By Doug Russell Special to Published Feb 23, 2012 at 11:00 AM

After 15 years of arguments, controversies, and injustices, the Lords of college football are finally talking about getting it right.

Now, of course, nothing is done just yet, but the wheels are in motion for a solution that has been so mind-bogglingly simple, and yet seemingly beyond the grasp of supposedly intelligent men.

Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, the commissioners of the Bowl Championship Series met at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dallas to finally discuss a way to quell the masses calling for heads to roll with the way they have embarrassingly mismanaged how college football's national champion is crowned.

I have always believed that those who wear neckties are not able to think clearly because the blood must not be able to get up to their brains. After all, these are administrators with Ph.D.'s and they couldn't figure out what the rest of us had been able to see from Day 1. All the while, those same commissioners had flat-out lied to the public, been condescending to anyone who dared question them, and then laughed all the way to the bank.

This week, after mounting pressure from, well, everyone, the commissioners had three stated goals:

  1. Improve the game of college football
  2. Enhance the experience for the student-athlete
  3. Make it acceptable to the public

Let's begin from the back and move our way to the front. How can the BCS become acceptable to the public?

For one, close the loopholes that have always existed within the system. This past year, Alabama had no business playing LSU in the National Championship Game if you believe what has been crammed down our throats for the last 15 years; that college football's regular season means everything. It is irrespective of the fact that Alabama won the game; they had no business being there in the first place.

After all, Alabama already lost to LSU on their home field, while throwing a goal-line interception and missing four field goals along the way. That the Crimson Tide didn't even win their own division (much less conference) should have precluded them from being the No. 2 team in the country.

Remember, in the era we are in of conference championship games, LSU had to expose themselves one more time for the outright conference championship, while Alabama did not. As LSU was clobbering Georgia, the Crimson Tide were home sitting on their couches eating Doritos.

Likewise, Michigan State earned the right to be the second team from the Big Ten to represent the conference in the BCS this season, should there have been two that would be selected. In the inaugural Big Ten championship, Wisconsin narrowly escaped against the Spartans 42-39 on Dec. 3.

Obviously, with the win, the Badgers won the right to go to the Rose Bowl. But because Michigan State exposed themselves with the extra game and lost, they were bypassed by Michigan when an at-large berth to the Sugar Bowl was available.

The Wolverines, like the Crimson Tide, got to lay low and stay home while the champions of their division had the added burden on one extra game. Michigan State was the superior team and they got to go to the Outback Bowl for their efforts, despite even their two-touchdown win over Michigan in their head-to-head meeting.

But this year was hardly the first time undeserving teams were given berths in what are supposed to be the most prestigious games of the year. But because the system rewards only numbers and not eyeballs and common sense, we've been scratching our heads since the day the first BCS pairings were announced.

After all, how else does one explain away No. 3 Kansas State being relegated to the Alamo Bowl in 1998 or No. 4 Nebraska playing for the national championship in 2001?

There have been other anomalies as well; a split national championship in 2003, when LSU won the BCS title and USC won the AP championship. Then there was undefeated Auburn not even having a shot at the title in 2004. In 2006, 0.0101 computer points gave Florida a chance at the championship and left Michigan out.

So making almost anything else other than this would make any new plan acceptable to the public.

The second stated goal of the meeting was to enhance the experience for the student athlete.

Players aren't stupid. They know when they are being scammed. When the powers that be talk about preserving the integrity of the bowls and the experience the kids have at them, nothing is diminished for the vast majority of players that go to games such as the Alamo Bowl, the Capitol One Bowl, the Holliday Bowl, or any other bowl. These players know they didn't win a championship. They know they are at a lesser-tier bowl game. There is no need to pass out blue participation ribbons to everyone.

But that seems to actually be an argument that has been thrown out there. That "kids want the satisfaction of winning their bowl game."

I'm not sure who they think they are fooling. When a kid goes to a lesser bowl game, they still get an extra month of work with their coaches; they still get to go to a halfway decent location (except for Detroit or Boise ... I mean ... come on.), and they still get their truckloads of NCAA approved swag doled out by game sponsors. But to actually have someone believe that a kid that just played a key part in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl is going to equate that with the same kid who just won the Rose Bowl is downright insulting to our collective intelligence.

To enhance the experience for the student-athlete, eliminate the controversies. The Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) is the only major sport that holds no playoffs whatsoever.

And while you may say that dilutes the regular season, in small quantities, it really doesn't. But then again, so what if it did?

Were we all not enraptured by U-Conn's sweep of their last 11 games in 2011 en route to the National Championship? Or did we all not root for David vs. Goliath the last two seasons in tiny Butler University getting to the national title game just to lose to Hall of Fame coaches at elite level programs?

This leads to how to improve college football. And in an irony of ironies, the best way to improve college football is not to destroy the BCS.

Don't toss it; tweak it.

At least this time around, commissioners are not discussing adding any more than four teams to any possible playoff.

Fair enough. Actually, that's a perfect number.

Take the winners of the four BCS games and pair them off in a pair of national semi-final games; a Final Four if you will.

The venues could be anywhere; home stadiums to the higher seed; a neutral site; a doubleheader weekend in Hawaii – whatever. Doesn't matter. That is something they can figure out later.

But you take the winners of the Fiesta, Sugar, Rose, and Orange Bowls and rotate what game winners play the other BCS game winners. This year, hypothetically, you could have had Oregon (Rose Bowl winner), LSU (who could have been in the Sugar Bowl and not Michigan), Alabama (hypothetical winner of the Orange Bowl) and Oklahoma State (winner of the Fiesta Bowl) square off. Hypothetically Oregon clobbers LSU at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge and Oklahoma State knocks off Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, then your matchup is set for the title game: Oregon vs. Oklahoma State.

That would have been one whale of a game to see unfold.

Look, no one is saying that Alabama wasn't the best team in the country this year. But because of the system we have, they never should have been there to be able to win the game and the Coach's Trophy in the first place.

Under this new plan, they have the same chance as equally deserving teams. If Alabama was still the best team in college football last year, they should be able to prove it on the field just as it is done in every single other sport.

Then again, I have maintained all along that I think Oklahoma State was the better team. While we will never know who could have won a game between them, hopefully in the years ahead I won't be a hypothetical.

This is logic. This has also been a pointless exercise because really all anyone (i.e. the television networks) needed to do was dangle a few million in front of the decision makers and it would be done. Imagining how much extra revenue could be generated in a legitimate playoff is mind-boggling. Some experts in television negotiations are even saying the extra revenue and an undisputed national champion could double what the BCS is worth.

For university presidents, that should be all the convincing argument that needs to be made.

Doug Russell Special to

Doug Russell has been covering Milwaukee and Wisconsin sports for over 20 years on radio, television, magazines, and now at

Over the course of his career, the Edward R. Murrow Award winner and Emmy nominee has covered the Packers in Super Bowls XXXI, XXXII and XLV, traveled to Pasadena with the Badgers for Rose Bowls, been to the Final Four with Marquette, and saw first-hand the entire Brewers playoff runs in 2008 and 2011. Doug has also covered The Masters, several PGA Championships, MLB All-Star Games, and Kentucky Derbys; the Davis Cup, the U.S. Open, and the Sugar Bowl, along with NCAA football and basketball conference championships, and for that matter just about anything else that involves a field (or court, or rink) of play.

Doug was a sports reporter and host at WTMJ-AM radio from 1996-2000, before taking his radio skills to national syndication at Sporting News Radio from 2000-2007. From 2007-2011, he hosted his own morning radio sports show back here in Milwaukee, before returning to the national scene at Yahoo! Sports Radio last July. Doug's written work has also been featured in The Sporting News, Milwaukee Magazine, Inside Wisconsin Sports, and Brewers GameDay.

Doug and his wife, Erika, split their time between their residences in Pewaukee and Houston, TX.