The start of a new college football season this week also symbolizes the end of one of the sport's more polarizing forces.
The BCS begins its farewell tour.
If this were a retiring head coach making the rounds for one final season, he would be showered with parting gifts like a rocking chair or a personalized golf cart. The BCS will get a personalized hearse, GPS equipped with the fastest route to the nearest cemetery.
I'll miss the BCS. I liked it. Always did. It wasn't a flawless method for determining the most deserving candidates for the national championship. But perfection was never its intention.
The BCS succeeded. Since its inception in 1998, college football revenue and popularity exploded. And it was all because the BCS planted the seed that an inherently regional sport could embrace the concept of a single team standing alone atop the mountain after the season's final bowl game.
The BCS lit the path that appreciatively pushed college football beyond its self-imposed borders of conference championships.
But that won't stop its legions of critics from joyously counting down the days until it takes its last breath in Pasadena on the evening of Jan. 6, 2014 - and then spitting on its grave afterward. In their minds, the BCS embodied corruption, contempt and greed. It was a wicked cabal of a few conference commissioners whose only goal was monopolizing power and proceeds while squeezing out the little guy who requested only an occasional crumb.
Yeah, maybe, but it made college football more fun, didn't it?
College football remains the only major sport that thrives on conjecture. Debates rage and tempers flare over preseason polls and recruiting-class rankings. There's a subjective tone to the sport that remains its most enduring charm. It's why college football fans are more passionate than their professional football counterparts.
Why must there always be a nice, tidy solution in sports? There's always room for an argument in college football. The BCS provided plenty of bickering.
And how is that a bad thing?
One of the BCS's greatest accomplishments was its clarification of college football's regional imbalance. Eons ago, when it was all about the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl, the SEC and the Sugar Bowl, and the Big Eight and the Orange Bowl, every conference contentedly existed in its own little world.
But the BCS dramatically underscored an already acknowledged national population shift from the Midwest to the Sun Belt over the previous 20 years. According to a 2012 NFL study on the concentration of home-grown draft picks in 2003-12, nine of the top 10 NFL-player-producing states were in the Sun Belt.
The one exception was Ohio.
It's not a coincidence that each of the 15 BCS champions was composed predominantly of players from those 10 states - California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Louisiana, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Alabama.
One of the motivations for killing off the BCS was to somehow create a more equitable process through an actual playoff. Perhaps the most annoying anti-BCS whine was that the system was unfairly skewed toward the SEC. (I'm not sure if you've heard this before, but the SEC has taken the last seven BCS crowns and nine of the 15.)
Above all else, BCS succeeded in opening our eyes to the reality that there is no equality in college football at its highest level. And no playoff configuration of four, eight or 16 teams will balance those scales.
Maybe, after 16 years, the BCS's time has rightfully passed. But it's nonetheless entitled to a proper eulogy.