A Better Solution
The Bowl Championship Series, also known as the BCS, lends itself to much discussion around the country this time of year. The proponents of the system claim it is the best available method for selecting the two teams to play in the national title game which will eventually crown the champion of all of college football. The 4 + 1 BCS system we currently have could be tweaked, yes, but it is the best we have.
There are many people who believe this garbage, but I’m not one of them. I have several issues with the process to begin with and I will not only expound on those gripes, but will suggest not one, but two better solutions to the problem at hand.
First of all, the polls making up the selection process are fundamentally flawed, mostly from the human poll’s standpoint. Today’s college football landscape does not lend itself to teams going undefeated. In the past 8 BCS lineups, only 3 of the national title games involved two undefeated teams (2002, 2004, 2005). That means in the remaining 5/8 of the match ups featured, at least one team had a loss; even a two loss team in LSU last year.
The polls are a funny animal, as they claim to rank the teams theoretically from best to worst. Except if a team is undefeated, then they get to rise artificially to the top. No one would argue that Utah, Boise State (Oklahoma game aside), or Ball State should be in the title game. Why are they ranked so high, then? Wouldn’t Texas Tech destroy Utah? If yes, then why are they ranked behind them? This question should be asked non-stop in every poll ever released; too much is riding on the voters’ decisions.
The other fatal flaw accompanying pollster’s concept of the ‘undefeated team dooms the poll system, and thus the BCS’s underlying foundation’, is the timing of a loss. Teams who lose early in the season are quickly forgiven either by amnesia or the chance to redeem themselves. Lose late and those voting do not forget – plus, there is no time to recover, effectively killing the title hopes of a good team.
What if Florida had lost to Ole Miss the week before the SEC title game against Alabama? They would have NO chance of playing the BCS championship, none whatsoever. Instead, some other one-loss team would be taking their place against one-loss Oklahoma. See my point?
The obvious exception to this argument is when Nebraska snuck into the title game despite getting humbled by Colorado 62-36 immediately before the Big XII championship. Colorado instead went, but since they had 2 losses (now not a problem…see LSU), they were out. The Cornhuskers needed several teams to lose in front of them (7 if I remember correctly), and that is just what happened. The fortune that placed NU into the BCS title game versus Miami is not likely to be seen again. A late loss is the death knell to the title hopes of any college football squad.
I would wager the polls would carry much more gravity than they currently do when it comes to undefeated teams who are unworthy and the late losses to highly-ranked foes due to the methods spelled out below.
A Better Solution–A Hybrid System
The rules and conditions behind the hybrid of a playoff-bowl system to decide our national champion, with a nice mixture of subjectiveness and objectiveness, are listed below. There are two paths to take, one with conferences sending a lone representative, the other with a 1-12 BCS ranking earning your favorite team a ticket to the Biggest Dance.
Method A: Top 12 teams by traditional BCS ranking system advance.
Method B: Conferences choose representatives by way of title game.
1. Eliminate the 12th game for every team in America. This was the case not long ago before the NCAA allowed the 12th game on a team’s schedule, effectively making an extra gate for BCS conference schools. Make it 11, unless Method A is selected.
2. Start the first game on the last Saturday of August. This would put Week 11 in the first weekend of November. If choosing Method A, no need for conference title game, and teams can retain their 12th game.
3a. BCS Top 12 are chosen. Too bad for Team #13. Win your games.
3b. Each conference is required to have a conference championship game to participate. There are 11 conferences currently, including the Big 12, Big 10, Big East, ACC, SEC, MAC, Mountain West, PAC-10, Sun Belt, WAC, and Conference USA.
4b. (continued from 3b.) The last team is the next highest ranked BCS non-conference champion. Notre Dame, Navy, Army, and Temple are not eligible unless they join a conference or are the top ranked non-champion.
5. The BCS Top 4 teams all receive byes. Games in the first 3 rounds are played on campus sites, with the home team being the higher ranked school.
6. Play begins on the third weekend of November for the first round, national quarterfinals on the last weekend of November, and the national semifinals on the first weekend of December, traditionally the week of the title games.
7. Those schools winning their way to the national title game would then wait to play in the BCS-rotated bowl of old: Orange, Sugar, Rose, and Fiesta. Eliminate the +1 of a repeat game held at the same location.
8. The next top 6 teams (quarterfinalists) fill the remaining BCS spots. Thus, the teams receiving byes are guaranteed a BCS position.
9. The current bowl system is upheld. The remaining 4 teams from the National Tournament that failed to win a game are released back to the pool of traditional conference tie-ins.
10. Bowls are played out as usual, with the crown jewel being the title game.
The disadvantages are numerous to this system, like schedules that stretch far into the future. Or Notre Dame not being in any conference. Or the loss of a 12th gate and/or the loss of a conference title game.
But the advantages far outweight these. The season (including the first 3 rounds of the playoff) is finished precisely when the conference title games would normally be completed. This eliminates the insanely idiotic argument that a playoff system would keep students away from school. It also puts down the issue of money from bowls…this makes MORE money by including more games and more national exposure.
The point making this idea golden is that teams from our beloved Big 10 would have a geographic fighting chance against teams from the south. When Ohio State matched up with LSU and before that Florida, the outcome might have been much different had the game been played in cold weather, with snow and sleet and a hostile crowd. The teams from north of the Mason-Dixon line have a built-in disadvantage when it comes to climate and playing directly into the hands of USC, Texas, Florida State, Miami, and the whole SEC.
It also resolves the issue of having fans travel twice for a 4 team playoff or possibly 3 times for an 8 team playoff. Higher ranked teams get the home field assignments and thus do not have to travel. A ticket allotment can be provided for the visiting school, but win the games (particularly the big games), and get the home games.
2008–HOW IT WOULD HAVE WORKED
Top 12 BCS Method
(1) Oklahoma Sooners–bye
(8) Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Boise State Broncos @ University Park, PA
(5) USC Trojans vs. (12) Cincinnati Bearcats @ Los Angeles, CA
(4) Alabama Crimson Tide–bye
(2) Florida Gators–bye
(7) Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. (10) Ohio State Buckeyes @ Lubbock, TX
(6) Utah Utes vs. (11) TCU Horned Frogs @ Salt Lake City, UT
(3) Texas Longhorns–bye
Conference Champion Method–BCS rankings determine seeding
(1) Oklahoma Sooners–bye
(8) Cincinnati Bearcats vs. (9) Virginia Tech Hokies @ Cincinnati, OH
(5) Utah Utes vs. (12) Troy Trojans @ Salt Lake City, UT
(4) USC Trojans–bye
(2) Florida Gators–bye
(7) Boise State Broncos vs. (11) Buffalo Bulls @ Boise, ID
(6) Penn State Nittany Lions vs. (10) East Carolina Pirates @ University Park, PA
(3) Texas Longhorns–bye
How can anybody deny the greatness of either method? The “experts” get to have their polls, the “university presidents” get their money, the “students” get their study time, and the “fans” get what they deserve. -Greg