As the college football season winds down, it bears remembering that the NCAA recognizes no official champion for the Football Bowl Subdivision (which real fans will forever call Division I-A). Even if this season's BCS National Championship Game manages somehow to reprise the 2006 Cotton Bowl with a rematch of Alabama versus Texas Tech (this time with zero rather than two losses apiece), major college football will stage a mythical national championship:
A mythical national championship . . . is a colloquial term used to describe a champion in a sport in which a championship is determined without the use of a playoff or tournament of some kind. It is most commonly used when referring to NCAA Division-I college football, since there is no playoff in that sport.Bo Schembechler, longtime coach of the once-great Michigan Wolverines, provided the definitive statement on mythical national championships:
"If there are any Big Ten teams that shoot for a national championship, they're damn fools," Schembechler said . . . . "You play to win the Big Ten championship, and if you win it and go to the Rose Bowl and win it, then you've had a great season. If they choose to vote you number one, then you're the national champion. But a national champion is a mythical national champion, and I think you guys ought to know that. It's mythical."Yeah, it's mythical. And it's stupid. Ask the President-Elect:
And even if this isn't change college football traditionalists and university presidents can believe in, never fear. Legal academia seems committed, if solely by reason of inertia, to mythical law school rankings.
Championships, athletic or academic, are bogus if they depend on subjective voting. College football deserves better, and if the NCAA heeds Barack Obama's advice, we might at last see a Division I-A football playoff. By contrast, legal academia is still struggling to meet a challenge that MoneyLaw laid down in its infancy:
No academic ratings system is valid if it depends in whole or in part on a subjective survey of academic reputation.