Why Not Play the BCS Championship Game in June

By Christopher Gabriel, CGabriel.com

BCS Championship LogoAnother college football season has come to an end.  The Florida Gators are your BCS National Champions after defeating the Oklahoma Sooners, 24-14.  Two things stick out about this win.  This is Florida’s third national championship, the second under head coach Urban Meyer in the past three years.  And this ties the latest date a college football national champion has been crowned.  The only other time we had to wait until January 8 was in 2006.  The winner that evening?  Again it was Florida, beating Ohio State 41-14.

In both cases, as well as last year’s January 7 championship game between LSU and Ohio State, the wait for the game was too long.  Next year’s title game is in the Rose Bowl on January 7.  It won’t be long before the game begins moving even further into January.  Why doesn’t college football just do away with the baby steps and become trailblazers by pushing the game into June. 

Crowning a champion six months after the end of the regular season is an idea for our time.  And it’s completely in step with teams being selected for the actual championship game by computers and polls.

The going theory is waiting a bit longer to play The Big Game will build excitement to levels rivaling that of opening presents on Christmas morning.  I have arrived at the opinion a cocktail party in a Bolivian rainforest would be more enjoyable than waiting a full week after New Year’s Day for college football’s grand affair.

The NFL puts us through two weeks of media overkill after the NFC and AFC conference championships before finally sending 22 players onto the field to actually play the Super Bowl.  It used to feel like an eternity waiting for that game.  In reality, the NFL has nothing on college football.

It’s usually on or around the first Saturday in December the major conferences play their championship games.  Once those champions have been determined, the BCS bowl line-up card is filled out. 

And then, we wait.  And wait.  And wait.

Billions of TV dollars ago, the Rose, Cotton, Sugar and Orange Bowls (and later, the Fiesta Bowl) were all on the same day.  The excitement January 1st held for college football fans remains unrivaled to this day.  New Year’s Day, waking up early with a bowl of cereal for the Tournament of Roses Parade, the Cotton Bowl, lunch and then all the others.  It was a day that defined couch potato.   

But in recent years other bowl games have been added faster than reality shows on cable.  There are now 34 of them, to be exact.  Translation:  Money.  There’s a lot of money to be made for everyone concerned and with so many bowls and their respective television considerations, it’s necessitated date and time shifts at the expense of the loyal college football fan’s patience.

Many will argue all of this is just fine.  Who cares when the championship game is played; it’s well worth the wait.  No, it isn’t.  Unless you’re a fan of the teams involved.

If you were a Gators or Sooners fan, waiting for January 8 was a walk in the park.  But for many of us, having gone through Christmas or Hanukkah, the first wave of bowl games, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day bowl games and more bowl games on the days immediately after January 1st, we’re burnt toast.  We’re ready to dial into the NFL playoffs, college basketball, the NBA, the NHL or all of the above. 

Bowl season used to be like “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot.  It would start slowly, build little-by-little, reach a strong point of flourish, ramp up with a bit more excitement, then finally explode into a rousing finish.

Now, it’s like the endless plotline of a mediocre soap opera.

My aggregate viewing time for last night’s BCS championship game broadcast was 37 minutes.   37 minutes.  This was a game featuring two great teams with Broadway-like marquee value, the last two Heisman Trophy winners and two outstanding head coaches.  For that matter, even the bands from both schools are great.  The mere thought of a Florida-Oklahoma match-up gets the adrenaline going for anyone who is a college football lunatic. 

I’m one of those lunatics and 37 minutes was all I could muster.  It’s not that I was periodically boycotting the game or that I had other things to do.  I simply had lost interest in watching wire-to-wire. 

After so many other bowl games, family gatherings, large dinners, more bowl games, getting my daughter pre-screened for kindergarten, visiting potential schools, meetings for work and still more bowl games, I was done.  College football was over for me shortly after Utah took a 21-0 lead over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

Now, if major college football had a playoff that pushed the championship game well into January, I wouldn’t miss a minute of it.  This would be a game worth waiting for no matter the date.  It would become an event rivaling the Super Bowl. 

It might even be better than “Nessun Dorma.”

logo, courtesy bcsfootball.org

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About the Author: Christopher Gabriel is the host of the cleverly named Christopher Gabriel Program on AM 970 WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota. You can hear him weekdays from 9 to Noon. As a writer and humorist, his work has been been published online by the Chicago Sun-Times, Reuters and publications within the Sun-Times News Group.

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