I am not a huge fan of BCS debates. It has some bright spots and it has some pitfalls, but I don’t think anyone is purposely screwing anyone else. What I would accuse some of the bowl folks of is holding too tightly to tradition.
I’ve always thought that the purpose of a college football season isn’t necessarily to crown a national champion, but at the same time I agree a playoff system over the current BCS would be lucrative and compelling for fans. In my mind, the playoffs in college football start in late August – lose one and you’re out. If a team goes undefeated and is favored by 25 points in their toughest conference game, sorry that doesn’t cut it.
For those that want to crown a national champion and knock the BCS, keep in mind that this system is a huge improvement over the pre-BCS bowl system. If this was 2002, TCU would be looking at a trip to the Humanitarian Bowl.
Everybody has a plan for a better BCS, and quite frankly it is easy to poke holes in a lot of the proposals you see from fans, bloggers, writers, etc. My favorite proposed system is the Mandel Plan from Sports Illustrated‘s Stewart Mandel, which is basically a plus-one system. I love the plus-one system and I think the logistics of having a playoff of more than four teams is too tough while playing within the rules of university presidents.
Looking forward at the current system, remember that a lot of the issues with logjams of 1 and 2 loss teams will go away with the Pac10 and Big Ten joining the ranks of 12-team superconferences. I think another great step would be requiring the SEC, ACC, and Big XII to play 9 game conference schedules like the Pac10 does now and the Big Ten plans to do.
Speaking of 9 game schedules, this would eliminate the dreaded FCS-opponent game (insert Michigan/Ole Miss joke here). There is NOTHING that raises my blood pressure like talking about top-flight programs scheduling FCS schools. From a business perspective, I fully understand why Athletic Directors do it ($), but this is something that needs to be stopped for the fans. There’s nothing like getting season tickets in the mail an pulling off the Northern Colorado State set – I’m looking at you Michigan State. (On second thought, it’s hard to complain as a Spartan fan with future series against Notre Dame, Alabama, West Virginia, South Florida and Boise State)
On the note of FCS schools – those little guys could play a HUGE role in the Big Ten race this year. Scenario: Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State win out at 11-1 overall and 7-1 in conference play. Let’s go to the tiebreakers:
- Head-to-head: MSU beat Wisconsin, Wisconsin beat OSU, OSU and MSU didn’t play. Next:
- Overall record: All the same – but wait: Wisconsin’s win over Austin Peay and MSU’s win over Northern Colorado State don’t count because they are FCS schools. OSU didn’t schedule an FCS team. That makes OSU 11-1, MSU 10-1 and UW 10-1
So Ohio State would go to the Rose Bowl. Like I said before, I understand the business reasons for scheduling FCS teams, but wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants for MSU and Wisconsin? Makes those games seem silly, instead of beating up on another MAC/WAC/Sun Belt team and getting credit for the FBS win.
I’m a Big Ten guy – that’s an upfront disclaimer on the blog and I feel like we’re very reasonable about our bias here. It is shocking how much the national media craps on the Big Ten (this happens in basketball too). I think it is at least partially because of the Big Ten Network, but that’s a different talk for a different day. It is automatic that the conference’s teams are shown in a darker light. Case and point:
-Michigan State beats Wisconsin. ESPN says “The Badgers aren’t that good. Overrated!”
-LSU beats Alabama. ESPN says, “LSU is better than we thought! Darkhorse to win the SEC West?”
I’ll cover this in another post but, not having a conference title game and squeaking two teams into the BCS has certainly hurt the conference’s perception (while helping the pocketbooks) by forcing teams to essentially play up a level. Also remember the Big Ten teams in the last bowl alignment were almost always playing “road” games just based on the geography of conferences.
Back to ESPN. Did anyone catch the BCS show last Sunday. Awful. Just embarrassing for ESPN (Robert Smith – I don’t have time to get into the issues). Can anyone explain to me how every analyst (even Herbstreit) on that show couldn’t articulate the Big Ten tiebreak scenarios? Indisputably a top three conference nationally, only conference with four teams in the top 16 – and you didn’t bother to look at the tie breakers to qualify a team for the freaking ROSE BOWL. It’s not like they didn’t talk about it (though ESPN, per usual, minimized the Big Ten content) THREE of the analysts flat out got the tiebreakers wrong – on national TV.
Obviously as an MSU fan, I have a new-found interest in the intricacies of the BCS! The biggest facet that is disappointing for me having a team in the race is the human polls putting a bias on when you lose. Basically if you look at Michigan State’s conference schedule and re-arrange the games, placing the Iowa loss at the beginning of the season while keeping the same outcomes, I think they would have a higher ranking.
For as much complaining as you hear about the system, there certainly is a lot of excitement and discussion around the football season. This is just another 1,000 words to prove that fact.