America needs a True College Football Champion
Each year college football players, coaches, and fans alike are robbed from a true champion and this is all due to one flawed ranking system that gives people everywhere a non-stop headache. The BCS (Bowl Championship Series) is a ranking system that creates the five major bowls for NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision teams and it consists of three different ranking systems to ultimately create the BCS standings. The NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision is the only division of any sport to use a system that does not use the classical playoff system to find their best team. Due to this non-traditional ranking system, there have been many years full of flaws in the BCS and this year is no exception. The NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision needs to change their ways of finding America’s true champion, and abolish the current BCS system.
The BCS has now been around for 12 seasons and produced both exciting and controversial games. According to the BCS official website, “It is designed to ensure that the two top-rated teams in the country meet in the national championship game, and to create exciting and competitive match ups among eight other highly regarded teams in four other bowl games.” There can clearly be many arguments towards their statement, especially to the first half of the statement on the national championship game. The controversial system is made up of three different systems, which include the USA Today Coaches Poll, Harris Interactive Poll, and the computer rankings. After the numbers are collected for these three systems, they are averaged out to created the BCS standings. These standings represent the so-called top 25 teams in the nation and map out the five major bowls. Society and sports fans everywhere have a tough time understanding the three systems that make up the BCS, most notably the Harris Interactive Poll and computer rankings are the most controversial.
Of the three factors playing into the BCS, the USA Today Coaches Poll is undoubtedly the easiest to accept. Fans, players and coaches everywhere would agree that coaches of the Football Bowl Subdivision teams clearly know who the nation’s best teams are. One little problem is the fact that every coach has not seen every team play and east coast teams have a tougher time watching west coast teams due to time differences. However, coaches usually trust each other and with today’s technology film is always available. The Harris Interactive Poll is a system that many do not know a lot about and do not completely understand. The first Harris Interactive Poll for the BCS was introduced in 2005 and according to the official Harris Interactive website, the college football poll is made up of 115 panelists of former players, coaches, administrators, and current and former media. These panelists then rank the Division I football teams and the results are added to the BCS. Easily the most confusing part of the BCS standings are the computer rankings. The computer rankings consists of six different computers that are based on different components. A computer’s rankings can be based on wins, home versus road wins, strength of schedule, score, and opponent’s conference. A champion being partly produced by a computer has raised eyebrows from our society.
Many businesses, corporations, and agencies are corrupt due to one reason; money. The BCS fits in the same picture and money is one of the key factors that the push to kill the BCS has hit many walls. The Sports Management Degree website states that in 2008 ESPN and the BCS agreed to a contract that gives ESPN the rights to broadcast the Fiesta, Orange, and Sugar Bowl along with the BCS National Championship game through 2014 starting in 2011. ESPN already had the rights to the Rose Bowl. This contract has ESPN paying the BCS $125 million starting this year through 2014. That is only the beginning of the money system of the BCS, as conferences that are a part of the BCS are earning the big bucks as well. According to the Sports Business Journal, “After the completion of the 2010 college football season, the BCS distributed $142.5 million of revenue from its five bowl games to the 12 conferences and independents in the FBS.” That statistic right there may be nice to the major conferences that are a part of the BCS, but it should be alarming to the sports fan looking to get rid of the BCS system. If the BCS keeps earning money at these rates and conferences keep earning revenue from the BCS, the conferences that are a part of the BCS will not be looking to change the BCS in any way.
A major reason for change being a need in the BCS is the fact that there is automatic qualifying teams and non-automatic qualifying teams. This almost virtually ruins teams like Boise St. and TCU from being in the BCS National Championship game. The official BCS website states that each BCS major bowl game consists of the champion of an automatic qualifying conference, which consists of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and Southeastern Conference. The website also shows that non-automatic qualifying conferences consists of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, and the Western Athletic Conference and can only make a BCS bowl game if the final BCS standings have the team ranked in the top 12 or 16 and are ranked higher than an automatic qualifying conference champion. This year Boise St. was left out of a BCS bowl game again due to a corrupt system. Boise St. was ranked 7th in the final BCS rankings with their only loss being against an 18th ranked TCU, with the final score being 36-35 due to a last second missed field goal by Boise St. However, automatic qualifying conference champions have more loses than Boise St. that are playing in a BCS bowl game and Virginia Tech has two loses and just lost their conference championship game to Clemson 38-10, yet they are in a BCS bowl game. Another year of Boise St. losing out to a BCS game due to a corrupt system is not fair in any way, shape or form.
There have been many different proposed arguments to the BCS that would change the title game to actually get a true champion. ESPN’s Brad Edwards shows ways of fixing the BCS through a new selection committee as well as the possibility of a plus-one model. A new addition to the BCS would be a selection committee that Edwards proposes. The selection committee would be very similar to college basketball’s selection committee for March Madness. The committee would consist of former coaches and players and on every Saturday they would sit in a room full of televisions and watch games. This would be a great addition to the ranking system and would be better than the greedy Coaches Poll, and also the confusing Harris Interactive Poll and computer rankings. All games from both sides of the country would be seen and their would be no bias. The plus-one model would be a playoff, but not the typical one that most people want. It would add another game to the BCS and have the top two teams face each other. Stanford Athletic Director calls the eventual plus-one model “inevitable.” The plus-one model is a stepping stone, but not the ultimate goal of what the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision needs.
The ultimate goal is to have a proper playoff for the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision to find America’s true champion. With a selection committee, a playoff would be much easier to one day obtain. By having no bias from coaches, and the controversial computers being eliminated, experts of football would see the best teams that face the toughest schedules. Major changes would be made to schedules in order to have a playoff. One of the reason people are against playoffs, is because the amount of games being played and risk of injury. The NCAA would have to cut down the amount of regular season games to 10 like a high school schedule. After these 10 games a conference championship would be played, and that brings the total to 11 games played. After 11 games of wild college football and crowning conference champions, the selection committee would narrow down the “Elite Eight.” The top eight teams would play at the usual BCS sites of the Fiesta, Sugar, Orange, and Rose Bowl. Teams would be seeded and the top team would play the bottom and so on. After these games there would be the “Final Four” and then the crown would be handed out after the National Championship. A playoff system is in every sport of every division, earns huge amounts of revenue for sports and schools, and is ultimately what the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision needs. Now even the government is being introduced to the playoff system this year. According to the Associated Press, the “We Want a Playoff Now” campaign went to Capital Hill on December 15, and this campaign had the like of the lobbying firm The Moffett Group, with former Rep. Toby Moffett, D-Conn. running the group, and also communications firm New Partners.
This year is another year that shows the flaws of the BCS and is another example for the need of a playoff system. Not only is there flaws in BCS bowl games that keep teams like Boise St. out of BCS bowl games, but most importantly the BCS National Championship is flawed this year. Many people in the college football world believe that both LSU and Alabama are the two best teams in the nation due to their tough schedule and wins against high ranking teams. However, Alabama and LSU have faced each other this year at Alabama and LSU won the contest 9-6 in a game won on field goals. According to ESPN, the final BCS rankings have Oklahoma St. ranked third right behind Alabama by .0086 points. Oklahoma St.’s only loss came to an upset-minded Iowa St. when they loss 37-31. The loss came right after Oklahoma St. lost two women’s basketball coaches in a tragic plane crash. Oklahoma St. also won their conference by beating their rival Oklahoma Sooners. An Oklahoma St. versus LSU contest would be a true test of champions as Oklahoma St. would bring a high octane offense and LSU an indestructible defense. ESPN’s Rick Reilly gives his thought on a rematch by stating, “Of course, if Alabama wins Walking Dead II, the Tide will be … what? National champions? How? They’ll have one loss, same as all the other contenders. They’ll have split the home-and-home series with LSU. They won’t even have won their SEC division, much less their conference. Yet they could wind up petting the crystal football.” Reilly shows how this scenario makes no sense, because even if Alabama wins, LSU could consider themselves co-champions. This year is just another year of a flawed BCS system.
Year in and year out, college football players, coaches and fans are robbed of a proper champion due to the flawed BCS system. The BCS has shown to be corrupt with money, corrupt to non-automatic qualifiers and many other teams. Finding a true champion must be the ultimate goal of the NCAA and changes need to happen sooner than later. The NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision needs to change their ways of finding America’s true champion, and abolish the current BCS system. America needs to see the champion earn their title on the field, not in a computer.
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