The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Bill Bowman

December 6, 2011

Bill Bowman's college football column: CBS, money and 'puters

Daughter: Hey, dad. Why is your face so red?

Me: Oh, honey, it’s too complicated. Six-year-olds don’t always get big-people stuff. Don’t worry about it.

Daughter: Tell me. I wanna know.

Me: Just some things I don’t understand. Seems like it should be a lot easier to figure out but ...

Daughter: Is it that football thing again, the CBS?

Me: The BCS?

Daughter: The football thing you always yell about: The CBS.

Me: Yeah, it’s the CBS. They still can’t figure it out.

Daughter: Why?

Me: Because it’s not really about football, or about who is the best team, or about what’s fair and what’s not. It’s about money.

Daughter: Well, money is good. I have some in my Cinderella bank if you think it will help. Just got another dollar from the Tooth Fairy.

Me: You keep that; it’s not going to help anyway. It’s not just the money. It’s that they can’t seem to figure out a way to find out who the best team is. Happens every year.

Daughter: Why?

Me: Because.

Daughter: Because isn’t a good enough answer.

Me: Um ... Well, it’s complicated.

Daughter: It can’t be that hard. Doesn’t one team beat everybody else. That’s the best one then, right?

Me: Well, sort of. But then they wait a month and play another game against the second-best team. The team that wins that game is the best.

Daughter: Why do they wait a month? Can’t they play, like, tomorrow? Don’t they know Christmas is coming?

Me: It’s not the wait, honey. It’s finding out who the second-best team is. Sometimes there are two teams that have not lost, so they play each other.

Daughter: That sounds easy ’nuff.

Me: Doesn’t always work that way, though. Like this year.

Daughter: What happened?

Me: One beat everybody they played. Then there a couple of teams that have only one loss.

Daughter: What one of those teams is the best?

Me: That’s the rub.

Daughter: Rub?

Me: That’s the problem, honey. No one knows. It’s a guessing game. Bunch of people like daddy vote for who they think is the best, then some computers think they know who is the best ...

Daughter: Computers play football?

Me: Um, no, but people know how to make their computers understand which team is better than another one.

Daughter: How they do that?

Me: I have no idea. No one does. It’s a big secret.

Daughter: Why? Keeping secrets isn’t good.

Me: I know, but if people found out how they worked it would open a whole can of worms.

Daughter: Yucky, daddy! Why is there a can of worms on the field?

Me: There’s not.

Daughter: Don’t they play games to find out who wins? Why they need a ’puter?

Me: Because not all teams play each other. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

Daughter: So if one team wins it’s better than the other, right?

Me: Supposedly, but that’s not how it works in football, honey.

Daughter: So that’s why your face is red?

Me: Sort of. You see this year the two best teams played each other and one, LSU, beat Alabama. LSU, they are the Tigers, haven’t lost all season.

Daughter: Okay, so they’re the best, right?

Me: For now, but they have to play again.

Daughter: Against who?

Me: Alabama.

Daughter: But you said they beat Abla ... Alba ... Ablama, right? Why they have to beat them again?

Me: That’s how it works.

Daughter: Doesn’t sound like it works. Sounds stupid.

Me: Don’t say stupid.

Daughter: But it is.

Me: I know.

Sports editor Bill Bowman covers college sports for The Danville News. E-mail comments to and following him at

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