Blog Entry

Historical Look at a BCS Plus-One

Posted on: February 22, 2012 9:01 pm
There's been a lot of talk about the BCS taking a serious look at some sort of four team playoff.  While I can't speak to the validity of these rumors, I can do my historical research!

First let's make a few assumptions.  If they go with four teams, I assume that there will be at least some conference championship requirement.  Most likely seems to be that three of the four qualifying teams would be the three highest ranked conference champions, with the fourth team being the highest ranked team that has not already qualified (be they conference champs or not).  Let's also assumed a sort of seeding process that would match the highest ranked qualifying team against the lowest ranked team in the first round.
With all that said, here's how such a proposed system would have looked every year since the BCS began in 1998:

#1 LSU vs #5 Oregon
#2 Alabama* vs #3 Oklahoma State
(#4 Stanford would not qualify, as the at-large bid was filled by #2 Alabama)

#1 Auburn vs #5 Wisconsin
#2 Oregon vs #3 TCU*
(#4 Stanford would not qualify, as the at-large bid was filled by #3 TCU)

#1 Alabama vs #4 TCU*
#2 Texas vs #3 Cincinnati

#1 Oklahoma vs #5 USC
#2 Florida vs #3 Texas*
(#4 Alabama would not qualify, as the at-large bid was filled by #3 Texas)

#1 Ohio State vs #4 Oklahoma*
#2 LSU vs #3 Virginia Tech
(All four teams won their respective conference titles)

#1 Ohio State vs #5 USC
#2 Florida vs #3 Michigan*
(#4 LSU would not qualify, as the at-large bid was filled by #3 Michigan)

#1 USC vs #4 Ohio State*
#2 Texas vs #3 Penn State

#1 USC vs #4 Texas*
#2 Oklahoma vs #3 Auburn

#1 Oklahoma* vs #3 USC
#2 LSU vs #4 Michigan
(Oklahoma lost the Big XII title game to Kansas State, but retained its #1 ranking.  They match up against #3 USC under the assumption that LSU, as the highest ranked conference champion, would receive the top seed)

#1 Miami vs #4 USC*
#2 Ohio State vs #3 Georgia

#1 Miami vs #4 Oregon
#2 Nebraska* vs #3 Colorado

#1 Oklahoma vs #4 Washington*
#2 Florida State vs #3 Miami
(All four teams won their respective conference titles)

#1 Florida State vs #4 Alabama*
#2 Virginia Tech vs #3 Nebraska
(All four teams won their respective conference titles)

#1 Tennessee vs #5 UCLA
#2 Florida State vs #3 Kansas State*
(#4 Ohio State would not qualify, as the at-large bid was filled by #3 Kansas State)

And a few points of interest...

The Big 12 would have led the way with 14 appearances out of a total 56 possible.  Next in line would be the SEC with 12 and the Pac 10 with 11.

The Big 12 is also the most diverse, sending 6 different schools to the hypothetical playoffs.

The school with the most appearances is USC, qualifying for 6 of the 14 years.  Oklahoma had five, while Ohio State and Texas each had four.

Speaking of four, it's the one place you don't want to be in the final BCS rankings.  In five separate years the #4 ranked team was left out in the cold...including twice by Stanford over the last two years.

So what does this all mean?  I have no idea.  There appear to be some interesting match ups, and certainly a few fans who's teams just missed out on the title game would be happy with their new found opportunity.  Just as certainly though, there would be at least as many who were upset that they didn't make the cut to the final four.  I'm sure that at some point the BCS (or perhaps its replacement) will put together some kind of playoff system.  There's a lot of money to be made there, and plenty of fans want to see it.  Until that happens, we'll have to be satisfied with looking back at what might have been.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or