Cognito Ergo Latro: Bowl Championship Series

January 2, 2009


 

Well, college football is almost over and it is almost too late to complain about the BCS Bowl system this year. I want to throw in my two cents before it’s completely irrelevant, so here goes:

 

When looking at college football, there are some major problems at how the system is set up. How can a system where two teams with a less than perfect record (Florida and UT-Norman) be playing to be declared the nation’s champion when there are three teams with a perfect record (Boise State, Utah, and Ball State) be considered sufficient to figure out the best team of the year? Here are the problems with the current system: 

 

1) BCS discriminates against good teams from “mediocre” conferences (see the three perfect record teams above).

2) BCS discriminates for mediocre teams from good conferences (yesterday I saw Nebraska in a decent bowl game, even though they did not have a stellar year).

3) BCS discriminates against good teams without a tradition of being good (Texas Tech was not really even considered as a choice to the South division team in the Big 12 conference championship game).

 

A playoff system would not realistically treat any of these problems, because seeding would still be based on the BCS ranking system that is the heart of my enumerated issues. The strength of schedule basis is too great a barrier for Boise State and the like to get past, no matter how loudly the BCS folks claim is not an issue. A good team from a mediocre conference would still be placed lower in the rankings than a less successful team from a better conference, and would thus have a harder time advancing in a playoff situation. Boise State would have had to start by playing, say Utah, while UT-Norman would get to start by playing Florida Atlantic. 

 

If they were going to change the system, I suggest they think outside of the box. Or at least inside the X-Box.

 

When EA got exclusive rights to the NFL license, Midway used the opportunity to revamp their Blitz series by creating “The League”. This “The League” has an interesting parallel to college ball. Both systems feature equally matched conferences. “The League” has staggered divisions, where the winner of the lower division replaces the loser from the higher division. I think if the NCAA instituted these staggered divisions, some of these problems would go away. 

 

How this would work:

 

Each BCS conference would be assigned a feeder conference with similar geographical area. The winner of the feeder conference gets an automatic move into their BCS conference; the bottom dweller of the BCS conference would move down into the feeder conference. Exemplia Gratia: Boise State would join the Pac-10, while Washington  would move down in Western Athletic Conference. The winners of the BCS conferences would then play a short playoff to determine the national champion. The other bowl games would happen as normal.

 

Of course, this system would have some issues, especially during the initial implementation:

 

1) The number of teams in each conference would need to be standardized and each game needs to be a conference game. Letting a BCS conference team pad wins and “style points” by beating on a non-BCS team would skew the results and kind of misses the point of similarly skilled conferences. 

1a) Similarly, the “money games” would have to stop. For those people who went to a pricier university than I did, a “money game” is when a good team pays a bad team to play them (as either a home opener or a non-conference game). The good team gets a padding win; the bad team gets to live quite a bit less in the red. Part of this problem may go away as bad BCS teams enter the feeder conference, but the ultimate solution might be to combine the BCS and feeder conferences finances.

1b) Also, the independent teams would have to finally join a conference. Sorry Army, Navy, and Notre Dame, you must assimilate. 

2) Rivalry games are going to be in danger. Take the Apple Bowl for example. That game would not happen next year, since Washington would not be in the PAC-10 (which would be the PAC-12). These rivalry games might need to be exhibition games (mayhaps during that break before the bowl season?)

 

Of course, suggesting something as radical as standardizing the conference sizes and feeders would be a little cruel without giving the man something to start with.  So, I’ll finish this off with a gigantic list. It is not a perfect list, but, with 119 teams, the system needed 5 BCS conferences with 5 feeders to make things even. But, what else can be done, considering the need for geographical constraints. After you are done pursuing my half-baked attempt, go read a book. 

 

BCS- ACC/Big East (6 teams drop)

Florida State

South Florida

Maryland

Wake Forest

Clemson

Virginia Tech

Georgia Tech

North Carolina

Boston College

Pittsburg

Rutgers

Penn State

 

Feeder for ACC

Duke

Virginia

Navy

Army

East Carolina

UCF

Syracuse

Marshall

Buffalo

Temple

North Carolina State

Connecticut

 

BCS- Big 12 (TAMU & Iowa St. drops)

Missouri

Nebraska

Kansas

Kansas State

Colorado

Oklahoma

Texas

Texas Tech

Oklahoma State

Baylor

Iowa

Tulsa

 

Feeder-

Texas A&M

Iowa State

Rice

Houston

UTEP

S Methodist

TCU

Air Force

Colorado State

North Texas

Arkansas

Arkansas St

 

Big 10/ East (Indiana & Michigan drops)

Michigan State

Louisville

Northwestern

Minnesota

Wisconsin

Illinois

Purdue

Cincinnati

Ohio State

Notre Dame

West Virginia

Ball State

 

Feeder

Indiana

Michigan

W Michigan

Central Michigan

N Illinois

E Michigan

Akron

Ohio

Miami (OH)

Toledo

Kent State

An appropriate I-AA team

 

BCS: Pac-10 (Washington drops)

USC

Oregon

Oregon State

California

Arizona

Stanford

Arizona State

UCLA

Washington State

Boise State

Utah

Brigham Young

 

Feeder

Washington

Fresno State

San Jose State

Utah State

NM State

Idaho

Hawaii

Nevada

UNLV

New Mexico

Wyoming

San Diego State

 

BCS- SEC (Miss St drops)

Florida

Georgia

Vanderbilt

South Carolina

Tennessee  

Kentucky

Alabama

Mississippi

LSU

Auburn

Miami (FL)

Troy

 

Feeder-

Southern Miss

Memphis

Tulane

Western Kentucky

Bowling Green

Louisiana Lafayette

Middle Tennessee State

Louisiana Monroe

Louisiana Tech

Mississippi St

Florida Atlantic

Florida International

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