Monday, August 15, 2005

'Doctor Sauce' Takes on the BCS

College Football is my favorite sport. Future heroes playing in the settings of the past's most stalwart and storied traditions, rivalries, and venues. While the names and faces changes, not much else changes in College Football from year to year. In fact almost nothing does.

The desire to keep a status quo in College Football, while the source of many great things about the sport, is also the source of its major flaw. The lack of a valid method of determining a National Champion.

Assuming you are a college football fan, you are familiar with its postseason system. For a more extensive history read History of the BCS from the BCS Official Site (it's objective, sure, just leaves out a few details)but basically from World War II to 1990, only nine times did the No. 1 and No. 2 teams play each other in a bowl game. In an effort to correct this, The Bowl Coalition was formed. The Bowl Coalition preserved conference ties to bowl games (SEC-Sugar, Southwest-Cotton, Big 8-Orange, the Rose refused to participate leaving the Big 10 and Pac 10 out of the Bowl Coalition) but stated that in the event the Big East, ACC (Miami and Florida State had joined those conferences respectively that year) champion or Notre Dame were the No. 1 or No. 2 team they would be automatically be sent to the bowl of the other No. 1 or No. 2 team to create a National Championship Game. As with all the BC-whatever arrangements it worked its first year as No. 1 Miami went to the Sugar Bowl and lost to No. 2 Alabama in the 1992 Sugar Bowl.

Of course the Bowl Coalition imploded in 1994 when Penn State went undefeated beating Oregon in the Rose Bowl but was voted No. 2 in both polls to Nebraska, because they were sent to the Rose Bowl as the Big Ten Champion outside of The Bowl Coalition.

Replaced by The Bowl Alliance, the Rose Bowl, Big Ten, and Pac Ten refused to be included. The difference between The Bowl Alliance and The Bowl Coalition was that conference-bowl arrangements were dissolved and the Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange Bowls selected from a pool of the Big East, ACC, SEC, Big 8, Southwest champions and Notre Dame (in case you were wondering, Notre Dame was still in the elite of college football at this time).

The Bowl Alliance was not exposed until 1997 when No. 1 and undefeated Michigan won a close Rose Bowl against Washington State, while No. 2 Nebraska beat Florida 42-17. The result is Michigan winning the AP National Championship and Nebraska winning the coaches poll. A split national championship brings reform to pretty much what we have now.

The Bowl Championship Series is an agreement with four bowls (Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, Rose) and six conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big Twelve, Pac Ten, SEC). The No. 1 and No. 2 teams, determined by the BCS Rankings, play in whichever bowl is designated the national championship game that year. As a condition to agreeing to their inclusion in the BCS, the Rose Bowl gets the Big Ten and/or Pac Ten champions whenever a) the Rose is not the National Championship and b) the Big Ten and/or Pac Ten champions are not the No. 1 or No. 2 teams in the BCS Rankings. After determining the top two teams, the three other bowls in the Series select between the four other conference champions and two at-large teams, usually the top ranking teams in the BCS rankings.

While admittedly, the BCS has allowed the consensus best team in the country to win its national championship (except for 2004 when USC and LSU both went undefeated and split the championship), the BCS is flawed in many ways:

1)Rarely are the TWO best teams clearly defined by the time bowl participants are selected. For example, while USC was clearly the No. 1 team in the country, their blowout win over Oklahoma and Auburn's win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, capping an undefeated season, seems to imply that Auburn should have been in the Orange Bowl over Oklahoma. That's not to say Auburn would have beaten Oklahoma but USC's Championship did not come over the second best team in the country last year.

2)The BCS System and the BCS Rankings are heavily skewed towards the six conferences participating. Only once has a team outside of the six 'BCS Conferences' made a BCS bowl, that being Utah last year who went undefeated including wins over BCS Conference opponents and still barely qualified to go to the Fiesta Bowl, the lowest bowl on the tier that year.

Teams from the Mid-American, Conference USA, Mountain West, Western Athletic, and Sun Belt, or nearly 40 percent of all Division I-A College Football programs have a minimal chance to make a BCS bowl and just about no shot at its National Championship. The Division 1-B schools are irrelevant in college football except to provide non-conference home-and-home series with the larger schools.

While you could argue and be right that these schools, in general, are inferior to their BCS conference counterparts, the BCS creates a glass ceiling for schools like Utah, Fresno State, Boise State, and Bowling Green. It's hard to go into the living room of the best high school running back in Florida touting your three straight Liberty Bowl appearances. The result is a consolidation in talent to schools in the BCS and the consolidation of schools defecting from Non-BCS Conferences to BCS Conferences (e.g. Louisville, Cincinnati, and South Florida join the Big East this year replacing Boston College and Temple as Boston College is joining the more competitive ACC this year).

3)The dependency on polls and computer rankings. 2/3 of the BCS rankings are determined by two polls. Formerly the AP poll and ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. Both polls originated before the season started, when nobody really knows anything, as I will prove on Friday. The AP poll is comprised of college football writers from across the country and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll is a survey of the country's college football coaches. Frustrated by the AP's tendency to vote for a seperate national champion than determined by the Bowl Championship Coalition/Alliance/Series, the BCS dropped the AP poll and replaced it with the Harris College Football Interactive Poll, a more blue-ribbon type panel poll which will not be released until October to avoid preseason influence. ESPN this past spring removed its name from the Coaches poll after the coaches refused to make their votes public, raising a sniff of intraconference back-scratching corruption. The other third is a combination of computer rankings by Jeff Sagarin, Anderson & Hester, Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey and Dr. Peter Wolfe. Who they are and what their rankings consist of has never been revealed clearly to anyone. I think Billingsley ranks colleges on the willingness of their sorority girls to put out, but that's just a rumor.

So you see the problem, almost confidential computer rankings, confidential coaches polls, and a panel selected by the BCS determine two teams to compete for a National Championship when many times three, four, or zero teams are more worthy than others, more than a third of teams in the country are on the outside looking in and on top of everything IT'S BORING....compared to basketball's March Madness and Doctor Sauce's idea:

The Bowl Championship Tournament

1)Three conferences (ACC, Big XII, SEC) send the winners of their conference championship games automatically into the tournament.

2)The three other conferences (Big East, Big Ten, Pac Ten) send their regular season champions to play-in games the week of the conference championship games.

Big East Champion vs. Division 1-A Independent Best Record (apparently Doctor Sauce still cries at the end of 'Rudy')

Pac Ten Champion vs. Mountain West Champion or Western Athletic Champion

Big Ten Champion vs. Conference USA or Mid-American Champion.

3)The Sunday after the conference championships and BCT play-in games, the field for the Bowl Championship Tournament including the winners of the six games and two at-large teams are seeded and announced.

4)BCT games are played at a rotation of Miami (Orange Bowl), New Orleans (Sugar Bowl), Glendale (Fiesta Bowl), and Pasadena. With Pasadena getting the first BCT Championship Game and called the Rose Bowl.

5)Four quarterfinals are played at two sites on New Year's Day. Two semifinals at another site a week from the Saturday after New Year's Day. The National Championship is played at the last site a week from the semifinals.

6)All other bowls remain unchanged, Doctor Sauce would never attempt to eliminate colored blazers under any circumstances.

7)The 11-game schedule is permanent, no expansion of a 12th game.

8)The Sun Belt is dropped to Division 1-AA, sorry North Texas.

9)A 10 year moritorium on college football program conference movement

The result is four teams playing one more college football week and two teams playing two more weeks. All before the end of semester break. The essence of the Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, and Rose Bowls in tact with even more fans coming down to boost those city's tourism pockets. Conference Champions protected and outstanding regular seasons rewarded and the most exciting three weeks of the year. Ahhhhh....The Pagaentry! Doctor Sauce can't wait!


At 9:59 PM , Anonymous The Zero said...

If only Doctor Sauce had written such rousing analysis in college, perhaps he'd be working for ESPN the Magazine by now!

At 7:52 AM , Blogger Paul said...

Derek's system is terrible:
1) How did he determine which three conferences get the first round byes? Will it be the same every year? What if the best team comes from a weak conference, such as when the Big East had Miami and Va Tech in three straight title games? And in this format USC would have to play an extra game every year even though they are clearly the best team.

2) The tournament field is determined by the three byes, and the winners of the prelim games as well as two other at large teams. Can a loser of a play-in game still make it as an at-large? Say Boise State is undefeated but loses to USC in a play-in game.

3) You can't play two football games in the same stadium on the same day. Its hard to keep the field in good shape. They wouldn't want to give up the separate admissions and it would be a very long day for fans. And doing it as two separate admissions would be logistically impossible.

4) Derek and Smist love pageantry.

5) Last year in college basketball, UNC and Illinois played in the title game and everyone was overjoyed because the two best teams played each other. Wow, imagine a sport that had a system to ensure that the top two teams always played each for the championship.

At 1:34 PM , Blogger Pizza Parlor Derek said...

1)Conferences with Championship Games got the automatic slots as they are the three largest conferences. USC plays a shit conference it's not too much to have them play the MWC or WAC winner to justify their place. (rarely will the MWC and WAC champions be undefeated like they were last year)

2)Any team can get the two spots, the losers of the play-in games or conf. championship games. Players get hurt, teams get screwed by bad calls, shit happens, if they are one of the eight best teams they should have the right to play for the national championship plain and simple.

3)Two games in one venue on one day may be a pipedream, but maybe a Thursday & Saturday arrangement can be done to resod fields. Or we can include three more venues.

4)Who's Smist?

5)College Football doesn't have Vermont, West Virginia-Wake Forest or anything else that makes March Madness great, they have this cockamamie system that will always make people wonder if they have a legit champion each year.


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