It’s time to put an end to the BCS
November 30, 2006
This column is about the Bowl Championship Series.
p. Need I say more?
p. I could have easily made this column about why the University of Michigan (currently no. 3 in the BCS rankings) deserves a birth over the no. 2-ranked University of Southern California in the BCS championship game against no. 1 Ohio State University (after all, their only loss of the season came at the hands of Ohio State, the undisputed number one team in the country, by only three points on the Buckeyes’ home field). I could also have made a case for no. 4 University of Florida, another one-loss team who has emerged as the top team (if they can beat the University of Arkansas in tomorrow’s SEC championship game) in a conference with five teams currently in the top 16 of the BCS rankings, as the most deserving team to face the Buckeyes in the title game.
p. But deciding between these three qualified teams — none of whom have played each other head to head this season — is next to impossible. So, as we seem to do with everything else in this day and age, we’ve left the decision up to a computer. It is this very system that is the subject of this column.
p. It’s time we dropped the BCS computer system altogether. Nobody likes it. Anybody who says that he does is just saying so to get attention. Think of it as the sports equivalent of someone who pronounces tomato, “to-mah-to.” Who do these people think they are? They clearly only want attention. Unless of course they’re British, in which case they probably don’t know much about the BCS anyway, because to them, football actually means soccer. But I digress. As it has been for a while now, it’s time college football switches to a playoff system.
p. Before I lay out my plan, it’s important for me to note that this is by no means a completely original creation, but rather something that draws on the countless ideas I’ve heard over the years regarding a college football playoff system, including some ideas of my own. So without any further ado, here’s my three-step plan:
p. 1.) Abolish the BCS ranking system. Form a committee, just like college basketball has for its tournament, that will select the most deserving eight teams in the country and seed them accordingly, numbers one through eight. There will be no automatic bids to the playoffs for winning one’s conference (although the committee should take that into account). By keeping the playoffs to eight teams, this will only extend the playoff team’s seasons by two games at the most and will give only the most deserving teams a shot at the title. Also, the committee members would be required to have seen every game — or, if that proves not to be feasible, an equal number of games — of each team that is being considered for the playoffs. As it stands now, both the AP and Coaches’ Polls — which play major roles in the BCS standings — include the votes of many people who have not seen many games or have much knowledge of the teams involved. This creates an unfair media influence over the polls. For example, if a coach hasn’t seen much of either USC or Michigan and he hears ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit rant about how impressive USC was in their victory over the University of Notre Dame and how they now deserve to be in the national title game (which he did, just one week after saying Michigan deserved to be there), are you telling me that the coach’s vote will not be influenced by that?
p. 2.) Once the matchups are assigned (the one seed would play the eight seed, the second the seventh, and so on), the first round will take place on or around Dec. 24, depending on what days of the week the dates fall. The winners of the first round will play in semifinal games on New Year’s Day, and the final game will be held on or around Jan. 8 (again, depending on the calendar). By keeping this schedule, it reduces the layoff for some of the top-ranked teams by two weeks and will ensure two marquis matchups on New Year’s Day, in keeping with tradition.
p. 3.) Keep all the other bowl games as they are. The playoffs can just be seen as their own separate entity. The NCAA can pitch the idea to the major bowls (i.e. Rose, Sugar, etc.) of sponsoring the playoff games, but if not, then the rest of the bowls can select any bowl-eligible team they choose outside of the eight playoff teams. As much as I’d like to see some of the lesser bowls eliminated (although how would my life be complete without the PapaJohns.com Bowl?), there’s too much money involved to think that this could realistically happen.
p. That’s all I’ve got. My plan probably has plenty of flaws, but there’s one thing I am sure of: the BCS system must be changed. Playoffs are the only real answer, as they will ensure an undisputed national champion. The most common argument against a playoff system is that there is so much money being made off the system as it currently operates. But if the NCAA can’t make money off of a product as attractive as college football playoffs, then maybe (and this is something I’m sure the NCAA hasn’t considered) they shouldn’t be in the business of making money.
p. __Jeff Dooley is the assistant sports editor for The Flat Hat. He finds the Bowl Championship Series both hostile and abusive.__