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BCS Inequities and Solutions

 

By Elliot Schwartz (Guest Insider)

 

Every now and then in the world of sports, something happens which compels me to write articles.  Thank goodness, Adam was kind enough to allow me to place my thoughts here at the WIS Insider.

 

This weekend, we bore witness to sheer chaos in the world of Division 1A college football.  During the week leading up to the games this past weekend, the so-called experts were asked what would happen if USC were to lose to UCLA.  They all said pretty much the same things. “USC will never lose to UCLA.  Pete Carroll is 20-0 in November (forgetting that the game was played in December); USC has scored 20+ points in 63 straight games.  UCLA is a marginal team at best, and Pete Carroll will have the Trojans ready for UCLA.  But if they do lose, it will be a free for all!!”  Well….  Florida was the recipient of the free ticket to the BCS Championship game to play the Ohio State Buckeyes.  Everyone who watches or takes an interest in college football is almost uniformly in agreement that the BCS does not work.  Well, it works…   sometimes.  My analogy is that it works like a broken clock.  It will be right when the situations surrounding it allow it to be right.  Then and only then will it be right.  So, a broken clock will be right for 2 minutes of a 1440 minute day, and the BCS will be right when there are exactly, and I mean EXACTLY two unbeaten teams from major conferences or when there are EXACTLY two 1 loss teams from major conferences.  Other than that….  Welcome controversy. 

 

Let’s look into the history of the BCS, shall we?  The BCS was brought into existence after the 1997 season.  In January 1998, Michigan & Nebraska were both undefeated with Michigan holding the #1 spot in the polls over Nebraska.  Michigan squeaked past Washington State in the Rose Bowl, while Nebraska crushed Tennessee 42-17 in the Orange Bowl.  The coaches (in a seeming tip of the cap to retiring Tom Osborne) voted Nebraska #1 in the coaches’ poll, while the writers maintained Michigan atop the AP poll.  After that turn of events, you can understand why everyone was in favor of the BCS.  In theory, at least.   The BCS was supposed to clarify and define the champion of NCAA Football.  But in this, the 9th season of the BCS, there have been more split decisions than unanimous ones.  In the first BCS championship game, undefeated Tennessee played and beat Florida State 23-16.  However, there were three other 1-loss teams who could have staked claim to play in the national championship game: Kansas State, UCLA & Ohio State.  The #4 Buckeyes beat up on #6 Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl, while UCLA & Cade McNown lost to #9 Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.  #3 Kansas State was not even invited to a BCS game, while #15 Syracuse lost in the Orange Bowl to Florida.   Not such a great start, but believe me…  it gets worse.  Two years later, Oklahoma completed a perfect season, beating Florida State 13-2 in the National Championship game.  Again, there was more than one 1-loss team to face mighty OU.  In fact one of the 1 loss teams (Miami) actually BEAT Florida State.  But somehow, the BCS ignored that fact and allowed Florida State into the National Championship Game.  So what happened to the other two 1-loss teams that season, you ask?  Miami ripped Florida 37-20, and Washington beat up Purdue 34-24 in the Sugar and Rose Bowl respectively.  Want more?  Here we go!

 

The next year, Miami was the dominant team.  They went into the Championship game undefeated.  They went up against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.  Nebraska came into the game sort of on a low.  I mean they were clobbered by Colorado in the Big 12 Championship game.  Oregon was another 1 loss team who thought they should have a chance to play “The U”.  But Colorado with TWO LOSSES incredibly was ranked ahead of Oregon as well in the BCS.  So, Nebraska lost by 23 to Miami, while Oregon rolled Colorado 38-16 in the Fiesta Bowl.  Jump ahead two seasons…  USC finishes the regular season ranked #1 in both the Coaches and AP polls.  However, they are not included in the BCS National Championship game.  Classic.  Absolutely classic.  LSU plays Oklahoma, and beats them 21-14, while USC beats Michigan 28-14 in the Rose Bowl and is anointed National Champion.  No one (except for some players and family at LSU) even remembers that USC did not win the BCS National Championship that season.  The next season, Auburn goes through the entire SEC schedule unblemished.  BUT….  They were ranked third behind two other undefeated teams in USC & Oklahoma.  And they watched USC dismantle Oklahoma 55-19.  Now, we have Gator-gate. 

 

My father always told me not to complain about something, and bring up a problem unless you have a solution.  So, here is my solution.  We have a playoff system instituted (I know…  original).  But this system is a little different, and would allow for many things that most other proposed systems would not allow for.

 

I think we should keep the BCS ranking system.  It will give us the foundation for the seedings in the playoff system.  We take the top 10 teams in the BCS rankings, and the two highest ranked teams in the coaches’ poll who are not in the top 10 of the BCS as wildcards to fill out brackets.  So, the top 10 of the BCS rankings this season are: Ohio State, Florida, Michigan, LSU, USC, Louisville, Wisconsin, Boise State, Auburn & Oklahoma.  The two teams most highly ranked by the coaches poll who are not in the top 10 of the BCS standings are Notre Dame & West Virginia.  Those would be the 12 teams in the BCS National Championship playoffs.  The only controversy might be that Arkansas was the #12 BCS team and West Virginia #13 BCS team, and we got West Virginia into the playoff based on the coaches’ wildcard.  Hardly a controversy at all.  The top 4 teams (Ohio State, Florida, Michigan & LSU) get byes into the second weekend.  Teams 5-12 face off in 4 games.  There will be 11 total playoff games over 23 days.  The playoff games would be actual bowl games, so the bowls as we know them stay in tact.

 

The first weekend’s games would be the (All former bowl names in parenthesis):  Champs Sports Bowl (Tangerine Bowl), Liberty Bowl, Alamo Bowl & Chick-Fil-A Bowl (Peach Bowl).  They are played 2 on December 9th and 2 on December 10th.  These bowls rotate which matchup they host.  In year 1 the Liberty Bowl would host the 5-12 matchup, then 6-11, then 7-10, then 8-9 and so on.  So this year, West Virginia would play USC in the Champs Sports Bowl, Notre Dame would face Louisville in the Liberty Bowl, Oklahoma & Wisconsin face off in the Alamo Bowl, while Auburn & Boise State tangle in the Peach Bowl (I cant call it that other silly name).  I will call the winners (since it is my column, I can do that.)  USC 33  West Virginia 16, Notre Dame 29  Louisville 24, Oklahoma 20 Wisconsin 10, Auburn 38  Boise State 20.  So, with those results now in, #5 USC, #9 Auburn, #10 Oklahoma & #11 Notre Dame advanced to the next round.

 

The next weekend’s games would be the Capital One Bowl (Citrus Bowl), Cotton Bowl, Gator Bowl & Fiesta Bowl.  The games take place 2 on December 16th and 2 on December 17th.  The matchups rotate like in the previous round’s games.  #1 Ohio State takes on #11 Notre Dame in the Capital One Bowl, #2 Florida takes on #10 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, #3 Michigan takes on #9 Auburn in the Gator Bowl, and #4 LSU takes on #5 USC in the Fiesta Bowl.  With Ohio State’s 38-13 drubbing of Notre Dame, they advance.  Florida makes all kinds of mistakes, but beats Oklahoma on a bad officiating call (sorry OU fans…  had to do that) 21-20.  Michigan & Auburn fight to the death, but Michigan comes out with a hard fought 20-17 win.  USC beats LSU 23-10.

 

The next weekend’s games would be the Orange Bowl & the Sugar Bowl.  The games take place one each on December 23rd and 24th.  Ohio State would play USC in the Orange Bowl, while Florida and Michigan tangled in the Sugar Bowl in Nawlins.  Ohio State beats USC 34-19 to get to the Championship game, while……    I’ll let you guys decide whether Florida or Michigan should get to the Championship game.

 

Just know that the Championship game will always be the grand daddy of them all.  It will always be the Rose Bowl.  And it will always be on New Years Day.  And it will always be for all the marbles.  I know that playoff systems are thought of for college football all the time, but this system allows for the continuation of the BCS to mean something, and allows the bowls to still rake in all the money, and we still finish ON TIME.  I cannot see a loser here.  Oh yeah….  Controversy.  It loses.  Completely.

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