9:27 AM, Jan 8, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Has there ever been a better season of college football? The final game of the Bowl Championship Series, which ranks among the finest ever played, further confirms what has been clear for some time: This is the golden age of college football.
On Monday night, before 94,000 people in the glorious Rose Bowl Stadium, Auburn took a 21-3 2nd-quarter lead over undefeated Florida State, a team that had beaten every previous foe by at least two touchdowns. The Seminoles fans in attendance were dumbfounded, openly asking how this could be happening and feeling powerless to provide the answer. But Florida State's defense dug in, Auburn's eventually started to tire, and the Seminoles roared all the way back to take a 27-24 lead deep in the 4th quarter. Auburn then responded with a remarkable clutch drive, capped by a splendid touchdown run by All-American Tre Mason, to go up 31-27 with just over a minute to play. But the Seminoles quickly drove into Auburn territory, toward the end zone that was surrounded by those wearing navy and orange, and, with just 13 seconds on the scoreboard's game clock, they snatched the national championship from the Tigers' worthy grasp.
It's hard to square such a scene, or such a resolution—Florida State is now the clear national champion—with Jason Gay's claim in the Wall Street Journal that the BCS was "a mess," "didn't solve much," and didn't offer the "clarity" of a playoff. Tell that to Florida State fans. Tell it to anyone who watched on Monday night, who watched from September onward, or who watched over the past decade—during which time the BCS (whose formula was wisely revised after the 2003-04 season) always put the matchup on the field that fans thought should be staged, always produced a clear national champion, and was more—not less—likely than a playoff to pit #1 versus #2 for all the marbles.
Gay writes that the BCS "was a reactive half-measure." But the BCS's focus on improving rather than overhauling was a key to its success. Overhauls give us the likes of Obamacare. Improvements give us the likes of Monday night's game. It's no coincidence that the man for whom Obamacare is named didn't like the BCS.
Gay, perhaps channeling his inner Obama, says that "fairness" necessitated a change. That's the only real argument he offers on behalf of his apparent hope that college football will eventually jettison its bowl games altogether. Meanwhile, Gay offers plentiful arguments showing why a playoff is a bad idea: perfect seasons will no longer be so handsomely rewarded (he actually cites this as a virtue); teams' real fans won't so overwhelmingly be the ones in the stands, as they are at bowl games but are not to the same extent at NCAA Tournament basketball games; and, as he writes, "an expanded playoff format" (beyond four teams) "could diminish the thing that makes college football college football: the weight of the regular season." That's a pretty big downside.
Gay misses the most important point, however, about the shift to a new format next season after a decade of splendor under the BCS. The most important change is not the shift from a 2-team to a 4-team playoff; it's the shift from a selection process that refined and enlarged public opinion (the polls) by rooting it in objective measures (the computer rankings) and producing a numerical result, to one based entirely upon the subjective and unchecked conclusions of a tiny supercommittee of "elites."
You see, while a 4-team playoff will unfortunately undermine the Rose Bowl, which will now get to host a lot of runners-up from the Pac-12 and Big Ten, it won't undermine college football's unmatched regular season to any great degree. But an 8-team playoff would be a game-changer, sapping college football's regular season games of much of their meaning and hence of their drama, and undermining a hallmark of the BCS: fans' interest in games in other regions. A tiny, subjective, closed-door committee invites an 8-team playoff, as fans will surely demand that its unilateral decrees be made less influential.
The BCS Standings would have produced a playoff field this year of Florida State, Auburn, Alabama, and Michigan State. Nobody knows what the supercommittee's decrees would have produced, and therein lies a large part of the problem.
11:15 AM, Dec 7, 2013 • By FRANCESCA CHAMBERS
It was only 10:30 a.m., and already, we were too cold to move, let alone get out of our SUV to tailgate. We’d been parked outside Notre Dame’s football stadium in South Bend, Indiana, in the alumni lot for more than two and half hours, ahead of the university’s last home game of the year against Brigham Young. Normally, cars line up in the wee hours of the morning to claim the best tailgate spots, but today, the stadium parking lot was a ghost town, with only one other vehicle in sight.
Reforms are nice, but will they happen?Nov 11, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 09 • By MARK BAUERLEIN
Everyone’s angry at American colleges. Parents groan about tuition, students pile up debt and can’t find work, employers gripe that graduates lack job skills, conservatives decry liberal bias, Ph.D.s without a regular post become bitter transient adjuncts, and politicians suspect that tax dollars pay for useless majors and cushy schedules for professors.
11:13 AM, Sep 12, 2013 • By JONATHAN BRONITSKY
Hardly an academic semester goes by without a high-profile opportunity arising for the right to address pervasive, perennial anti-conservative animus on the American college campus. And hardly an academic semester goes by without the right, reflexively blinded by righteous indignation, blowing an opportunity to do so.
1:40 PM, Sep 4, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
The National Security Agency (NSA) is broadening its recruiting efforts for future cyber experts.
"If you have a high school diploma, there’s almost nothing for you."1:39 PM, Aug 22, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, on Air Force One en route to New York for the president's education bus tour, had some strong words to say about the prospects of those who don't graduate from high school, and also about those who complete high school but do not go on to college.
7:23 AM, Jun 28, 2013 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
As a “millennial” (i.e. one born between 1980 and 2000), I’ve grown used to reading descriptions of myself – written, always, by those much older than I – that I don’t recognize. It’s a bit like hearing my voice on tape – can that really be me?
12:04 PM, Jun 3, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Andrew Ferguson, along with Joseph Epstein and Peter Robinson, on "Who Killed the Liberal Arts?"
An Obama administration ‘blueprint’ targets free expression on campuses. Jun 10, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 37 • By CHARLOTTE ALLEN
It's a well-known fact that on most college campuses, supposedly havens of academic freedom, you really have to watch what you say.
1:05 PM, May 31, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Reprising the "Don't Double My Rate" theme used during the 2012 presidential campaign, the White House is pushing a plan by President Obama this week to prevent interest rates on some student loans from doubling effective July 1. However, the savings for most borrowers is rather less significant than might appear at first glance. The White House uses the example of an incoming freshman, who they say will save $4,000 under the president's plan:
Hosted by Michael Graham.3:45 PM, May 28, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior editor Andrew Ferguson, author of Crazy U, on the rising cost of college and whether it's still worth the cost.
7:04 AM, May 20, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Student loan debt runs to about $30,000 per graduate of the class of 2013, as Phil Izzo writes in the Wall Street Journal. And the total amount of student loans outstanding runs to almost a trillion dollars: more than either credit card balances or automobile loans. More than any form of consumer debt other than home mortgages.
11:44 AM, Mar 19, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
In a season when we all become bracketologists, here is an interesting variation that uses the form to conduct a playoff in which the school that costs more to attend wins and moves on to the next round against another institution of absurdly high priced learning. Another elimination and the price, again, goes up. Parents of college-aged children will quickly get it.
4:28 PM, Feb 26, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
David Plouffe, a former advisor to President Barack Obama, tells a student newspaper at the University of Chicago that one need not be college educated to do politics. Plouffe states, though, that he thinks "everybody should have a college degree."
The students ask, "Do you think it’s necessary to have a college degree to get into politics?"