Little Rule Change, Big Impact: BCS Rankings Reconsidered

IsmailAnalyst IJuly 5, 2009

MIAMI - JANUARY 08:  The Florida Gators celebrate after defeating the Oklahoma Sooners in the FedEx BCS National Championship Game at Dolphin Stadium on January 8, 2009 in Miami, Florida. The Gators won the game by a score of 24-14.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

With an infinite amount of controversy and opinion surrounding college football’s current BCS system I have proposed an idea that may help the system work a little more efficiently.


Bear in mind that I do not support the BCS system and I think there are many changes that could improve the system. But out of all of them there is one that I have contemplated that might make some sense.


Let’s get rid of pre-season rankings all together. In fact, if I had my way I wouldn’t release rankings at all until the first BCS ranking comes out.


My main reasoning for doing this is that there is far too much judgment rendered upon teams before the seasons even begins. And even worse, this judgment sticks with the top ranked teams far too long.


Case in point: Last year USC began the season at No. 3 before pummeling UVA in Charlottesville in their first game. Immediately the Trojans shot up to No. 1 although no other team in the top 10 had lost yet.


Two weeks later No. 1 USC took out then No. 5 Ohio State in convincing fashion. But remember the Buckeyes were without Heisman candidate running back Beano Wells and still hadn’t figured out their quarterback situation yet.


As a result, Ohio State fell 8 spots to No. 13 when the 3rd AP poll was released. At this point, major judgments have already been delivered.


After a bye week, USC fell apart on the road and lost to an unranked Oregon State team. When the 5th AP poll was released the Trojans fell 8 spots to No. 9.


Does anyone see the ridiculousness of this ranking? Why does one team who loses to the No. 1 team in the country fall the same spots as another losing to an unranked opponent?


The answer is that after only two games the college football world had already made up its mind that USC was the team to beat and a national championship contender.


In no way do I mean to say that USC wasn’t a very talented team and worthy of national championship consideration, but they lost to an unranked team! Even still, USC went on to have a successful season and finished a 12 win season with a two touchdown victory over Penn State in the Rose Bowl.


However, because of the preconceived judgments formed early in the fall USC came very close to playing in the national championship while an undefeated Utah team was left largely out of the picture.


Let’s look at it another way. What if in some year Notre Dame is highly ranked and follows the same path as the 2008 USC Trojans: one huge blow victory, followed by a convincing win against an injured top 5 team (let’s say Michigan for the sake of argument) who ends up losing twice more during the season.


Despite dominating the rest of their opponents, Notre Dame ends up losing on the road to a decent but unranked Purdue club.


It may be difficult but with enough preconceived judgments about the Irish (pre-season rankings and all subsequent rankings thereafter) illustrating that they are a top team and with the SEC beating each other up, Notre Dame sneaks into the national championship game and wins it.


Now as much of an Irish fan as I am, I wouldn’t feel right about winning a title while having lost to an unranked opponent. The same goes for USC last year. As dominant as they were they lost to unranked Oregon State.


So what does everyone think? Would a college football world without rankings be that better off until well into the season? Would it take away the judgments that are rendered before any football is kicked off in late August?


Would we be better off this year with Ohio State hosting USC in a key early season matchup without all of the strings attached because of rankings? Couldn’t we just let teams play football for a while until the BCS rankings become absolutely necessary?