SEEMAN: BCS ruins college football

The first stress fractures in college football’s Bowl Championship Series showed up during the 2007-’08 season.

Missouri and Kansas, schools with as much football tradition as MIT, invaded the top 10, with the Jayhawks winning the Orange Bowl over Virginia Tech.

Then the influx of mid-majors began in 2008. Boise State, TCU and Utah all finished in the top 15 in the final USA Today poll, which constitutes one-third of the final BCS standings.

Last season, it looked like the proverbial stuff was about to hit the fan for the BCS when Boise State and TCU both went undefeated, threatening to face off with BCS regulars like Texas, Florida and Alabama.

Knowing the cash cocoon the automatic qualifying conferences had built around themselves would go up in flames if non-automatic qualifiers from seemingly lesser conferences beat the big boys on the big stage, the Broncos and the Horned Frogs instead played each other in the Fiesta Bowl.

Looking at the polls so far, the cozy BCS system looks more unstable than Brett Favre’s ankle. This could finally be the year the whole institution crumbles and slides into the ocean.

And as a self-proclaimed underdog enthusiast, I’ll be standing on the shore watching the destruction, stars in my eyes and Mardi Gras beads in hand.

BCS anti-darlings like Oregon, Boise State and Michigan State are populating the top five spots in the polls and crashing the decade-long party of football powerhouses like Oklahoma and USC, the Trojans’ bowl ban notwithstanding.

College football has long been plagued by its inability to determine a clear champion. Something had to be done to eliminate the sister-kissing involved with split championships.

Unfortunately, the system put in place to decide college football’s national champion is just as flawed and packed with cronyism as the previous one.

Relying on polls based on the opinions of people with vested interests — coaches and journalists — to help decide what team is better than another is like relying on MC Hammer to manage your finances.

The computer component of the BCS was supposed to regulate that problem, but objective evidence can sometimes be as misleading as a political ad.

What’s even worse for the BCS this year is the weakness of the ACC and Big East. The champions of these conferences are guaranteed spots in BCS bowls, potentially and unjustifiably relegating teams like the Utes to second-tier bowl status.

The easiest way to solve this problem is to institute a playoff system like every other major sports league in the world.

Eight teams playing a single-elimination tournament in neutral warm-weather sites through December would be just as profitable for the leagues and universities as the current system, especially for teams that advance.

There’s two reasons I can think of that something like this doesn’t exist yet: First, the monetary reward of the college football postseason would become merit-based, leaving bad teams that win bad conferences — I’m looking at you, West Virignia and Florida State — out of the party.

Second, supposed powerhouses are scared to death to lose to teams like Boise State, TCU and Brigham Young. They’d lose money. They’d lose recruits. They’d lose prestige and mystique.

And, just like when the Lakers, Cowboys or Yankees fail, the demise of football factories would be sweet. It’s too bad none of this can happen until the BCS goes down in flames.

Fortunately, it looks like that day is getting closer and closer.