BCS System Has Crumbled Under SEC Weight, Big East Failures

Mike FosterCorrespondent IDecember 2, 2012

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 29: Jamaine Brooks #99 of the Louisville Cardinals takes a bite out of an orange after beating the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 20-17 to win the Big East championship in a game at High Point Solutions Stadium on November 29, 2012 in Piscataway, New Jersey. The Cardinals are anticipating a bid to the Orange Bowl. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Heading into tonight, every fan in the country knew what they would be getting at the Discover BCS National Championship game on Jan. 7. Those tickets are reserved for Notre Dame and Alabama fans. 

There's no controversy there. Notre Dame had an undefeated season under Brian Kelly, and Alabama won an SEC title game for the ages to once again justify its rank as the premiere program in college football.

But the reveal of the rest of the bowl schedule once again caused what has become the annual stir that immediately precedes the final BCS rankings and BCS bowl matchups.

Most noteworthy? Northern Illinois, the champion of the Mid American Conference, cracked the Top 16 in the BCS standings, which apparently is a qualification for an at-large from a non-AQ conference to make a BCS bowl game.

This meant the removal of Oklahoma, which is ranked No. 11 in the BCS polls and is the runner-up in the Big 12 standings from the BCS. 

That event contrasts heavily against the inclusion of Louisville, which won the Big East conference. Louisville finished the season ranked No. 21 in an automatic qualification conference that only fielded eight teams in 2012.

What's the issue here? It's simple.

The BCS was designed to hopefully handpick the top eight teams in the country, while also providing equal chances for the major conferences to be represented. Back when the BCS was first introduced in 1998, the conferences were much more balanced.

The conferences were balanced in a way where the human voter could take a team from each conference seriously. When the human voter can take an AQ conference seriously, the system shakes out quite well.

What we have seen is that the human voter doesn't give certain affiliations the same amount of esteem as it used to, which caused the seemingly unbalanced results when the final pairings come out.

Nobody has taken the Louisville Cardinals seriously enough to put them past No. 20 or place Northern Illinois as the champion of an AQ conference. That's because the Big East has become the butt of water cooler jokes in the past few years. That carries into the votes.

Ironically, had Louisville been ranked past Northern Illinois, Oklahoma would have made the BCS this year because, for some odd reason, the system mandates that a non-AQ team must finish in the Top16 and ahead of an AQ champion. 

What that scenario exposes is the tail of a monster with a scarier head—and that head is drooling with the success of the Southeastern Conference.

The BCS this year will feature the 12th, 15th and 21st-ranked teams in the country. 

What it won't feature is Georgia, who was five yards away from earning a trip to Miami to play in the national championship. 

To say a team that close to a No. 2 ranking ended up out of a series that is supposed to include the Top 10 teams is puzzling. 

In a year where the country was more balanced, like the one the BCS was created for, the SEC would only have two of the best teams in the country. The BCS only allows two teams from each conference, probably because when it was conceived the thought of a conference housing the three best teams in the country was far-fetched. Surely, the other conferences would provide enough goods to prevent that from happening.

There's only one problem: Not only have the other conferences gotten worse at preventing that from  happening, but the SEC is flooded with top teams.

Not only is Georgia not going to a marquee bowl, but neither will LSU, Texas A&M or South Carolina, which are ranked No. 8, 9 and 10, respectively.

Nos. 7-10 are out because they are in the same conference as Alabama and Florida, so No. 15 and No. 21 are filling in. 

What we've learned here is that the conference power has changed, and the system wasn't programmed to handle such a flood of abnormality.

Luckily, these rankings aren't filling in a playoff. But, one day, if things don't change, they very well could. What if we got to an 8-team playoff, and the urge to satisfy a conference champion we only regarded as the 21st best team in the country kept a Georgia or an Oklahoma out of the picture?

The BCS has to be adjusted to take conference affiliation out of the equation. The Big East was an AQ conference when the system began because it boasted programs like Virginia Tech and Miami (FL).

We saw this a few years ago when the MWC began to impress, and Boise State was never given the benefit of the doubt because of the Big East's inherent privilege. 

And this year we saw how the Big East's inherent privilege helped trounce a more worthy team.

The reality is, this season's fans shouldn't even pay attention to the BCS brand. Why? Because the better games are going to be played outside of the BCS series, anyway.

The BCS system was not designed to handle this type of college football environment. To take the name seriously and envy the chance to participate in a BCS game is now nothing more than malarkey.