The BCS Needs Fixing

We all know the BCS is going to be controversial come December, so why not write about it now?

The BCS has been around for over a decade.  Before the BCS, the Pac-10 and Big 10 champion always played each other in the Rose Bowl, and because of this, it meant that the two highest ranked teams at the end of the season were not always playing one another in the national title game.  To change this, the BCS was created, where a system mixing polls and computer rankings was created to find the two “best” teams in the country to play each other on one glorious night to establish one national champion.

Of course, we all know this has worked out just as well as Jon and Kate’s marriage.  In the majority of the years since the BCS was created, there has been a controversy over the two teams placed by the system into the national title game.  As we all know, last year was a particularly good example of why the BCS is such a terrible system, with Utah and Boise State finishing the regular season undefeated and Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, Alabama, Florida, Penn State, and USC all having one loss and all feeling as if they belonged in the title game.

One thing last year the perfect example of why the BCS is a failure comes from the Big 12, where we all remember that Oklahoma beat Texas Tech, who beat Texas, who beat Oklahoma, and that all three had one loss.  They all had a legitimate reason for believing they belonged in the title game (although most recognize that Texas Tech was not as good as the other two, beating Texas on a series of fluke plays before being blown out by Oklahoma), and in the end, Oklahoma was selected to the title game, where they would lose to Florida.

This year, it is obviously yet to be determined what kind of BCS problem we will have.  Maybe it will be like the problem of 2008, or maybe it won’t be a problem like it was during the 2005 season, when two and only two BCS conference teams finished undefeated (Texas and USC.)  Still, even if the BCS works once in a while, it doesn’t work all of the time (or even half the time), and it’s time to finally fix this.  It’s time for a playoff.  I’m saying this even though I realize a playoff is likely to never happen, but college football absolutely, positively needs a playoff.

The playoff, a fixture in American sports, is used to determine the title winner of everything, except, of course, the champion of NCAA D1 FBS football.   Even all of the other NCAA football divisions use it, everyone but the FBS.  Of course, there’s a reason for this, since if everyone agreed that a playoff was the best option, we would have it.

The reason why a playoff doesn’t exist is because the college presidents of BCS schools don’t want one.  They like the BCS.  It guarantees them a ton of money, with no team having to play more than one game.  It makes it hard for non-BCS conference schools to get involved, and thus take away from the money for BCS conference schools.  It insures that the season ends right before the start of the spring semester of college, meaning less practice and travel time for athletes.  However, there are arguments to be made against these key reasons why college presidents want to keep the BCS.

In terms of money, the BCS presidents love that they make so much off of one game, but with a playoff, there will still be tons of interest, great TV ratings, and more games, meaning more money.  With a playoff, college football’s postseason would rival the greatness of the NCAA basketball tournament, and it surely would be a huge cash win for all of the college presidents.  In reality, this should entice college presidents towards supporting a playoff.

In terms of non-BCS conference schools, it’s about time to give them a shot of winning a national title.  Utah probably would not have won the title last year, as I doubt they would have beat Florida or Oklahoma, but the regular season they had means they deserved a shot, which would make college football a whole lot more fair (and is something a playoff would provide.)  Secondly, not only is a playoff the most fair system, but with more postseason games, there would be more profits for the colleges involved.

Thirdly, we’ve heard college presidents give their speeches about how a college playoff would make the academic schedule harder for the players.  This is funny, because they are only using this argument because it’s convenient for them.  I don’t see these same college presidents crying foul about baseball players playing up to five games a week, forcing players to miss the majority of the school week at times.  Football games are played on Saturdays, players can fly out on Friday and barely miss any classes (if any at all.)  Also, the playoff would be during the beginning of the spring semester, which isn’t exactly the most stressful time in the classroom anyway.

Opponents of the BCS are also concerned that a playoff system would take away from the bowls, but this isn’t true at all.  The same bowl games for 7-5 teams will have the same meaning for those involved with a playoff than they are now.  Also, certain bowl games can be mixed into a playoff system.  The first round of a sixteen team playoff can be at the home sites of the highest ranked teams.  I propose sixteen teams, because I feel eight could leave some deserving teams out, although an eight team playoff would be better than none at all.  The quarterfinals would be Fiesta, Sugar, Rose, and Orange Bowls, allowing these bowl games to retain an elite status.  Semifinals and finals are neutral sites.

There it is, a sixteen team playoff.  A true national champion.  Conference champions of the “big six” conferences, ten at-larges determined by a selection committee.  Winners of the small conferences could potentially have a shot.  Lose two early games and then get hot towards the end of the season, and you still have a chance at winning at all.  This is my dream, and this is how college football needs to be.

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