The BCS National Championship game is the best process short of an actual playoff to determine the D1 national champion. Of course it is not a perfect system (see 2004) but it is so much better than what was used prior to it's founding when the champion was determined by polling sportswriters and coaches.
Before the advent of the BCS, the Associated Press's number one and two teams met in bowl games only eight times in 56 seasons. Comparatively the top two teams have met 13 consecutive times since the founding of the BCS in 1998.
Some believe that the BCS will be the catalyst to get us closer to a playoff. With the BCS format, people have gotten used to a framework that uses the bowls to pit the number one team against the number two team. That point alone has already made the old system of polling sportswriters and coaches obsolete in determining the national champion.
However, the premise for this piece is not to argue the merits of the BCS format. Like it or hate it-it is what it is. My argument is that the big four bowls should be held accountable for the way they conduct themselves on the years they host the game.
Until a bona fide playoff system may be reached in the future, bowls that are hosting the event should be judged on how well they perform in determining whether or not they are allowed to host future championship games.
I have been to a lot of big events i.e. Braves playoff games, bowl games, and national conferences were the U S President was the featured speaker. I have never been to a major event where the sponsors were more unprepared than the BCS National Championship hosted by the Fiesta Bowl.
To begin with, we had a pre paid parking pass for a designated area. We arrived early and the lots were full (they had apparently oversold the passes). We were directed to a lot a considerable distance from the stadium and past parking areas that anyone could drive up to and pay to park. We wound up in an area several blocks away from the stadium in a parking lot of mostly Oregon fans.
We made it to the stadium 2 1/2 hours before the game yet it took us two hours to get in the gates. Thousands stood, pressed body to body and could not move. I really felt sorry for an elderly couple standing close to us. Finally the crowd started chanting "Let Us In - Let Us In - Let Us In" over and over. To which the gate officials started allowing a few in at a time and then for no apparent reason they would stop the flow again and we would stand still for another length of time.
When I finally got to the perimeter gate ( similar to the gates at the fence outside Jordan-Hare) they started patting everyone down like they do random passengers at the airport, except they did it to every person going through. Then I had to step to a table and have my camera bag checked. Then to the ticket person. Now I appreciate security doing their jobs, but the frustration comes from standing for two hours without stadium personnel allowing very many if any people in the gates.
After I made it past the fence, I looked for my friend and he was still standing outside in the body jam and I had to wait awhile longer for him. Now if we had showed up an hour before the game, we would not have made kickoff.
Although the stadium had plenty of concessions stands there were not many rest rooms. Using the crowded rest rooms at Jordan-Hare at half time is nothing compared to using the facilities before kickoff at University of Phoenix stadium. I asked the security ticket checker in my section why the stadium did not have more adequate facilities. She said, "Well sir, your tickets are in the end zone and you should use the rest rooms under the end zone seats."
I went under the end zone and found that the "restrooms" she referred to were actually 18 porta-toliets. Now porta-toliets at a construction site or maybe at a county fair, I could see. But at the BCS National Championship game? I could not believe it. They did not have adequate facilities for one of the biggest sporting events in America.
When the festivities started, the PA announcer was not understandable; and only one scoreboard showed the downs, yards to go, what line the ball was on, and neither scoreboard showed the time outs left.
In addition the grass field was not rooted down and we saw a problem with the guys playing on it - even more than was visible on TV. That situation could not only affect the outcome of the game, it could be dangerous to the players as was evident with Chris Davis' injury on the opening kickoff.
Finally at 73,000 seats, the venue is too small. The seating capacity for this event should be held at a stadium with a capacity of 90,000 plus. Such a move would not only allow more people to get in to the game but would cut back on the unconscionable scalping prices at this year's event.
The new 100,000 seat (Cotton Bowl) Cowboy Stadium would be a great venue for future games. It looked like the Cotton Bowl might be in a position to place a bid two years ago until the BCS switched from FOX to ESPN. As a result, the earliest that new bids can be accepted will be in 2015. When that time arrives the BCS should look at facilities and a bowl's ablity to host a first class event as well as the financial bid of suitors.
Of course we loved being there with so many Auburn fans. It was a great experience and winning the game made it more than worthwhile. But we were surprised by the lack of facilities and preparation by the bowl committee.
It was not their first rodeo. They have NFL games in the fall, annual bowl games, and a national championship game there every four years. It's just mystifying why they were not more prepared.
In four years the game will return to Glendale. Will Glendale be ready this time?