Former Florida State coach Bill Peterson was the kind of guy the BCS would love.
He was easily confused.
"You guys line up alphabetically," Peterson once told his squad, "by height."
"You guys pair off in groups of three," he said another time, "then line up in a circle."
Those instructions made at least as much sense as the national championship game pitting Miami against Nebraska announced Sunday by the guys who run the Bowl Championship Series.
The worst idea in sports had an official snack sponsor for its selection show, deep-pocketed companies only too happy to affix their names to all four of the BCS bowl games and enough apologists planted inside television partner ABC to stage a New Year's Day parade without calling in extras.
But what the BCS still lacks is credibility.
And enough coaches like Peterson.
Because the rest of the fraternity isn't so easily bamboozled.
"I liken the BCS to a bad disease, like cancer," said Oregon coach Mike Bellotti.
He may have lost his perspective, but he has a point.
The Ducks finished second in both the AP media poll and the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll, but all they got for the trouble was the No. 4 place in the BCS rankings and a spot in the Consolation Bowl against a Colorado team that had its own reason to be steamed.
The Buffs finished No. 3 in both polls, won the Big 12 Conference after beating Nebraska by 26 points, and still wound up losing the No. 2 spot in the BCS to the Cornhuskers by five-hundreths of a point.
"It's hard to be gracious at this moment," Colorado coach Gary Barnett said, nearly choking on his pride, "but we will obviously accept and be excited about playing Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl."
After four seasons in control of college football, the BCS has managed to provide exactly one national championship game that nobody can gripe about.
A spate of upsets over the past few weekends denied the guys in charge the tidy resolution they were praying for. And if the geeks who crunch the numbers independently can be believed, the game that actually vaulted Nebraska past Colorado into the championship game was TCU's win Friday night
over Southern Mississippi.
TCU lost the season-opener to Nebraska, but the Horned Frogs' win over the weekend improved the Cornhuskers' strength of schedule just enough to make a difference.
That may not sound like much of a system to decide a national championship, but the crew in loud blazers figure most people are used to it by now. Besides, they own the game. The BCS is the latest reincarnation of what was the Bowl Coalition, and the Bowl Alliance before that. By whatever name, its goal was to match No. 1 and No. 2 at the end of every season.
But its real reason for being is to block the same playoff system that decides every other championship in college sports from being used in Division I football. That way, its television partner, the bowls and the local chambers of commerce propping those bowls up are guaranteed a steady flow of cash and a captive audience.
Whether it's the best system for college football isn't open to debate, since the BCS's current TV contract runs through January 2006. That was something BCS Chairman John Swofford couldn't repeat often enough Sunday.
"Where this leads us, beyond that, is an open book," he said.
The book was supposed to be opened up last year, when a Miami team that should have played Oklahoma for the national championship game got squeezed out by Florida State, a team it beat during the regular season. The outcry prompted the BCS to "tweak" its formula, a formula that almost nobody understands.
After last season, the tweaking involved giving more weight to head-to-head matchups. After this one, Swofford concedes the BCS may instruct its computer operators to give added weight to teams that win conference championships.
"I don't think the credibility of it will be affected," he said. "But the more often you have to change it, the tougher it is for the public to familiarize itself with it and therefore totally accept it."
That kind of logic would have made sense to the Bill Petersons of the world. Asked before a big game once whether he thought it might rain, he scanned the skies for a moment, then replied:
"What do you think I am, a geologist?"
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.