Roy Kramer never claimed the Bowl Championship Series was perfect, nor was he so naive as to think there wouldn't be some controversy along the way.
But, as college football bids adieu to the BCS on Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif., when No. 1 Florida State faces No. 2 Auburn for the national championship, Kramer will know very contentedly that it served its purpose and, more times than not, served it well.
"Despite the criticism, I think perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the BCS was the increased interest in college football and elevating it to a national sport from a regional sport," said Kramer, who implemented the idea heading into the 1998 season.
"We were able to maintain the significance of the regular season, which was a goal. The regular season is the backbone of college football, so that was very important. And even though some people might say there are too many bowls, we were able to maintain and expand the bowl system. Look at the number of Mid-American Conference teams going to bowls now. And without the BCS, you never would have had Boise State playing Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl or Hawaii playing in the Sugar Bowl.
"Rather than it being restrictive, I think the BCS broadened college football."
Kramer, who's now retired, still follows college football as passionately as he ever did. He plans to be in Pasadena for the Vizio BCS National Championship and, perhaps fittingly, can't remember a more exciting finish to a regular season than this year's.
"The last three weeks of this season were about as good as it will ever get," Kramer said.
It's hard to argue that point when you consider some of the wild finishes, stunning upsets and memorable plays.
The pressure of trying to squeeze into those top two spots in the final BCS standings is not for the meek and has repeatedly produced its share of compelling drama down the stretch.
"The exciting thing has been to watch it work its way out as we got to the end of the regular season," Kramer said. "Even this year, everybody was moaning and groaning at one point that we might have eight undefeated teams and that it was going to be absolute chaos.
"A lot of times, what people forget is that the BCS was meant to determine the top two teams at the end of the year and not in October."
Kramer, the former SEC commissioner, knew that the end of the BCS was near and that a playoff was coming after Alabama and LSU wound up playing in a rematch for the national championship to cap the 2011 season.
"There wouldn't have been nearly as much pressure to go to a playoff had that not happened," Kramer said. "Everybody still would have been talking about it, and I'm not saying that it eventually wouldn't have happened, but that game certainly expedited it."
The outcry, at least outside the SEC's borders, was deafening. Alabama didn't even win its division championship that season and lost at home in November. Yet the Crimson Tide were able to forge a rematch with LSU, which won all 13 of its games that season against one of the most difficult schedules in the country.
Rather than it being restrictive, I think the BCS broadened college football.