January 10, 2012

BCS Postseason Analysis

If the controversy surrounding the BCS System and college football bowl format, it certainly is the most complex and misunderstood controversy.

The morning after the BCS championship game, here are three talking points:

1 - We're closer than ever to seeing a change in the traditional bowl format.

The 2011 bowl season again proved how difficult it is to sell out every bowl game. This usually results in the participating schools having to eat the cost of those tickets. That trend can't continue.

Playing in a meaningless bowl game actually costs some schools more money than they make by participating in the game. You can read about one instance of this happening here, involving the 2011 Virginia Tech football team, which made it to the Orange Bowl. The school had to eat 9,500 tickets it couldn't sell. They lost a total of $421,000, and it could've been a lot worse.

2 - The BCS isn't the enemy of the playoff system.

In fact, they could actually be really good friends.

I've preached this sermon before, but it deserves a dusting-off. The college football bowl system existed long before the BCS. When you speak of the BCS, you are either referring to the 5 BCS bowl games (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, and BCS Championship) or the way the teams are ranked to determine, in part, who participates in this game.

Eliminating the BCS wouldn't help the 'playoff format' advocates at all. It just means they go back to exclusively using the human polls.

Actually, in 2011/12, the BCS computer rankings favored Oklahoma St. to be in the national championship game over Alabama. The human polls are what tipped the scale favoring Alabama. Just say that to say that the BCS wasn't the problem.

Suppose next season, the NCAA used a playoff format of 8 teams to determine a champion. How would you decide who to include in the playoff? The BCS ranking system would actually be perfect for deciding this, especially teams ranked 5-8. Of course, there are always deserving teams that are left out. That's just life. You can't include everyone....right?

3. The +1 game seems to be the best next step.

This is a common idea that many have put forward in the last 3-4 years as a better way of determining a national champion. The best thing about this method is that it doesn't disrupt anything in the current bowl setup, except that the BCS Championship game would include two teams who had already played in BCS bowl games, unless they played semi-final games outside the bowl system, which is also possible, I suppose.

This gives the feel of a playoff, even though it only involves four teams. Hey, you have to start somewhere.
Do you have a better idea? Let me hear it!