Team A: Record 8-0, Average Score 49.75-20.5 Best win: At number 15 team in the country.
Team B: Record 8-0, Average Score 46.63-16.13 Best win: at number 13 team in the country.
Team C: Record 8-0, Average Score 36.75-9.13 Best win: home against number 14 team in the country.
Team D: Record 8-0, Average Score 25.25-9.25 Best win: home against the number 19 team in the country.
Team E: Record 8-0, Average Score 42.63-27.38 Best win: home against the number 23 team in the country
Which two of these teams should play for the national championship?
Unfortunately for sports fans, college football does not have a playoff system. This is like reading a Stephen King novel, getting to the end and realizing the last chapter had been ripped out of the book. Not having a playoff leaves a system to determine the two best teams in college football to meet for the national championship. The argument I have with this is threefold, first the best two teams are often not matched up in this game, secondly that a playoff system would not harm the integrity of college sports, and thirdly that this year we could be headed for BCS chaos which only goes to show further problems with the system.
Since the year 2000 there has been one controversy free championship pairing. How can college football call their system fair when two teams with the same record are separated by computer based polls which emphasize different things? The perfect example of the problems with computers popped up in 2001. That season saw undefeated Miami win the national championship, however the question involved their opponent. Nebraska, which did not even win their division, never mind their conference, was given the #2 slot based on computer polls which emphasize numbers over actual play, over Pac-10 conference champion Oregon. This was a case where though the most deserving team likely won the national championship, there is no way of knowing how Oregon would have fared against Miami. It is possible that there would have been a different outcome. More proof of the travesties which take place in determining the top two teams can be taken from last year’s Auburn Tigers. Auburn ran the table going 13-0; however they could not crack the championship game because both Oklahoma and USC also went undefeated. How can college football justify a system where even though you have never lost you cannot play for a national championship?
A playoff system seems like a simple solution to the problems which are afflicting college football. Typically at the end of the season there are one or two teams who justifiably feel that they have been robbed by the BCS. These problems could be eliminated by having a four team playoff. Having a short playoff such as this would also alleviate the concerns of the heads of collegiate institutions because it clearly could be completed over the winter break, allowing student-athletes to finish their season without missing more classes. Another argument, probably the most ridiculous, to come from the institutions involved is that having a playoff would eliminate the relevance of the rest of the bowls. It would seem that the rest of the bowls are already irrelevant to the determination of a national champion considering that was the BCS’s entire purpose!
As to the third point, this year it seems clear that controversy awaits yet again. As of October 30th, five teams sit undefeated; Alabama, Texas, UCLA, USC and Virginia Tech all have reasonable claims to the national title. These five teams were listed at the beginning of this article as to their statistical prowess. They are also listed in the order of their current BCS standing. The numbers used to determine the BCS standings, are based 2/3 on human polls and 1/3 on statistics like strength of schedule. This system relegates college football to a place below the rest of the major sports in this country. In most sports, at the end of the season there is a clear champion and everyone knows who the best team is. However, this year it seems destined that there will be at least three undefeated teams for the second straight year. Texas does not play another top 25 team this year. USC and UCLA close the regular season against each other, which makes you feel that one of them will end up undefeated. Virginia Tech plays their toughest games at home until the ACC Championship, but they have been playing so dominantly it is hard to picture them losing. The final undefeated, Alabama is most likely to lose still having two major rivals, LSU and Auburn to deal with before playing either Florida or Georgia in the SEC championship. So even though there are a maximum of four undefeated teams left in the country, it has seemed exceedingly likely that three will finish undefeated. So who should play in the national championship game?
Take a look back to the beginning of the article and compare the data on the five undefeated teams, who do you think should face off? Going by raw numbers based from the section up top I will now provide the national championship match up using three different criteria. Some people feel that a great team will blow out inferior competition, so using the largest margin of victory as my criteria Team A would face off with Team B. Some feel that great teams play great offense, using this criteria alone Team A would again face Team B. Meanwhile, if defense is the true measure of a champion Team C would face Team D. These match-ups would be Texas (Team B) vs. USC (Team A), Texas vs. USC and Virginia Tech (Team C) vs. Alabama (Team D). Team E is UCLA. The purpose of this is to realize that who the best team is shifts by your criteria and that the only way to come to a true consensus is to let the teams battle it out on the field.
In life, it is often difficult to figure out who is the best at something. However, when an opportunity to do so with so little difficulty presents itself, why shouldn’t college football officials jump at the opportunity? The problems that exist in the BCS are as clear as Casper the friendly Ghost. Why doesn’t college football step up and fix the problems with a band-aid before the wound is re-opened? Apparently we will never find out the complex answer to this simple question. So until December, enjoy the season… just remember yours may be the team who gets ripped off this year.
One reply on “BCS: The Bane of College Sports”
Great introduction Your introduction is unique and it is something I have not read yet. (unlike the rest of your article)