Blog Entry

What I believe about the BCS

Posted on: October 14, 2010 11:25 am

Full disclosure? I'm on the fence about a playoff. It could work, sure. It also could diminish the regular season like it has in college basketball.

As someone who covers it, I like the BCS. The drama, the lunacy, the fuzzy math. It has given us some of the wackiest moments in the sport's recent history ... Texas' campaigning in 2004 to get in ahead of Cal. The lunacy of Nebraska getting in in 2001. LSU fans' continued disbelief that their team actually shared the 2003 title with USC.

Of course, I don't have a Bulldog in the fight so, of course, it's fun.

What I think folks forget is that the BCS is miles better than the old bowl system. Joe Paterno will go to his grave knowing he could have won four more national championships if not for the old-style back-room bowl deals. We've had 13 1 vs. 2 games in the BCS era (since 1998). From 1943 (the first 1 vs. 2 game) to 1997, we had 31. That's an average of one per year (guaranteed, by the way) compared to one every 1.7 years.

I'll never forget Tommy Tuberville canvassing votes in the Orange Bowl press box (2004). I'll always wonder at Nebraska and Miami stepping onto the Rose Bowl turf as "foreigners" in 2001. I lost part of my hearing watching LSU win two titles. Like it or not, the BCS gave us all that.

With the first set of standings being released on Sunday, this is what I believe about the BCS ...

--Every week is a playoff.

True: In the sense that you lose once and you're in danger of being eliminated for the BCS title game. That has made for some great theater over the years.

"I think we've got to preserve this regular season," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said. "No one knows how much, but it would be diminished. Energy would go from the regular season into the playoff."

--A playoff would ruin the regular season.

False: Sorry, Bill, rivalries are rivalries. A playoff doesn't diminish Ohio State-Michigan, Alabama-Auburn or Kansas-Missouri. Three years ago, Missouri beat Kansas to go to No. 1 in the country. KU went to its first BCS bowl (Orange) in almost in 40 years. Missouri played for the Big 12 title before losing to Oklahoma. Both of those teams would have been safely in a 16-team bracket. And it wouldn't have mattered a lick to the rivalry.

--The BCS is about power, not money.

True: The presidents and ADs would rather keep a system where most of the money goes to the power conferences ... than make more money with a playoff. A playoff would mean more trickle down for non-BCS schools who one day might join the power elite. The BCS, without saying it, wants to keep the membership exclusive.

A BCS executive disagrees.

"The Mountain West could never be [an equal] to the Big Ten," the source said. "Not in your grandkids' lifetime, not in my grandkids' lifetime."

--The BCS is in legal danger.

False: I'm no lawyer but it has survived every legal challenge so far. Obama and the Justice Department don't seem to want to get involved. PlayoffPAC sends out a heck of a press release but has yet to make an impression. The Mountain West's trip to Washington D.C. in 2009 seems less compelling now that the league has lost BYU and Utah.

--If the commissioners wanted it today, a playoff could be implemented.

True: No question. If Jim Delany can talk the Big Ten into the BCS and, later conference expansion, he could talk its presidents into a playoff.

--The windfall from a playoff would cure all financial ills.

False: A 1994 NCAA study into a playoff abruptly died when the opinion of Florida State's Derrick Brooks was solicited. Brooks reportedly told officials something like, "What's in it for me?" Any windfall would re-start the pay-the-players argument. Pay the players and you have withholding. If you have withholding, the you lose tax exempt status.

The basketball tournament income is different because it is controlled by the NCAA and parceled out in "units."

--The only playoff that works is a 16-teamer.

True: That way all the conference champions get a berth, along with five at-large teams. That takes care of the non-BCS champions who would suddenly be guaranteed a berth.

Anything else merely extends the argument from who's No. 2 to who's No. 5 (in a four-team playoff) to who's No. 9 (an eight-team playoff).

--A selection committee could pick those five teams.

False: Not all of them. No way. You'd have lawsuits from here to Boise. Look at the trouble we got in weaving voters and computers into the process. Putting, say, 12 people in charge of picking the final few teams of a college football playoff would introduce all kinds of human biases.

--The bowls are a great way to throw away money.

True: As reported in the new book Death to the BCS, schools are lucky to break after having to pay for their own transportation, lodging and having to buy bowl sponsorships and tickets.

"The fact that we didn't go to a bowl game means we actually made money," former Michigan AD Bill Martin said in the book.

--The bowls would die if there was a playoff.

False: How can the likes of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and Humanitarian Bowl be any more meaningless? A playoff doesn't affect that at all. 


Since: Nov 25, 2007
Posted on: October 15, 2010 12:23 pm

What I believe about the BCS

"The drama, the lunacy, the fuzzy math. It has given us some of the wackiest moments in the sport's recent history ... Texas' campaigning in 2004 to get in ahead of Cal. The lunacy of Nebraska getting in in 2001. LSU fans' continued disbelief that their team actually shared the 2003 title with USC."  (Dodd)   -------Yes, and let's not forget the way that Florida campaigned to get ahead of Michigan a few years back.  Had it not been for that, Florida would not have won the national championship that year...and shouldn't have, anyhow, with the way things stand with BCS set-up, right now.  THAT is EXACTLY why we do need a playoff; and the only thing holding it back right now is power and money.  The bowls don't want to be messed with, and that is the bottom line.  Think about is almost ridiculous that we don't have a football playoff right now...all of the high schools and smaller NCAA colleges have it, and they absolutely LOVE IT!, give me one GOOD reason why we do not have it in major college yet?   There is none.  We don't have it for the same reason that we have no term limits in congress...because the people with power (the ones voting) stand to LOSE that power, if this happens.  PLAIN AND SIMPLE --too obvious. 

Since: Oct 20, 2009
Posted on: October 15, 2010 10:44 am

I believe the BCS should die

Here is an other possibility:
11 conference winner

5 at large, voted by conference presidents with open votes

any and all bowls bid for play off games, the highest bid gets the championship game; the next two highest bids get the final play off games, 4 next bids get

the semi final game the lowest 8  bids get the first round, now the good part: from any number of computer models that you want; the highest rated team

get to pick where or who they play but not both, then the second rated team picks and so on, the 16th team only get what is left

Since: Aug 29, 2009
Posted on: October 14, 2010 11:23 pm

What I believe about the BCS

Here's how it works:

Drop the regular season to 11 games against 1-a foes.  1-aa foes do not count towards the 11-game total.

Playoff is 16 teams.

Teams cannot have more than two losses.  Three and your out.  This keeps the regular season exciting and meaningful.

All Conference champions are automatically eligible as long as they do not lose more than one game.  Independents do not count.

Teams from the same conference and teams from the non-power conferences cannot meet in the first round.  This prevents what happens in basketball where the mid-majors get screwed playing each other so more big conference schools get into the later rounds.

First round takes place the first weekend in December at the site of the higher team.

Quarterfinals take place the week before Christmas (to allow time for finals) at the site of the higher seed.

Seminfinals the first weekend in January.  This can be the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, etc.  Have the bowls bid on the games.

Final the second weekend in January. Again, a bowl could bid for the rights to this game, or it could simply be the national championship bowl or something lame like that. 

As to the rest of the bowls, keep them.  Division II does that already as my alma mater has played in the Mineral Bowl after missing the playoffs.

Situation solved.  Players play two more games than they play now, finals are not interrupted, and the networks can scramble over television rights.  Ain't America grand?  


Since: Jun 11, 2010
Posted on: October 14, 2010 9:03 pm

What I believe about the BCS

Dodd, you are so full of it. Every week is a play-off and a pay-off--off the field of course. It's about power AND money; power is money. Campaigning is corruption. When ESPN campaigns behind the scene and gets its sports announcers and bloggers to do it for them, it's pretty obvious. And just because it's #1 vs. #2 doesn't mean those two particular teams should be #1 or #2 (See LSU & Ohio State the year USC and Georgia should have been #1 & #2). One fact is for sure: fans in this country are finally waking up and seeing the corruption for what it is. They see you bloggers and tv personalities and how you are biased if not paid off behind the scenes.

Since: Mar 18, 2007
Posted on: October 14, 2010 8:41 pm

What I believe about the BCS

I think you could argue that the old system was better than what we have now.Back in the day you would just play your bowl game, polls would vote, often different polls would give different results and there was no true champions. Just a voted "best team"
Now we have a system that does no more than the original but claims to give us what we have in College Basketball.

Since: Mar 18, 2007
Posted on: October 14, 2010 8:37 pm

What I believe about the BCS

There are two things that are stupid for a post season:
Letting an 8-4 Sun Belt champion into a playoff for the college football national title.
The other stupid thing is excluding an undefeated MWC or WAC team just because of their conference.
The first would happen if you let all conference champions in.The second is what we have when we only let two teams in.

The solution is to allow all conference champions who have no more than one loss to get in automatically.Most years this total would be less than 6.After this, any available slots, up to 8 total would go to the highest ranked at large teams.
A 2 loss maximum would be in effect for at large teams.
You would play one round in the middle of december.THat would give at least one bye week before the Janurary first bowl games.Two bowls would host a football final four, while the first round losing teams would be eligible for Bowl Games as well.
The final game would be later in January and a neutral site, selected similar to the way the final four is selected.
By keeping the format small, you retain the other bowl games and you retain the importance of the regular season.
With this format no team would really have a true argument if they were excluded.Win  your conference, either undefeated or with only one loss and you have earned it.Lose two and be at the mercy of the polls. 

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: October 14, 2010 8:31 pm

What I believe about the BCS

I have no stake in it and I hate the BCS. It actually isn't better than the old system, because we still have no true national champion. College football has the most meaningless regular season in all of sports because none of it matters. We still don't know who the champion is on January 10, and we never will. The national title is a myth.

I don't watch a single bowl game anymore, because what is the point? They're like preseason football, it doesn't matter who wins. There's not a single positive about the BCS.

Since: Oct 14, 2010
Posted on: October 14, 2010 7:36 pm

There is a better way

You can have bowls and a playoff system:

Complicated Plan to Implement a Playoff System


Preserve bowl structure

Maintain importance of regular season wins and conference championships

Implement a playoff system

Conference champions

Top eight ranked conference champions would play in seven bowls.  For example, if the top eight were SEC, PAC 10, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, ACC, MW, and Conf. USA, the bowls could be as follows:

Pac 10 v. Big 10

Big 12 v.

Orange:      ACC v.

SEC v.

Bowl 5:      Big East v.

Bowl 6:      MW v.

Bowl 7:      Conf. USA v.

The bowls would be free to tie into a conference.  For example, Fiesta could agree with Big 12 that they always take the Big 12 champion if the Big 12 champion is in the top eight ranked conference champions.


Assuming the Rose Bowl stays with Pac 10 v. Big 10, there is a need for six opponents.  Those six would be the highest ranking six teams that are not the top eight ranked conference champions.

Again, the bowls could tie into a conference for the second team.  For example, the Orange Bowl could agree with the SEC to always take the highest ranked SEC team that did not win the conference as its second team.

A bowl (say bowl 7) could tie in the second team and not the first.  For example, Bowl 7 could agree with the Big 12 to always take the highest ranked Big 12 team that did not win the conference and leave the conference champion to chance.

All bowls would be completed by January 1.

A poll would be released by the end of the day on January 2.


The winner of the seven bowls plus the highest ranked team not a winner of the seven bowls would be in an eight team playoff.  Four teams play one more game, two teams play two more games, and two teams play three more games.  The highest ranked team not a winner of the seven bowls could come from any bowl – not just one of the seven bowls.  The games would take place over the following three weeks.  In bracketing, the lower ranked team of teams that played previously would be moved down in the bracket to avoid rematches in the first round, and until the finals if possible.

Positives for this system:

1.  Existing bowls remain in place.

2.  Conference championships matter – so the regular season matters.

3.  Bowls matter – even those outside the seven.  If Oregon had ranked two higher it would have been in the playoff instead of Penn State.

4.  Potentially seven more bowls.

5.  Limited number of teams playing past January 1.

6.  No conference is locked out.

Negatives for this system:

1.  Polls still matter.

2.  Extends the season for eight teams.

Since: Jan 24, 2007
Posted on: October 14, 2010 4:26 pm

The Half Yard's suggestion could actually work!

I'm a college football junkie, reading dozens of articles a week, and this is the best proposed solution I've read so far--go figure that it comes in a posted comment on a column from one the sport's real knucklehead writers, who likes an untenable 16-team idea.

My biggest beef with the concept of a playoff has always been that it would devalue not just the regular season but also the bowl season. Too many playoff advocates seem to think that the bowls would somehow be ok with 4 weeks of playoffs following them. This would gut the significance of one of the best, most unique features of college football. Find me another sport where a team can end its year with a win, not bring home a national championship, yet still have a successful season?!?!

That's why I really like the proposal of having 8 of the top 12 teams in the BCS standings (which have overall done a remarkably good job) compose the contestants in the four BCS bowl matchups, getting rid of the title game, of course. That only extends the college football season two weeks, which avoids both student-athlete burnout and competition with the NFL postseason.

My guess is that this year culminates in three or four unbeaten teams claiming spots in the BCS Championship Game. Maybe in the ensuing uproar, we can tweak the current system and get a satisfying end to the season, without destroying all tradition.

Since: Dec 16, 2008
Posted on: October 14, 2010 3:21 pm

What I believe about the BCS

Yup. Agree with everything here. A 16 team playoff with the 11 conference champions and the 5 at-large bids are the only type of playoff worth having. The BCS sucks, and its not just the coveted BCS bowl that I feel I'm cheated on, its ALL of them. Take the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl for example. The NUMBER 1 team in the MWC, maybe a 12-0 TCU? Gets to play the NUMBER 5! Team in the Pac-10. What a joke. And every bowl is like that. They have there prearranged matchups and contracts with certain teams and conferences. Every year I feel like I see the same thing. The bowl system sucks. There are only about 5 really interesting bowl match-ups each year, and most of those are the BCS bowls. It's sad. Read Death To The BCS people, it will explain everything.

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