Like any other sport, college football leaves itself open to scrutiny.
Are the players truly amateur? Maybe not. Are their actions at times amateruish? Indubitably. Do summer conditioning gauntlets warrant reassessment? Somewhere, Rashidi Wheeler and his former Northwestern teammates nod affirmatively.
But no sport is without its demons. The man who naively believes that greed, delinquency and recklessness are foreign to games outside the college gridiron could save us plenty of unwanted agony by employing his unfounded optimism to exorcise the ills we all know exist.
College football takes ignominy a step further, though. It's the only event that consistently squeezes 110,000 bonafide lunatics into an oversized horseshoe, the only game that generates emotion potent enough to splinter families like lighting shooting through a tree trunk, the only sport that defines tradition by iron buckets, latent rocks and branded farm animals. Yet somehow, it always manages to taint its magnificence with a fourth vice: ignorance.
Baseball, for all its shortcomings, knows full well that another canceled World Series spells demotion to minors for a national pastime already clinging to a diminishing foothold in Americana. Spurred on by desperation, baseball shapes its calendar around staging an October classic grand enough to reacquire the country's captivation.
The NFL may not be able to keep its stars out of jail, but if Super Bowl television ratings are an accurate barometer, then it sure knows how to throw a smashing end-of-season bash.
And then there's college football, which, for all its time-honored splendor, couldn't trip over a legitimate means of deciding its national champion if the solution stuck its foot out.
If the Bowl Championship Series was devised in 1999 ostensibly to simplify an overly complex equation for selecting national title participants by ousting the polls, then why does a college football fan feel like he's back in honors trig class when trying to understand the principles at play in BCS bedlam?
Anything is superior - a playoff, a polls-dictated bowl system, drawing straws - anything!
Rather than simply hammering a list of 95 anti-BCS theses (which have been regurgitated numerous times) to chairman Roy Kramer's front door, why not decide upon the response necessary to buck the BCS.
The answer is Armageddon.
Right now two teams - Miami and Nebraska (BYU not included) - remain unscathed. If the Huskers succumbed to Oklahoma in a Big 12 title rematch, and the Hurricanes went dry at Virginia Tech, the BCS would be forced to arbitrarily (through its arcane ratings scheme) select its championship contestants from a pool flooded with as many as 15 clubs boasting but one blemish.
Richard Billingsley, Kenneth Massey, Jeff Sagarin and the rest of the mad scientists behind the BCS can run for their graphing calculators all they want, but you tell me how a sextet of zany mathematicians and a couple of newspaper services (Scripps-Howard and The Seattle Times) can stare 13 coaches in the eye and deny them an invitation to the Rose Bowl party.
If the presence of multiple teams - all capriciously jilted - doesn't raise BCS dissatisfaction to fever pitch, then maybe mutiny will. I'm not suggesting confederate-style defection, in which the disenfranchised establish their own cavalier playoffs. However, if boycotting mid- and upper-level bowls and foregoing mega-million-dollar paydays in protest could exterminate the BCS as we know it, then such an emphatically risky stance is well worth taking.
The passive whining and whimpering of yesteryear did little to eradicate the brainiacs' backward design. To this day, Miami players seethe over their exclusion from the 2000 Orange Bowl for a Florida State team they conquered. But if things don't start a-changin', and fast, Miami might find itself on the wrong side of a royal hose-job yet again.
This time the team won't be alone, though. Misery loves company, and the 'Canes might be crying on 12 other shoulders come New Year's Day.