Dion Harris, who attempted
14 of them in the game.
And this laziness on the offensive end equated
to laziness on the defensive end, too.
The Wolverines were beat continuously on

backdoor cuts, leading to easy layups for the
Wolfpack. Michigan even tried a zone, inex-
plicable for a team that prides itself on a tough,
man-to-man defensive identity.
With North Carolina State's veteran leader
and primary ballhandler out, why not pressure
the ball and try to force turnovers? Gavin Grant,
who took over the ball-handling duties from
Atsur, had seven turnovers in the game anyway.
Why not try to force even more?
It would take some hard work.
"My pet peeve about basketball, and I can't
shake it from our team as well, is thatteams and
players play ifthey're scoring," Amaker said after
his team's win over Maryland-Baltimore County
last Saturday.
The Wolverines weren't scoring, and they
weren't playing much defense either.
And even with Michigan's terrible play, it still
had a chance to cut the lead to two near the end
of the game. The Wolfpack started getting tired.
It missed four free throws in the final four min-
utes. It missed shots they had made earlier in the
game. And it committed silly turnovers. But time
ran out on the Wolverines' comeback.
Maybe if the Wolverines had tried alittle hard-
er to push the tempo earlier, the five scholarship
players on North Carolina State's roster, each of
whom played more than 30 minutes, would have
tired sooner. Maybe if Michigan had recognized
the Wolfpack's lack of depth and tried to get play-
ers in foul trouble, there would have been walk-
ons on the court at the end of the game.
The Wolverines didn't lose because the Wolf-
pack were better. They lostbecause they weren't
willing to work harder mentally or physically.
It's easy to stay with the game plan, and it's easy
to sit back and launch threes.
It's tough to attack.
Hopefully, Michigan found out that it's even
tougher to lose.

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