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Good Money Says The BCS Is Here To Stay

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For all the talk about the college bowl system being outdated and unfair, fans still flock to their television sets each winter for the games. Looking at last season's attendance and television ratings, it's easy to understand why college presidents are reluctant to mess with a good thing - at least from their standpoint. Never mind that the system accomplishes nothing, it's a huge success both in the stands and on television.

The simple truth is, when it comes to dollars and cents, the college bowl system is one of the great cash cows in America. Would a playoff be bigger? You'd have to guess so. But looking at this past season's television numbers, you realize the bowls are in a strong bargaining position.

This year's BCS Championship game between Alabama and Texas drew a Nielson television rating of 17.2. By contrast, last year's Game Six World Series where the Yankees claimed the crown, drew a 7.4 rating. Last year's NBA Championship Series between the Lakers and the Magic pulled an 8.4 average rating. Even with the biggest market in America playing for a championship, college football trounced MLB.

In addition to the BCS Championship, there were three other bowls - the Rose (13.2), Fiesta (8.2) and Sugar (8.5) who all drew bigger numbers than the deciding game of the World Series. And those weren't the only ones who drew large numbers. The Orange (6.8), Alamo (5.6), Capital One (6.8) and Chick-fil-A (5.0) all drew television ratings comparable to the championship series in Major League Baseball and the NBA. 

For the record, Auburn's Outback Bowl matchup with Northwestern drew a very respectable 4.1 Nielsen rating and surprisingly had more viewer's than Bobby Bowden's swansong in the Gator Bowl (4.0) which was on the air at the same time on network television.

Of course, nothing will ever top the NFL.  By comparison, the 2010 Super Bowl drew a record 106 million viewers. The 2010 BCS Championship, even with its big numbers, drew only 29 million television watchers. I've always wondered why the BCS hasn't made the championship game a more marquee event. How big would it be to stage a Super Bowl Saturday type event, where the game is on the weekend and it takes on a feel similar to the Super Bowl? It would be huge.

Looking at these numbers, the cold hard reality is that fans are likely stuck with the BCS for years to come.  It will be hard to bring change when everyone is getting absurdly rich. The best any of us can hope for is perhaps a national championship play-in game that follows a week after the BCS games.

At this point, I'll take it.