What does it take to become a BCS Conference?
Before 2005 the only criterion for becoming a BCS conference was averaging a ranking better than No. 14 for the conference's best team. Once the Big East lost Miami, its champion the four previous years, to the ACC, the BCS added two additional criteria to reward the Big East for its depth.
According to www.bcsfootball.org, the new criteria on which conferences are now graded are as follows: (1) the ranking of the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings each year, (2) the final regular-season rankings of all conference teams in the computer rankings used by the BCS each year and (3) the number of teams in the top 25 of the final BCS standings each year.
I have taken the liberty of calculating these criteria for last year and from the most recent data available this year. Data for these two years as well as the next two years will be used by the BCS to re-evaluate all conferences and determine which will be given an automatic bid to the BCS bowl games.
For the first criterion, the ranking of a conference's best team in the BCS Standings is simply converted to a decimal between 1.00 and 0.00. A No. 1 ranking garners a value of 1.00, while a No. 2 ranking reals-in a 0.96 value. This continues all the way to a No. 25 ranking which has a value of 0.04.
For the second criterion, the computer rankings are calculated in the same way the BCS does it. The difference is that instead of assigning values from 1 to 25, values are assigned from 1 all the way to 120. This means that the average ranking of an entire conference can be calculated. Like the BCS, the highest and lowest computer ranking for each team are thrown out.
Additionally, the computer rankings for each team are then scaled from +1.00 to -1.00. If a conference's average is negative then it is truncated and the conference receives a value of 0.00 for this criterion.
Finally, the third criterion is calculated by counting the number of teams in the BCS Top 25. This number is compared to five, the largest number of teams any conference has had in the final BCS standings. For example, the Mountain West currently has 2 teams in the Top 25 (TCU and BYU) and is given a value of 0.4 (2/5) for this third criterion.
The three criteria are then calculated for each conference and averaged. A value of 0.50 will be used here as the cutoff between which conferences are of BCS caliber and which conferences are not. The actual value may be subjective to help struggling conferences like the Big East or Pac-10.
Below is the complete statistics for the top eight conferences. I excluded the MAC, which had a positive value because of Ball State's Top 25 finish last year.
A conference's computer average should not change too much more the remainder of the season because most out-of-conference games have been completed.
If you would like to tract the progress of a conference then keep looking at the number of teams a conference has in the BCS Top 25 as well as the highest ranking team. These values are in italics below.
BIG TWELVE 0.76
'08 Comp. Avg. 0.32
'08 Highest Rank 1.00 (#1 Oklahoma)
'08 Top 25 Teams 1.00 (Texas, Texas Tech, OK State, Missouri)
2008 Sub-Average 0.77
'09 Comp. Avg. 0.18
'09 Highest Rank 0.88 (#4 Texas)
'09 Top 25 Teams 1.20 (Kansas, OK State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska)
2009 Sub-Average 0.75
'08 Comp. Avg. 0.24
'08 Highest Rank 0.96 (#2 Florida)
'08 Top 25 Teams 0.80 (Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss)
2008 Sub-Average 0.67
'09 Comp. Avg. 0.41
'09 Highest Rank 1.00 (#1 Alabama)
'09 Top 25 Teams 1.00 (LSU, Florida, Auburn, Ole Miss)
2009 Sub-Average 0.80
BIG TEN 0.57
'08 Comp. Avg. 0.18
'08 Highest Rank 0.72 (# 8Penn State)
'08 Top 25 Teams 0.80 (Ohio State, Michigan State, Northwestern)
2008 Sub-Average 0.57
'09 Comp. Avg. 0.25
'09 Highest Rank 0.68 (#9 Iowa)
'09 Top 25 Teams 0.80 (Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin)
2009 Sub-Average 0.58
ATLANTIC COAST 0.52
'08 Comp. Avg. 0.48
'08 Highest Rank 0.48 (Ga Tech)
'08 Top 25 Teams 0.60 (Va Tech, and BC)
2008 Sub-Average 0.52
'09 Comp. Avg. 0.23
'09 Highest Rank 0.80 (#6 Va Tech)
'09 Top 25 Teams 0.60 (Miami, and Ga Tech)
2009 Sub-Average 0.54
'08 Comp. Avg. -0.00
'08 Highest Rank 0.84 (#5 USC)
'08 Top 25 Teams 0.40 (Oregon)
2008 Sub-Average 0.41
'09 Comp. Avg. 0.40
'09 Highest Rank 0.76 (#7 USC)
'09 Top 25 Teams 0.40 (Oregon)
2009 Sub-Average 0.52
BIG EAST 0.43
'08 Comp. Avg. 0.26
'08 Highest Rank 0.56 (#12 Cincinnati)
'08 Top 25 Teams 0.40 (Pittsburgh)
2008 Sub-Average 0.41
'09 Comp. Avg. 0.22
'09 Highest Rank 0.72 (#8 Cincinnati)
'09 Top 25 Teams 0.40 (South Florida)
2009 Sub-Average 0.45
MOUNTAIN WEST 0.42
'08 Comp. Avg. 0.09
'08 Highest Rank 0.80 (Utah)
'08 Top 25 Teams 0.60 (TCU, BYU)
2008 Sub-Average 0.50
'09 Comp. Avg. -0.00
'09 Highest Rank 0.60 (#11 TCU)
'09 Top 25 Teams 0.40 (BYU)
2009 Sub-Average 0.33
WESTERN ATHLETIC 0.32
'08 Comp. Avg. -0.00
'08 Highest Rank 0.68 (#9 Boise State)
'08 Top 25 Teams 0.20 (none)
2008 Sub-Average 0.29
'09 Comp. Avg. -0.00
'09 Highest Rank 0.84 (#5 Boise State)
'09 Top 25 Teams 0.20 (none)
2009 Sub-Average 0.35
Ultimately, the averages of these two years along with the results from 2010 and 2011 will be used to evaluate every conferences. Now, in the second of these four years, let us see how well the conferences are doing.
Only four conferences have preformed up to BCS snuff. The Pac-10 and Big East clock in with ratings of 0.47 and 0.43 respectively. The Pac-10 has rebounded this year by again putting up BCS-caliber numbers. Hopefully, for the Pac-10 faithful, last year's numbers were a freak occurrence.
The Big East, on the other hand, is still lagging behind. In 2005, at the completion of the ACC raid on the Big East, the BCS stipulated that a conference shall be judged by its current slate of teams rather than the teams it had for each of the years evaluated.
This is part of the reason that Temple was dismissed from the Big East after the 2004 season. Additionally, the Big East brought in Louisville, which had three consecutive Top 25 finishes and enhanced the Big East's Highest Ranking value by 11 ranks in 2004.
Without Louisville the Big East probably would have lost its automatic bid.
Much has been made of the Mountain West joining the BCS conferences. However, even after averaging these two years, the conference still ranks as only the seventh strongest conference. Perhaps they will follow the Big East model and adopt the top Mid-Major program (Boise State) for the sake of the bid.
On the other hand, four years later, the Mountain West might be suffering from increased parity just like the Big East is suffering now. This and much more will be explored in Part Two.