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Jim Harbaugh is Awfully Naive About the BCS

I'm a playoff proponent, so I'm not one to try to drive away someone from the cause. But hoo boy, Jim Harbaugh must've just fallen off the turnip truck when it comes to his knowledge of how the BCS works:

"One of the disturbing things is to hear that how Stanford travels to the game keeps coming up," Harbaugh said Wednesday. "I keep getting asked about that, keep hearing about that. Didn't notice that for any of the criteria there for the BCS rankings or what bowl you will go to." ...

"If the almighty dollar is at play in determining who the best teams are on the field then count me in for a playoff," he said. "I can't say it more emphatically than that."

Money is the whole reason the BCS is set up the way it is. The six power conferences and Notre Dame carefully constructed it so that they control the vast majority of the money, and so that it distributes just enough to everyone else to keep them (relatively) quiet and happy.

Their justification for making it that way is sound from an economic perspective. The member schools of those power conferences generally drum up the most interest, put the most butts in seats, and generate higher ratings on television. The BCS contracts are the most business-like agreement in all of college sports.

Perhaps Coach Harbaugh didn't see the BCS's official description:

The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is a five-game showcase of college football. It is designed to ensure that the two top-rated teams in the country meet in the national championship game, and to create exciting and competitive matchups among eight other highly regarded teams in four other bowl games.

In short, it's designed to pit No. 1 and No. 2 in one bowl game while making as much money as possible in the rest of them. The stated method of making that money is by having "exciting and competitive matchups," though that's something it arguably fails at in at least two bowls a year.

That bit is worded carefully to indicate that little is guaranteed after the top two spots in the BCS standings. Non-champions from AQ conference do get guaranteed bids if they finish third or fourth, which means No. 4 Stanford is probably safe for now. That and other little provisions are only in there though because of past selection scandals that caused face-saving changes to be made.

However, there's no guarantee of where Stanford will go. The bowl committees do have to break even, after all. If they don't sell out their games, they're in trouble. That's why the size of fanbase of each team matters during the process. Surely, Jim, you could find some way to get the fans excited and show up, right?

Harbaugh also expressed disappointment in Stanford's attendance figures this season. The school averaged just 40,042 fans at the 50,000-seat Stanford Stadium, selling out only for the game against Southern California.