College Football: Understanding the BCS and Why It Sucks.

2014 (when the 4 team college football playoff begins) is too far away.  Hey College Football Subdivision (AKA Division 1 to every normal person), stop thinking you’re too cool for school.  Last time I checked, in every sport on every level, a champion is determined based on a playoff system.  The teams or individuals earn their titles by competing against the best and winning. From little league softball to the NFL, this is how it’s done.  Every sport that is, except you jerk stores.  Below you will find a paper / essay / synopsis thingy that was written for grad school back in 2009’ish.  Please take note that the facts are from that time, but the message is still clear. Below you will find the basic understanding of how the BCS actually works and why Earth is against it.  I also still strongly encourage an 8 team playoff (which I obviously have so much power in making happen) and have added a little more Ric Flair to this piece to make it less schooly, and more awesome.  Enjoy!

Year in and year out, college football crowns its National Champion amid controversy in the Bowl Championship Series’ (BCS) National Championship Game, which pins the number 1 “ranked” team against the number 2 “ranked” team in the country (or whatever SEC team ESPN is drooling over the most at that time). For you peeps out there saying, “well heckle doodle, what exactly is the Bowl Championship Series?” I will now put my feel up and tell you. (below is some creepy youtube video I found where some dude loooooves to relax)

BCS Background:

The BCS began its tear through College FBS in 1998.  Today, it is an arrangement of 5 bowl games (Fiesta, Rose, Sugar and Orange Bowls, along with the National Championship Game) consisting of the “top” 10 teams.

1. These teams are managed by the commissioners of the 11 College FBS conferences and the Director of Athletics at the University of Notre Dame (noses held high), along with the bowl organizations representatives.

2. These “top” 10 teams are decided by the BCS standings formula which consists of 3 equally weighed components:

2A.       The USA Today Coaches Poll

2B.       The Harris Interactive College Football Poll, composed of former coaches, student- athletes, administrators and media representatives.

2C.       An average of 6 computer rankings (Anderson & Hester, Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey, Jeff Sagarin and Dr. Peter Wolfe).

These 6 separate computer rankings rank teams based on such factors as wins and losses, schedule strength, margin of victory, overall conference strength, starting position in the pre-season polls and the sites of where the games are played.  WTF, bro?

That now means there are 8 different polls and computer systems determining who ends up competing in the BCS National Championship Game. 8?  Fo’ realzies? Next time you make a decision on something, try asking 8 different people their personal opinion and chances are you’re ending up without a definitive answer.

Credit where credit is due, the BCS has taken a big part in developing the game into what it is today, but……fuck that.  I am tired of teams switching conferences  like people switch partners at an Eyes Wide Shut party.  I am tired of only hearing about the big schools from down south. So, due to nationwide (AKA Fanelli) complaints about boring and mismatched bowl games over the years, the teams identified as champions by the BCS are no more champions in my mind than every team from Notre Dame over the past 10 years  Let’s see some new teams in there. Geez laweez, spread the wealth College FBS.

Conference Participation (remember this was written in 2010):

Out of the 11 participating conferences and Notre Dame (take it easy ND) only 6 have been a part of the BCS National Championship Game (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, Pac 10 and SEC).  Since 1999, 6 teams have been represented by the Big 12 in bidding for a title, while the SEC is second in appearances with 5.  The ACC, Big East and Big 10 all tie with 3 games played each, while the Pac-10 has had 2 competitors.  However, the 2 Big East teams that have competed for the title, Miami and Virginia Tech, have since switched conference affiliations to the ACC. So, it could be argued that only 5 conferences have competed. With more eligible conferences being left out of the National Championship Game than have actually played in it since its inception, the large number of negative responses to the BCS is no surprise.  Yes, it’d be cool to see a MAC or WAC team in there.  And if a MAC team played a WAC team in the National ‘Ship game, there would be some great rhyming type advertising that could happen!

2008, you seamstress:

If you’re not fired up at this point about a college football playoff, please look no further than the melee that was the 2008 season in which 8 teams legitimately earned the right to compete for a National Title.  What a coincidence, that is what I am recommending for my playoff system. At the conclusion of the regular season, Florida, which had only 1 loss coming from an unranked Mississippi team, sat atop the SEC after handing previously unbeaten Alabama its first loss of the season in the SEC Championship.  Both teams sat with a record of 12-1 and were contenders for a National Championship Game birth.  They would have been teams 1 and 2 in 8-team playoff.  The USC Trojans ran away with the Pac-10 title and had a very reputable 11-1 record, with its 1 loss at the hands of unranked Oregon State, to be contender number 3.  With an undefeated season, the non-BCS caliber Utah Utes of the Mountain West Conference had much to get excited about at 12-0; the Utes would be team number 4.

Now let’s get to the Talladega crash that was the 2008 season of the Big 12.  Three teams were so equally matched throughout the regular season that there was just not one definitive champion.  The Red Raiders of Texas Tech showed amazing poise late in the season with a thrilling victory over the at the time #1 Texas Longhorns (39-33);

The same Longhorn team that easily handled the at the time #1 Oklahoma Sooners earlier in the year on a neutral field (45-35).  Oklahoma then defeated the at the time #2 Texas Tech team with surprising ease in the Big 12 Championship (65-21).  Each of the 3 teams split with the other 2. Texas and Texas Tech were now 11-1, while Oklahoma was 12-1.  Each team could have been a contender as team numbers 5, 6 and 7.  The Joe Paterno (2012, collar yank) led Penn State team, who were the Big 10 Champs at 11-1 (1 loss coming to an unranked Iowa team), would have finished out the playoff rankings as team number 8.  In no particular order, these 8 championship caliber teams (not to mention the undefeated Boise State Broncos of the WAC) all deserved a chance to play for the national title and yet computers, analysts and administrators decide their fate?  You guys are wieners. Have a playoff.

Chart Toppin’, Ne’Yo style:

The chart below depicts the final BCS rankings for the 2008 regular season, which ultimately determined the ”top” 2 teams in the country.  The non-definitive rankings included in this chart support why the BCS results are so heavily debated each year because clearly, even out of the 3 separate ranking systems, no one seems to agree. Not once did all 3 rankings systems have a single team in the top 8 ranked consistently.  Also, only 6 times out of a possible 24 allotted, were 2 out of the 3 ranking systems in agreement with an individual team’s overall ranking.

Overall BCS Ranking Harris Poll USA Today Computer
1. Oklahoma 2 1 1
2. Florida 1 2 3
3. Texas 3 3 2
4. Alabama 4 Tied – 4 6
5. USC 5 Tied – 4 7
6. Utah 7 7 5
7. TexasTech 8 8 4
8. PennState 6 6 9

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said the following about a potential playoff system in college football:  “There really is no interest exhibited presently by our presidents or chancellors or many others in having a playoff. I try to think about it in terms of, ‘what is in the best interest of college football?’ I think three principles need to be applied. One is that college football is part of higher education, part of the academic mission of our institutions and that’s an important piece of the puzzle that’s always going to be there. Two, football has a wonderful regular season, an exciting regular season that’s maybe the best regular season of all sports. Three, we’ve had a wonderful 100-year relationship with the bowl system.”  Come on Slive….

In 100 years there has not been one true, proven champion as no team has had the chance to earn their title while playing in a playoff atmosphere.  Without direct competition in a tournament format between the top teams, I am not convinced that college football’s past crowned National Champions were truly the best teams in the country in their respective seasons.

NFL Correlation (sort of applicable here):

If the NFL is any indication, the team that is widely considered as the best team in the league based on its regular season performance is not always the team that wins it all when the playoffs are over.  Over the same time span that the BCS has been in effect, 22 NFL teams have competed to be World Champions in 11 different Super Bowls.  Out of those 22 teams, only 10 of them were their conference’s regular season champion (best overall record in the AFC or NFC) and overall number 1 seed in the playoffs.  In addition, only 3 times out of the 11 games played, was the regular season champion victorious in the Super Bowl.  Three out of 11 is hardly a definitive percentage.  If the NFL played out like college football, then the regular season champion would have only “earned” its title 27% of the time.  AKA the Skip Bayless percentage.

I fully understand that you cannot please every single person that supports the sport of college football, but a change must be made or else the sport will continue to operate under ever-increasing scrutiny. Granted the BSC is a very sophisticated and involved process that was put in place after much analysis and consideration, my proposed solution is still to establish a sick-ass, dope, unreal bangarang known as an 8 team playoff.  Under my application, there would be a total of 7 games played over a course of 3 weeks for the tournament.  The BCS rankings system would remain in tact to determine the top 8 teams.  The first round of games would be the 4 BCS Bowl Games played out like any other 8 team bracket would.  The 4 winners of the BCS Bowl Games would then advance into the National Semi-Finals (i.e. NCAA March Madness), with the 2 winners competing for the title in the BCS National Championship Game.

Done and done (drops mic).


Although it seems the suits in Washington only seem to care about academics once they are brought up in regards to an anti-BCS, playoff system; that seems to be their best bargaining chip that wins out every time (kids missing school, psssh).  However, in Division III college football there is a 32 team playoff with each conference represented and a few at-large bids.  Each team has a 10 game regular season, which means that the 2 teams competing in the Stagg Bowl (Division III Championship) are playing in their 15th game of the season; and these kids aren’t even on scholarship! They are the epitome of student-athletes by managing their time, academics, athletics and subsequent D-3 jersey-chasers without athletic-based financial support from their respective universities.  I most note I am extremely biased considering I was one of those Division III players and yes, it is kind of like this:

Also, Division 1-AA, Division 2 and the NAIA all participate in 16 team playoffs. So, instead of a 12 game regular season in the College FBS, I would recommend limiting the regular seasons to 11 games, with 1 less preseason game as well.  With the amount of spring ball and summer “voluntary” workouts these players go through, the season is basically year-round, so I don’t believe that 1 extra week of playing would be detrimental.

Extreme Day Gaps:

Yo, MTV raps, check dis out: in 2008, both Florida and Oklahoma waited 33 days after their Conference Championship Games before meeting in the Title Game. In 2007, the Ohio State Buckeyes waited an astonishing 51 days in between the regular season and the BCS National Championship Game.  51! I think the players may actually prefer my proposal because it mitigates the amount of off-time between the regular and post-seasons.


Throughout the years there have been several efforts throughout NCAA channels to address a potential playoff system. However, even with discussions and serious debates taking place in 1976, 1988 and 1994, nothing came about and no compromises were made. The main disagreement against a playoff system is that the amount of money and time required to change over would damage the current BCS conferences financially.  With the total economic impact in the host cities from the 5 BCS games in January 2008 estimated at more than $1.2 billion, there is obvious room for worry within the BCS conferences. Plus, before 1998, conferences without automatic berths in the “major” bowl games received no revenue from those games. In the first nine years of the BCS system, more than $70 million was distributed to conferences that do not have an annual automatic berth in the system.   Although those are very “large” reasons to not forgo the current system, I feel that the potential incremental revenue that a playoff system would generate would benefit all of college football. Granted, I own only one suit and no calculator, so I am not sure how much insight I can offer this way, but by switching to a playoff system, the season would be extended, which would likely create more ticket sales.  With 8 teams now vying for a championship, the regular season no longer has to end for your team with 1-2 losses.  There is hope out there.
That is all…(picks mic back up, drops again).

Post by: anthonyfanelli


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