Senior College Football Columnist

Out with the tainted BCS measuring sticks and in with the Dodd Plan


With no AP poll, a panel of 30 respected media members would vote weekly in the Dodd Plan. (US Presswire)  
With no AP poll, a panel of 30 respected media members would vote weekly in the Dodd Plan. (US Presswire)  

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- First thing that has to be done is, blow them up -- every single metric used to rank teams in the BCS.

Coaches' poll, Harris poll, all those computers -- trash 'em. Now that we know college football is headed to a four-team playoff -- still can't get over that -- the next biggest hurdle is how to rank those teams. Those old BCS measuring sticks are, well, old and BCS. They're tainted, rusted, dead to me.

The commissioners who left the annual BCS meetings here on Thursday have a chance to do something revolutionary. Start over. Come up with a new way the game is considered, measured, viewed. Even the term "BCS" could be on death watch.

Yeah, I know you're broken up about that.

"The fate of college football is what we're dealing with here," Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick said.

It's time for something fresh and better. Not perfect. A playoff doesn't completely work until we get to 16 teams. At least. But that's a far-off discussion for another time. How the teams are going to be determined is the public face of a four-team playoff.

More on possible playoff
Related Stories

What, you're going to get all sentimental on me about losing the coaches' poll? That insidious, quasi-secret backroom determination that puts millions in the pockets of the actual participants able to game the system?

The Harris Poll? When Harris voters actually remember to turn in their ballots with all 25 teams on them, it's not half bad. Otherwise ...

Stand aside for The Dodd Plan.

Hire Jerry Palm for oversight: Seriously, and not because Jerry works for He made his bones long before he joined us, knowing more about the BCS (and the NCAA tournament's RPI) than those actually run it.

If nothing else, Palm can check the math. Had he been in charge of quality control, the BCS wouldn't have suffered the embarrassment of 2010 when Wes Colley forgot to enter a game into his computer. Palm discovered the mistake that led to LSU and Boise State being in the wrong order in the top 11.

It didn't affect any of the BCS games but that was only by pure luck. The only reason Colley's mistake was detected is that he makes his formula public. The other five BCS computer honchos do not. Which leads us to the next obvious fix ...

Replace the current computers: Unless their masters make their math public, they're out. We're talking to you Richard Billingsley and Jeff Sagarin. I'm not going to pretend I'd know how to check the numbers but Palm, and others, do.

Most worrisome, the BCS commissioners apparently don't care that much about that oversight. They've never been able to adequately explain why these six computer indexes are the best in the world. They're not but you'd think so by the BCS' fierce loyalty over the years. Certainly they're not the only computer options.

Give me an afternoon surfing the net, I bet I can find college football computer indexes whose owners will email me their algorithms. Congratulations guys, you're in the mix to pick the teams for the first FBS college football playoff.

Effectively program that/those computer(s): Palm says he'd use only one. He'd plug in strength of schedule, margin of victory and impact of playing I-AA schools and away we go. Three? Five? Ten computers?

Doesn't matter to me.

"Put into it what you want measured, and then tell people what is measured," Palm said.

Sounds simple but that would be a first in BCS history. Once again, secret math is bad math.

The commissioners have two years to get the bugs out. Suggestion: Get the ranking system settled now for the first season of the playoff in 2014. Run it behind the scenes in 2012 and 2013. Review the computer formulas for two years. Weekly. Consult with Palm. Seriously. That reduces the embarrassment factor for the commissioners by the time The Dodd Plan is rolled out publicly.

"Interesting thought," Swarbrick said. "We'll bring you into the [meeting] room."

New human poll: As stated, the coaches' poll has to go, for a lot of reasons.

There was a time when the 60 voting coaches didn't reveal any of their weekly ballots. They currently reveal only their final ballot. Congratulations, bubbas, give yourself another bonus.

The ideal replacement is the Associated Press media poll, but the AP dropped out after the 2005 season. It didn't want to have a hand in the news it covered. Fair enough, but it is still the most respected poll out there because it is objective. In a sport fraught with biases, the AP poll is as close as it comes to being fair.

My idea is to create a poll as close to the AP's as possible. Get respected media members -- 30 is a good number -- to vote weekly. Start with our Tony Barnhart, Bruce Feldman, Yahoo's Pat Forde, The Sporting News' Matt Hayes, etc.

"As long as the BCS can protect me from Alabama fans," Hayes said. "I'll do it."

He's kidding. I'm not about an elite qualified panel that would mirror AP. You can find my suggestion for 30 media voters in my blog.

Computers alone won't work because there has to be a human element. A human committee alone won't work either. The difference between basketball and football is sample size. The public accepts nine NCAA tournament committee members plugging in 68 teams that play approximately 35 games each.

There has to be a combination.

Make the standings weekly throughout the season: The BCS standings currently debut the third week of October. Forget that. Coaches bitch all the time about rankings being influenced by preseason polls. Yeah, and ...?

Give me $4 million a year and somehow I'll get over it. Fans love polls. It's the reason those preseason rankings are never going away. USA Today sells a lot of papers because of the coaches' poll. AP's clients want its preseason poll. It's one of the unofficial kickoffs to the season.

If we're waiting until October to appease the coaches, tough. Here's a brilliant idea mentioned by the astute Mike Leach. Release the standings each week on Thursday. That gives voters and maybe even computers time to digest the week's results. It also would start the drumbeat toward the next weekend's games.

You knew it was going to end this way: Leach, the man who wants a 128-team playoff, getting the last word.

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.

Biggest Stories

CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
Conversation powered by Livefyre


Most Popular