College College Football

Long Live The BCS

You can thank the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. You can thank Don Myers. You can thank Sunkist. Hell, you can even thank Penn State and Miami. The highest rated game in the history of college football put the BCS on the map and controversy on the horizon.

For the past 6-8 years, teams from non-BCS conferences have started to make some noise: Utah, Boise State, BYU, Hawaii and TCU for the most part.  These teams have started to match the perennial powers of college football and even win against them. These teams are so intimidating that 2 teams from non-BCS conferences were ranked in the top 6 for the first time in BCS existence. Are they deserving of such a ranking? Perhaps.  And to a lot of college coaches, preseason rankings are irrelevant, and for the most part they are correct. The BCS conferences flux during the season; rarely do a handful of teams run the tables.

However, a non-BCS conference team such as this year’s Boise State and TCU are very likely to go undefeated. The competition of their respective conferences is somewhat pitiful. This means for these teams, preseason rankings are everything. Boise has a clear path to the national title game, as does TCU. No BCS conference team can say that.

The progress achieved by these non-BCS teams has made some people advocate a playoff system of the top 4, 8, or 16 teams (pretty much falling in line with the enormously popular March Madness). It is a plausible system for sure, one that is probably a little more fair to everyone (let’s see TCU beat Ohio State and Texas in consecutive weeks). It seems that it is gaining a lot of momentum as BCS teams feel their thunder is being stolen by the smaller teams from “lesser” conferences. The fans and media would eat it up. All systems point to go, right? Unfortunately to some, it probably won’t happen anytime soon. (Excluding myself, I feel the BCS does a wonderful job. When is the last time when the national title wasn’t played for by the two teams that deserved it? Exactly, they got it right every year. The other games, maybe they screwed up but no prizes for second place so nobody really cares.)

Everyone knows the main reason as to why a playoff system is unlikely. Money talks. The BCS schools create tremendous revenue from their BCS tie-ins. They are the most powerful group of teams and will always get paid regardless of outcome. But there are other reasons that complicate matters.

  1. Money Talks. Enough Said.
  2. Longevity of Season.

A playoff system would result in the top teams playing an extra 2-4 games  under the current system. That’s more money that is lost in traveling, hotels, preparation, etc. I would find it hard to believe the schools would get paid the large stipend per game that the BCS games currently generate. Instead it would be distributed throughout the series of games. Law of Diminishing Returns people.

3. Scheduling Conflict

Regular season goes to the end of November, and the bowl games start post-Christmas for the most part. For this playoff system to work, the games would have to be started immediately following the conclusion of the regular season. This creates the next couple problems.

4. STUDENT-athlete

People fail to remember these kids go to school when not on the football player. They are not professionals, do not get paid like professionals and thus we shouldn’t expect them to act like professionals. In December, schools offer Final Exams, and the players need that time to study (yeah that’s right, instead of sleeping through STAT 101, some kids actually study) for their courses. The playoff system would severely hinder that, and destroy what college is supposed to bring. They would be in essence, athletes before students. I don’t care if your democrat, republican, fascist, white, black, yellow, tall or small; depriving these students of that educational opportunity is ETHICALLY wrong.

5. Religious Holidays

We all are well aware of the religious traditions of late December. You got Hanukah and Christmas. The playoff system would probably have to run through these respective holidays. So you got a few decisions here to make. Either schools let their kids go home for the holidays in midst of a national championship game, or they don’t allow them to go home. The first option has the University losing out; the second option has the athlete losing. In light of that, you can just not have a playoff system and keep the BCS. A little more convenient you think?

6. Eligibility

Let’s say the playoff system allows for players to go home for the holidays. They return the first Monday and play a Friday night semi-final game (no one would ever agree to play the national championship as the first game following the return from break). No problem right? Actually that’s fine; it’s the next week that becomes a problem. By the time the national championship game comes around, all BCS schools would have started their spring academic semesters. This is not a problem, but kids graduate early, athletes in particular. So it becomes a problem because at the start of the semester immediately following their graduation, they are no longer enrolled and their eligibility is voided. Who is to say, “Sorry you busted your ass for 7 months but you can’t be part of this cause you went to class and did what you were supposed to do?”

7. Nothing Is Perfect

8. So Live With It

***Note: I would love to hear feedback both positive and negative. Feel free to criticize, I don’t take things personally. Also feel free to leave your own ideas and thoughts. Thanks for reading.

5 replies on “Long Live The BCS”

I’m not buying the student athlete argument. Kids who play D1 in a big time program barely even take their own tests. Sure, there are exceptions like Myron Rolle but the vast majority are there as an audition for the NFL. Notice I said big time programs — which are the only ones a playoff system would affect.

I agree with Vin…intriguing article…well-written, well-argued points. BUT, even student-athletes at my school, one of the worst programs in D-1 college football (Wash. State Univ.) are here to play football and party. I promise, less than 10% of our football team actually cares about academics. They got a free path to college, they are used to losing, and they are here to have fun. The playoff system would realistically go just a couple weeks past…The whole kitten kaboodle would be finished before the normal BCS Championship game is usually played. And I would loveeee to see Boise St. or TCU try to knock off 2 major conference teams in a row…now THAT would be earning a national title!

Vin…i dont necessarily disargree. It would be hard to argue that any large portion of college football players are actually interested in an education. what i was going for was more of we shouldnt take away the opportunity. im not sure how true this is but i have read multiple times that 75-80% of nfl players are broke 3-5 years out of the league. what message would we be sending if we just played football throughout that period of finals, where some colleges have test scores represent 20% of a final grade. I think you would see that nfl percentage rise upwards to 85-90%. appreciate the thoughts…

JDWC…agreed on the BSU/TCU comment. appreciate the thoughts as well.

Blue and White: Good article, it’s an argument or at least a conversation between any CFB fans. I played D-1 sports at an SEC school so I have a decent understanding on some of these things, my two cents:

Your thought on spending money on the extra games: The conferences actually front a lot of that money for the traveling and such expenses and one of those playoff games would be close to a BCS payout. Now imagine 2-3 of those.
   The scheduling conflict comes down to either chopping off a couple non-conf. games or extending the entire season. Coaches, programs and conferences would all bill for the latter.
     On the student-athlete front: While they are students first they are also the face of the school, hence, they should act like professionals especially considering how one carries thyself can affect draft status as well as bonus money. I.E: The New England Patriots. And with the December finals, they are taken the first week of December, after the regular season and before the Bowl Season. No conflict dispute.
    With religious holidays and the X-Mas Break: Accepting a bowl invitation is optional.

And a former S-A, you only get 3 weeks instead of 5. You accept the responsibilities when you sign your L.O.I.
   With your eligibility point: The playoff system would never be all-encompassing as March Madness is. Simple 4-8, maybe 16 (though doubtful.) Therefore the rollover into Spring won’t happen, bc then you run into NCAA violations and hindering early freshman progress. 4 or 8 team playoff. That’s all.
   And lastly, in rebuttal to your own comment: Though you might also be right, the 75-80% becoming broke within 3-5 years is actually a Pro Basketball stat. Fact. And money management has exactly nothing to do with Biology 420. The fact remains: The majority of Professional Athletes are African American and that lack of MM is a direct result of upbringing. Not saying White athletes don’t have similar problems, you just honestly never hear of them going bankrupt. Short List: Jamarcus Russell (already broke), Antonio Cromartie (asked for half of his salary up front for financial reasons), other sports: Scottie Pippen, Tyson, Holyfield, Ricky Williams. The list could go on. It is what it is.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *