For every frustration—and it’s a long, infuriating list—there was Texas-USC.
For every misinformed, uninterested Harris Poll voter, there was the 2001 Miami team that looked and played like a Pro Bowl roster, which it basically was. For every ridiculous formula modification, there was little ol’ Boise State beating a traditional football power on a flag football play that will be cemented in your brain for eternity.
The BCS will exit the stage to cheers, but not for what has transpired under its watch.
It will be cheered because it is no more, and its death will ignite collective celebration from the masses. And while the dawn of the College Football Playoff should be anticipated, the BCS should be appreciated as it fades into darkness.
One game. That’s all that remains.
When the clock strikes zero on Florida State-Auburn late Monday night, the Bowl Championship Series will be retired and replaced. The slot machine-sized calculator that did the math for us will be bashed to pieces, while the “BCS” propaganda will make its way from dumpsters to basement walls to garage sales.
The frustrations that have hampered the system for 16 years will be moved to someone else’s pile. So will the memories, though, and this is where the legacy of the BCS gets complicated.
Yes, it was a flawed, imperfect system, but it was our system. And as strange and inconsistent as it was, it predictably delivered. Getting from Point A to Point B typically required a road map, a GPS and a police escort, but we got there.
The national championship games rarely generated much controversy, oftentimes putting the two teams together without a lot of disagreement. As for Auburn in 2004 and a handful of others, your objections have been noted.
As a whole, however, the system worked. Yes, there was the occasional clunker—looking in your direction, Oklahoma-UConn Fiesta Bowl—but it did more good than bad.
The selection process was more about selling tickets and padding the pockets of expensive suit jackets, but it gave us football and unique matchups against teams that would balk at the prospects of playing one another by choice in the regular season.
The BCS bowls didn’t always deliver the excitement that the 2013 lineup provided, but they were often memorable. More significant than the faulty selection process and overwhelming, beat-you-over-the-head sponsor involvement were the moments that will live on.
No moment in the BCS era will be celebrated more than the 2006 Rose Bowl, a game that featured unfathomable star power and hype. This, quite simply, was peak football.
Somehow, the game lived up to the hype, and Vince Young’s waltz into the end zone on fourth down with less than a minute remaining is one of those football moments you’ll thankfully never "un-see."
You’ll also never forget the soothing sound of one Keith Jackson narrating it all, or one of the greatest mascot hugs in the history of sports.
For the 2001 Miami team, the entire season was a work of art: one magnificent beatdown after the next, leading to a 527-117 margin of victory over the course of the year.
It culminated with a 37-14 win over Nebraska in the Rose Bowl, and with names like Portis, Shockey, Winslow, (Andre) Johnson, Vilma and Reed—just to name a few—it should come as no surprise.
This was domination, a different kind of excitement that has been appreciated more as time has passed—like a fine wine with an ungodly restaurant price tag. While the list of dominant BCS squads is no doubt impressive, no team was as dominant as this juggernaut Hurricanes squad.
Boise State, meanwhile, was the opposite of a juggernaut. It was the little guy who squeezed his way into the BCS thanks to a handful of strange requirements that we despised to the very end. Its involvement in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl was laughable.
Then the game started.
There were bigger upsets in the BCS when going off of point spreads alone—heck, there were two significantly larger upsets just last week—but none featured the kind of entertainment that this one did.
Boise State running back Ian Johnson capped it off with his Statue of Liberty score on a two-point conversion—and a proposal to his girlfriend following the game.
It wasn’t just simple plays or seasons either during the BCS era. Dynasties were found and formed in these games, yearly fixtures showing up on the biggest stage imaginable.
Florida, Alabama and USC played in seven national championships combined, winning six of those games. Well, five if you dive into the results book and see the red pen for those USC sanctions. But that can't erase what we saw.
The memories will live on, and perhaps that’s what you can take away most from the BCS. Not the money grab and the imperfections in the selection process, but the moments that transpired because of it. And these moments were plentiful.
Complaining about what the BCS was unable to do is a waste of time at this point, like heckling an old, worn-out refrigerator before you awkwardly lift it to curb. Now is the time for goodbyes and to remember what’s worth remembering.
It’s the end of an era that saw the game grow at an exponential rate over the past decade. The BCS gave us excitement, heartbreak and the entire range of emotions that can be felt in ultimate triumph and defeat.
Thank you, BCS. You won’t hear that enough over the next few days, but you deserve to. Not for all the things you didn’t do, but for everything else.
You gave us Vince Young, Ian Johnson and Keith Jackson. You gave us all these things without asking for a thing in return.
Were you perfect along the way? Of course not. But in some ways the imperfections look less broken already and—like the dynasties you produced—maybe we will appreciate everything you did in time.