Following the 2010 BCS National Championship Game in Pasadena, the Bowl Championship Series will enter its fourth cycle as major college football’s premier postseason entity.
And as much as we whine, cry, plead, beg, threaten, boycott, etc., the truth is that we will undoubtedly live through at least four more years of BCS-mandated college football.
Don’t believe me?
ESPN and the BCS have 500 million reasons to tell you otherwise.
Let’s face it. The BCS is here to stay—at least for now.
With that in mind, I offer up five suggestions that might make the next BCS cycle a little more palatable.
1) It’s time for some conference reshuffling.
This tends to happen every seven to 10 years, and come the turn of the next BCS cycle, the time for a conference reshuffling would be right on par.
Here’s what I suggest.
Just underwent a minor makeover. While it might be a conference that is perceived as being “down,” there are some highly competitive programs that will be right on track come 2010.
Add a 12th team already. Eleven is such an odd number (both literally and figuratively). College football nation would love if you guys had a Conference Championship, and there are plenty of good Midwestern cities to choose from as a host site—Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chicago.
The only bad thing? No more nifty “11” hiding in the Big Ten logo (I always thought that was mighty clever).
So then? Who does the Big Ten add?
Most fans would propose Notre Dame.
But that brings up complications. You’d then have a school that plays football in one conference, every other major sport in another conference, and hockey in a third conference.
No, Notre Dame is not the answer.
The answer is...Iowa State.
Yes. You read that correctly. IOWA STATE.
It makes sense geographically.
(And it’s the snowball for the rest of my plan.)
Have to replace Iowa St. (and I’m sure many Big XII fans would welcome that idea).
Iowa St.’s replacement?
As a former Southwestern Conference member, Arkansas belongs with Texas, A&M, and Oklahoma. Hell, Arkansas has played Texas three times since 2002 anyway.
Former rivalries would be renewed, and the addition of Arkansas would rejuvenate a weak North Division (in comparison to the South Division).
Have to replace Arkansas.
Wait for it...
You're going to love this one...
Well, for one, it was a charter member of the original Southeastern Conference and brings more SEC titles to the table than Arkansas.
Secondly, it provides a balance between the West and East Divisions. The East has its rigorous academic institution in Vanderbilt. Tulane would act as a balance-maker in the West.
Thirdly, in brings in a real (as in historically established) in-state, in-conference rival for LSU, and completes the two-school trifecta for the three East Division states (Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama).
No need for a shake-up. Pretty solid foundation that has held strong for decades upon decades.
However, if some tweaking were to be done, I would propose adding Fresno St. (consistently competitive program with one of the most underrated coaches in the country in Pat Hill) and either a San Jose St. or Hawaii (for geographic purposes...and, can you get much worse than Washington and Washington St. at this point?).
Small conference perceived by many to be on the rise, and is actually better than some BCS conferences. The Mountain West can solidify itself as a top conference by adding at least one and possibly three more teams—making it a force for the BCS to reckon with.
With the additions of Boise St. and Nevada, the competitive level of the conference would rise exponentially. Throw in a New Mexico St., Utah St., or Idaho (every conference needs a patsy or two), and you have a 12-team conference that can arguably be considered one of the top conferences in the nation.
(No, I’m not crazy. Have we not learned anything from 2004 Utah, 2008 Utah, and 2006 Boise St.?)
This one is a headache.
This biggest problem with the Big East is while it only has eight schools with football programs, it is a 16-team basketball conference. We simply can’t just add on four more teams.
So this is what we do.
Let’s start with Notre Dame. They’re already a member of the Big East in every major sport aside from hockey. Simple solution.
Then there’s Villanova. Bump them up from FCS status and have them play with the big boys. (Hey, if South Florida can go from an idea to a relevant program in less than a dozen years, 'Nova can figure out a way to compete on the FBS level.)
That would make the Big East a 10-team conference, which is exponentially better than a weak eight-team conference.
WAC, CUSA, MAC, Sun Belt
The WAC is left mildly depleted. CUSA would have to replace Tulane and could do so with Louisiana Tech. The Sun Belt absorbs whatever is left of the WAC. The MAC is fine as is.
2) Make the Mountain West a BCS Conference.
Even without my proposed additions of Boise St., Nevada, and Idaho/New Mexico St./Utah St., the Mountain West has proved it is a quality conference.
It currently has nine teams (one better than the current Big East) and has enjoyed more BCS bowl victories (despite not being a BCS Conference) over the last five years than the ACC.
Let’s not get confused. The addition of the Mountain West would not mean the expulsion of another conference. It would simply mean seven BCS conferences instead of six.
There would still be three at-large spots (one more than the original BCS plan).
And imagine if the Mountain West was guaranteed BCS money every year.
Upgraded stadiums. Upgraded practice facilities. Upgraded film review rooms.
Eventually all of that leads to upgraded players and upgraded coaches (not that some of the teams necessarily need much upgrading in those categories).
It would only help college football. I honestly see no negative effects of adding another quality conference to the mix.
3) Drop the BCS National Championship Game and just add a fifth Bowl.
One of the initial “cool things” about the original BCS was that one of the four major bowls served as the National Championship.
It was cool to Virginia Tech fans with bags of Sugar; Oklahoma fans with fistfuls of oranges; Texas fans with roses between their teeth.
Bring that back.
Keep the five-game formula—just add another bowl.
So Glendale, New Orleans, Miami, and Pasadena will no longer have the pleasure of hosting two high-profile games a year.
So what? You still have one, and every five years you’ll have the National Championship.
I, like many fans, think that if a fifth bowl were added, it should be the Cotton.
Reason One: It’s one of the oldest existing bowl games.
Reason Two: Its name hasn’t been hijacked and replaced by some corporation (i.e. the Chick-fil-A Bowl—formerly the Peach Bowl).
Reason Three: Starting in 2009, the Cotton Bowl will be played in the state-of-the-art New Texas Stadium, with a seating capacity at or near 100,000.
Reason Four: Dallas is a large enough and cool enough city to host such a big game (even if most residents think roses come out of their rear ends).
A fifth bowl game would eliminate the weeklong hiatus, and a champion would be crowned Jan. 4 or earlier.
4) Any at-large team must be ranked in the top 10.
As it currently stands, any at-large from a non-BCS conference must finish the season ranked 12th or better.
Well, I say take that rule and slap it across the board.
Sorry Illinois, but that was one stinker of a Rose Bowl in 2008. You only got there because the traditionalists on the Rose committee wouldn’t take a better non-Big Ten team.
I’m all for keeping conference tie-ins for conference winners, but after that, we need to drop our old ways and provide the best possible matchups.
I know some out there would argue that conference tie-ins should be dropped altogether, but I disagree. If a team can fight and claw its way through its conference and end up on top, it deserves a chance to play in a big game on a national stage.
It gives teams something to play for even after they’ve dropped a couple of early, non-conference games.
5) Put together a committee of coaches, college presidents, media members, and former players and figure out a better way.
Earlier, I said we need to get over the fact that things aren’t going to change any time soon.
That doesn’t mean we can’t look toward the future.
Something eventually needs to be done with the way we crown college football’s national champion.
Some propose a playoff.
I, myself, have proposed an alternative solution that does not involve a playoff.
Either way, get together and figure something out. We are not dumb enough to believe that what you are giving us is the best you can do.