Home > Sports > The BCS Proves To Be A Sham Once Again

The BCS Proves To Be A Sham Once Again

The stated goal of college football’s Bowl Championship Series is to put the two best teams from the season against each other in a head-to-head matchup for the national championship.  While the process of picking the #1 and #2 teams each year has generally done pretty well, the selections made to fill out the rest of the BCS bowls (which happened on Sunday night) prove once again just how broken the system is.

The top tier of college football’s bowl games (the Rose, Orange, Fiesta and Sugar Bowls along with the BCS Title Game) should be matching up the season’s elite teams against one another but due to a variety of conference tie-ins, rules and the ability of game organizers to choose who they want to compete in their game, the results missed the mark again this year.

Consider who’s competing.  The five games listed above could theoretically matchup the ten highest ranked teams in the country.  This year, it’ll include the teams ranked 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 13, 15 and 23.  In a system meant to choose the best of the best, how does this happen?  The best place to start is to look at the rules developed for choosing the teams.

The BCS has created a system designed to rank teams effectively throughout the system.  It uses a combination of human interpretation (using the AP and Harris voter polls) and computer analysis (combining six different computer ranking systems).  While there’s always some criticism of the two teams selected, the system has never made a blatant error.  #1 LSU deserves to be there after a 13-0 regular season including wins over several ranked teams including the team they’ll play again in the national title game, #2 Alabama.

Here’s the first criticism.  Alabama certainly has a case as one of the top two teams.  Alabama also failed to win their own conference outright and didn’t even play in the conference’s championship game (finishing behind LSU).  Does a team that can’t even win its own conference deserve to play for the national title?

#3 Oklahoma State would probably say no.  The only blemish on their record is a double overtime loss to Iowa State earlier this year.  They won the Big 12 conference outright on the strength of a 44-10 hammering of then-#10 Oklahoma.  They’ll face #4 Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl – another team that did not win it’s own conference but gets its spot by virtue of the rule that the top 4 teams in the final BCS ranking are guaranteed a spot in one of its bowl games.  Talk about a rule that shouldn’t have to be written.

#5 Oregon will face #10 Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.  Both teams won their conference championship games and the Pac 12 and Big Ten have long had ties to the Rose Bowl so this one makes a little more sense at least.

Which brings us another rule of the BCS.  Each of the major conference winners (Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, ACC, SEC and Big East) is guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl.  This is how teams like #23 West Virginia and #15 Clemson make it to the party but it comes at the expense of more deserving teams.

#6 Arkansas didn’t make it.  The had a deserving season but fell victim to a rule that says a conference can’t have more than two teams qualify for a BCS bowl (LSU and Alabama were already in).  #7 Boise State also didn’t qualify mainly because they don’t belong to one of the major conferences.  They belong to the Mountain West conference which doesn’t have an automatic bid which makes it more difficult for them to qualify (there is a rule to allow a non-automatic conference member to a BCS bowl but the first criteria is that they have to win their conference and Boise State did not).  #9 South Carolina was out for the same reason as Arkansas.

#8 Kansas State could have qualified though.  There was no rule preventing them from being selected.  They just weren’t deemed as being good enough.  #11 Virginia Tech and #13 Michigan were both picked for BCS bowls ahead of the higher ranked Wildcats.  And why?  You’ll love this reason – Virginia Tech and Michigan would produce greater revenue for the bowls than Kansas State.

The Hokies and Wolverines are both known for having fan bases that are willing to travel.  They also are able to draw television ratings.  Both of these qualities are quite attractive to selection committees looking to not only produce a good football but also make money in the process.

Consider the Big Ten’s bowl participants.  Wisconsin as the conference winner goes to the Rose Bowl by virtue of its win over Michigan State in the Big Ten title game.  You’d think Michigan State would tie up its spot as the second Big Ten team selected, right?  Wrong!  Michigan (which Michigan State defeated 28-14 earlier in the year and finished behind in the conference standings) was not only selected ahead of Michigan State but made it to a BCS bowl as well.

The Capital One Bowl gets the next Big Ten team (after the Rose Bowl participant and any BCS invitees).  Think they took Michigan State?  Nope.  They took Nebraska – another team with a storied football history and fan base that travels well (and happened to also finish behind Michigan State in the conference).  Michigan State which was a late game drive away from making it to the Rose Bowl ended up being only the 4th team selected for a bowl game.  Think it’s on the field stuff that matters?  Nope, it’s money that talks.

The solution is easy.  Replace the current BCS system with a playoff like every other professional and college sport already has.  Why don’t they?  Too much money tied up in the current system with big payouts to the biggest programs.  Why would they want anything to change.  They’re cashing in already.  Sadly, I think that’s the way it’s going to be for a while too.  Any proposal to change the system has failed to gain traction thus far.

So enjoy the college football bowl season.  While several of the games will no doubt be exciting it all ultimately ends up being little more than a joke.

What say you?  Do you think the current college football postseason system is broken?  Feel free to comment below.

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  1. December 5, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    It’s pretty awful that the BCS games have come down to just putting butts in the seats. There’s no way that the Sugar Bowl shouldn’t have been No. 7 Boise State vs No. 8 Kansas State. Check out the rest of my thoughts here: http://foultalk.wordpress.com/

  2. December 9, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I agree 100%. Both of the teams you mention deserve it. South Carolina did too.

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