If Europe Used the BCSAn experiment involving the most non-thinking system of determining a champion
by Jeff Maurer | Friday, October 26, 2012
My dad loves college football, which means he hates the Bowl Championship Series. Every college football fan hates the BCS. Really, anyone acquainted with math or logic or football hates the BCS. Anyone who does not personally profit from the BCS hates the BCS. There is a chance that my dad’s beloved Oregon Ducks might go undefeated and miss out on the championship game this year, which means that he hates the BCS more than usual.
“How can you compare different teams who play different schedules and different amounts of games?” my dad will ask, demonstrating that the Intro to Logic class he took at U of O 40 years ago really had an impact.
The answer, of course, is: “You can’t.”
Dad will continue (oh how he’ll continue!): “There are six ‘major’ conferences, but they’re not equally good. Then there are several ‘minor’ conferences that have some good teams, but there’s not much parity. And they hardly ever play each other. Only an idiot would try to compare them to each other!”
Which gave me an idea: I should try to compare European soccer teams to each other. It’s roughly the same structure: A few “big” conferences/leagues, several small ones, different structures, different numbers of games and few head-to-head matchups to go off of. It would be insane to try to determine the best team in Europe subjectively ... so let’s do it.
I’m doing this BCS-style, which means I am factoring in record, strength of schedule, “quality wins,” coach’s opinions, uniform aesthetics, traditional status, personal biases, physical attractiveness of star players and positive/negative consumer experiences with jersey sponsors. Basically whatever the Hell I feel like factoring in. It will be stupid, it will be arbitrary. But by the end of this process, you will be more grateful for the Champions League than you have ever been.
1. Bayern Munich (8-0-0) Mid-season first place in the BCS always goes to an obnoxiously self-absorbed traditional powerhouse. Teams that aren’t traditional powerhouses – say, Wolfsburg or Kansas State – have to prove themselves through the course of a full season, but powerhouse teams start out at the top. Do these teams ever seem grateful or even aware that they started out with a huge advantage? No. No they don’t. I call this the “George W. Romney” spot.
2. Chelsea (7-1-0) Second place is also traditionally occupied by an undefeated, self-absorbed powerhouse. This sets up a spirited “who’s number one?” debate between the top two teams, which only serves to heighten their obnoxiousness. Also, this debate never involves the schools’ debate clubs, but instead is comprised of bar patrons, alumni boosters and loudmouth ex-athletes working as TV analysts. This debate never rises above the level of “dude, nuh-uh!”
3. Juventus (7-1-0) Right away, we see the futility of this exercise: Chelsea and Juventus are both 7-1-0; how can you choose between them? You can’t but you have to. To make matters worse, Chelsea and Juventus HAVE played each other this year and tied. Yet if this was the BCS, Chelsea would be headed to the championship game and Juventus would be headed to the Taco Bell/Immodium AD Bowl.
4. Barcelona (7-1-0) More ridiculousness: another 7-1-0 team from a major conference! This is where, in college football, strength of schedule and ridiculous extrapolations from head to head matchups would factor in. “Let’s see,” Lee Corso would say “Real beat Barca in the Super Cup, and Borussia Dortmund beat Real Madrid in the Champions League, but Schalke beat Dortmund, and Arsenal beat Schalke, and Norwich beat Arsenal, and Fulham beat Norwich, and Sheffield Wednesday beat Fulham ...” Do you see where I’m going with this? Using this logic, you can argue that Grimsby are the best team in Europe.
5. PSG (5-4-0) Last of the undefeated teams; this is the spot the BCS begrudgingly gives to the best team in the worst “big” conference. In this analogy, France is the Big East. But France is really more of a basketball country anyway.
6. Shakhtar Donetsk (12-0-0, and also sitting above Chelsea and Juventus in the Champions League) This spot is for the small-conference team that just wins and wins but is systemically prohibited from leapfrogging the “big” teams. Most years, it’s Boise State. If you’re Boise State, no matter what you do, you will never achieve success. It is cruel; it is Sisyphean. I would guess that Boise State fandom has produced more existentialists than World War II.
7. The 1977 New York Cosmos As long as we’re playing the “which team is better?” game ... how good were the ‘77 Cosmos? Pele, Beckenbauer, Canaglia, Alberto – that team was stacked! Including them here is no dumber than any other part of this exercise.
8. Atletico Madrid (7-1-0) Exact same record as Barcelona, exact same league ... but not a traditional powerhouse, so ranked four spots lower. If this were college football, Atletico might finish the season with one more loss than Bayern, at which point Atletico could point out that it played four more games, at which point the people voting for these polls would realize the ridiculousness of comparing teams with such different schedules, at which point they would just vote for Bayern because Bayern is Bayern.
9. Real Madrid (4-2-2). What’s that you say - they’re not having a very good year so far? Ah, but this is the BCS - last year’s powerhouses get to lurk around in the Top 10 until they prove decisively, definitively, once-and-for-all that they’re not going to do it again this year.
10. Celtic (6-2-1). Celtic is the Notre Dame of international football: devoutly Catholic with Irish roots. Notre Dame football doesn’t have a conference, and Celtic play in the Scottish Premier League, which is as close to not having a league as you can get. And BCS voters always do anything they possibly can to get Notre Dame into the mix, so I’m putting Celtic here.