Harrison On The Orange - Uhhh, BCS Defense?!

Posted Jan 5, 2012

Phil Harrison on the Orange Bowl - Where are the BCS defenses?

Orange Bowl - West Virginia 70, Clemson 33
| Cirminiello - WVU's Big O Moment
Fiutak - WVU's Big Night
Sallee - THE Fumble
Zemek - At Least Clemson Won Something
Harrison - Where's the D In The BCS?

Phil Harrison
Harrison: BCS Perceptions and the Lack of Defense

Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

Another bowl game--another higher than high scoring affair. In case you missed it, West Virginia hung seventy points on Clemson in the Orange Bowl--that's right, seventy. It was another bowl game in which teams put up points at a five alarm rate. But why the trend?

To say that there have been many controversies surrounding the BCS would be a slight understatement (sense the sarcasm dripping?). There is something else though that has slowly worked its way into the underbelly of college football, and it has everything to do with the state of today's game--and the BCS. And it has not been talked about as much as it should.

Polls have always been predicated on rankings based somewhat off of popularity contests, but ever since the BCS was instituted, the prom queen has had to work harder and harder to get to the dance itself. Gone are the days of making it to a traditional bowl game and the fruits that it provided. Gone too are the expectations of winning a conference and letting the chips fall where they may. What has happened is the new dawn of trying to get to a BCS game, and in a lot of cases, the BCS Championship Game-- or bust.

And the way you get there--scoring a LOT of points and leaving nothing to chance.

Despite the old cliche that defenses win championships, the perceptions of a team are largely formed by how many points it can throw up each and every time it marches through the tunnel . A 20-10 score does not look as impressive as a 40-20 score. Simply holding a team's offense down is not as good as putting the scoreboard operator in a coma. It can be highly entertaining for sure, but lost in all of this is the lack of defense on college campuses.

In order to impress voters--an ultimately get to a big money bowl, college coaches have by and large started putting their best athletes on the offensive side of the ball. The quest for more votes has also led to the exaggerated proliferation of the spread, an extremely fast-paced game, and the evolution of the dual threat, ultra-talented athlete at quarterback becoming the norm rather than the exception. Score as many points as you can, or be left in the dust--says the BCS.

And as the offenses have gotten more explosive, the defenses have had no choice but to fall behind. The creativity and time dedicated to them have not reached the proportions of the offensive efforts because there is only so much time. Most hires these days are done with the hopes of lighting a fire in the offensive huddle and then accenting the window dressings with a sound, efficient, and somewhat serviceable defense. But that's where it seems to end.

What we've been watching this year in the bowl games has provided further evidence to where the game has gone, where the priorities are, and where the biggest needs are. We've watched several records fall in the non-traditional bowl games, the mid-tier bowl games, and now the BCS bowl games. There doesn't seem to be an end in sight either as we get ready to wrap a bow on this season and look forward to a lot of explosive offenses ready to charge the batteries again this coming fall.

The bottom line: If you like defense, then the current cycle that college football is in still remains good, but it's not the prize you were hoping to get out of the cracker jack box. Instead, we have been left with the equivalent of nuclear football holocaust.

But don't fret, there is some good news. If this bowl season has made you cringe and callous over from offensive fireworks, just wait for the BCS Championship game next Monday night--we hear that actual, live defense will be played. Watch closely and set your DVR because it's becoming an endangered species.