BCS Busted (Rd 2): Debunking Every @INSIDEtheBCS Myth

Jay HendryCorrespondent IDecember 3, 2009

Happy one year anniversary to me!  Since my first article on this site was a BCS bashing piece that outlined a BCS doomsday scenario where Florida beat Alabama and was left out of the national championship, I figured I'd go ahead and make it a yearly feature. 

Quick rundown of the old article—In that scenario, a Texas-Oklahoma rematch decided the national title.  Luckily for the BCS, that didn't happen.

Fast forward to this year.

What a difference a year makes.  There's no controversy, and everything's just peachy in college football. 

Wait, what?  That's not right.  There's six freakin' unbeatens and only one of them is guaranteed to lose this week (either Alabama or Florida).  The BCS still sucks, only now it has gained sentience and is trying to argue its case.

That's not a joke.  If you're on twitter, you can follow it: http://twitter.com/INSIDEtheBCS.  If you're not on twitter, what the hell are you doing?  It's THE place to hang out on the Internets.

Anyway, back to the BCS.  It has launched a Twitter to push its championships-by-computers agenda and to "debunk" the playoff arguments with comedic little gems such as "fans travel to bowl games" (Hah!) or "all 11 conferences are part of the BCS" (WHAT A LAUGHER!!!).

What a crock.

The BCS didn't stop at Twitter though.  BCSkynet also launched a website called Playoff Problem (found at http://playoffproblem.com/ ) designed specifically as a smear campaign against a playoff system.

Well, I've had enough.  As a Gator fan, you'd think that I'd enjoy a system that has put my team in two of the last three championships, with a chance to play in this one as well.  I don't enjoy that at all, and neither should you.


Because the BCS is crappy, and there's nothing wrong with adding a few extra games to my college football season.  So I'm going to go through every myth/argument that the BCS touts as a reason to keep a votes–decide–championships system and tearing it apart.

Myth One: A playoff would not reduce selection controversy or bias

FALSE!  Yes it would.  It's true that a college football playoff would still utilize some sort of rankings system for seeding/selection purposes; just look at basketball. 

It's also true that there will always be a team left out in a system, but whether the team is the No. 5, No. 9, or No. 17, it's already less controversial than when the team is the No. 3 team.

Especially if the No. 3 team beat the No. 1 team head–to–head earlier in the season (2008, I'm looking at you).  Any system that gives more teams the opportunity to prove that they are the best team in the nation reduces selection controversy.

As for selection bias, a 16 team playoff opens the door for all 11 conferences to play for a championship. 

Wait! Every conference has the same chance to win a title? That's so fair!

I know, right?  Nominate me for a Nobel Prize. 

I already made a playoff that reduced selection controversy below the BCS' current level and I still have five Non–AQ slots left to fill! You wouldn't necessarily need to keep the two teams per conference rule, but it would limit rematches, so I'd approve if they kept it.

In my scenario, the Playoffs this year would include

ACC– Clemson/Georgia Tech
Big 12– Texas/Nebraska
Big East– Cinncinnati–Pitt
Big Ten (11)– Ohio St
C USA– ECU/Houston
Pac 10– Oregon/Oregon St
SEC– Florida/Alabama
Sun– Troy
WAC– Boise St

Possible Non–AQs (order of likelihood)
Florida/Alabama loser
Texas (assuming Neb win)
Cinn (assuming Pitt win)
Oregon (assuming OSU win)
Virginia Tech
Miami/Ga Tech (toss up, I couldn't decide who had a chance with a Clemson win)
Oklahoma State
West Virginia

Apologies to:
Penn State (you lost to both Big 11 teams above you)
Oregon State (you lose, you're out)
LSU (three team rule)

Tell me you wouldn't watch a show where they whittled those twelve non–AQ teams to down the final five spots of a playoff.  It would be so much better than selection Sunday.

Bonus: Yeah but how would you go about selecting teams?

Hmmm... how would I do that?  How would I select teams to play in a playoff?  There's 120 teams so I couldn't just use season records.  I'd need some sort of ranking system... Oh hi, BCS, let me just borrow your formula.

Why wouldn't that work?  It's already there.  I don't hate the BCS because it ranks teams.  I hate the BCS because it says the No. 3 team isn't good enough to play for a championship even if there's no hard evidence to support that claim. 

Do I care about the controversy of selecting Non–AQ team five over Non–AQ team six?  Not even a little bit.  Neither of those teams won their conference anyway in my playoff system.

Myth Two: Playoffs would diminish the regular season

Did you see how many teams made my pipe–dream playoff?  Sixteen.

Of the 120 teams only 16 move on.  Of those 16, 11 are guaranteed spots for winning their conference.  If you lose your conference you're fighting 109 teams for the final five spots. 

In college, teams go 12–0 in the regular season regularly.  Only two teams in NFL history have gone 16–0. Other sports feature throw away because you can completely clinch your seed in some years.  There aren't enough games in college football for that to be the case.

The BCS would have you believe that Urban Meyer would sit his players against FSU in anticipation of the SEC championship.  If he did that, you can call him Urban Fired.  If he loses to both FSU and then to Alabama, he's left out of the playoffs (two game losing streaks cause rankings plummets).

College has too many teams fighting for too few spots for any sane coach to willingly lose a game.

Bonus: This goes double if the playoffs are played at home

I don't know where my hypothetical playoffs would be played.  I'd have them play at the highest ranked team's field for each bracket, but the people in charge would probably assign something ridiculous.

Anyway, if coaches are fighting for potential home–field advantage, there's even less of a chance of anyone tanking a game.  Meyer's not going to hand Saban the SEC title and home–field advantage for the playoffs.  Furthermore, what if Florida didn't even get to play in the South after a loss? What if they ended up in Texas' bracket or Boise's?  The regular season would still be just as intense as it currently is.

Myth three: They're students first!  The extra games would hurt their academics.

Yeah right.  Let's get two things straight.  One, they're football players then students.  Second, the bowl season extends from finals week until the first week of the spring semester anyway. 

The playoff could start next week, or the week after.  I don't really care.  Even with the late start you end the same week that the national championship is currently played.

Plus, just like bowl season, each week you're whittling down the teams who are still practicing.  The final week would only have two teams still practicing/traveling/acting like a football team, not the 24 or so that currently play after New Years.

Did you catch that? I'm killing the bowl season.

More on that in a minute.

Still too many games? Let's kill off the 12th game.

B/R's Wann Harris already covered this.  He and I disagree on how the playoff should go down, but it's still a good read. 

Let me reemphasize that: Read his piece here because it's good.

Here's a quick breakdown:

Step one:Take out game 12 (it's only there so good teams can beat up FCS opponents)
Step two:bump up championship week
Step three: playoffs start earlier
Step four: ???
Step five: Profit!

If you read Wann's piece and then the comments then you'll see that I also kicked the eleventh game.  I'm not getting into it here though.

Myth four: The BCS preserves the pageantry and tradition of college football.  And we should honor that tradition.

Remember when the KKK was at Ole Miss fighting for "tradition"?  Traditionally, black guys didn't play football (and weren't presidents either).  Traditionally, rape was partially the fault of the victim (or in the case of spousal rape, not illegal).  Traditionally, the goal posts were in the front of the endzone.  Aren't traditions fun?

No. Generally, progress exists because traditions suck.  Look, I watch every bowl game, and I even enjoy most of them.  I feel like I'm plenty qualified when I say that a sixteen team playoff featuring only good teams would be more fun to watch than 34 bowl games featuring 78 teams with only about 16 good teams playing. 

Nobody goes to the lesser bowls.  Just take a look at the stands this year during the Ruffles Potato bowl in Idaho featuring SMU vs Wyoming.  Furthermore, the stupid things change names every two or three years, so you know they're not making much money.

The 15 games that would be played in a 16 team playoff would generate a lot of cash.  I'm talking absurd, Scrooge McDuck-swimming-in-gold amounts of money.  Hell, the crappy conferences (Sunbelt, MAC, C-USA) would make more in their one feature game than they do over the entire bowl season.  And could you imagine if one of those teams won a playoff game or two?  Cinderella stories always win over fans.

We don't need bowls.  We don't need the money, the pageantry, or any thing else that's attached to them.  The playoffs would generate that and then some because it would be so damn awesome.  Most of all, we don't need the BCS presiding over the bowl system.

That's it, I killed your bowls just go ahead and skip to the comments section.

Sorry to rain on your Rose Bowl Parade.

Myth five: Fans wouldn't be willing to travel for an extended playoff

First off, I already covered that most don't travel for some of the bowl games anyway.  We're talking top–tier teams.  You know, the teams with all of the rich old alums who travel miles in their RVs to see their teams play?  You're saying those people wouldn't travel for a playoff game?

Not to mention the fact that the playoffs could easily be played at the top–seeded team's field.  Kind of like how every playoff outside of March Madness does it?  Yeah, like that.

I wouldn't even complain if the did set it up in four central hubs.  Who cares? It's the playoffs, baby!

Myth Six: The BCS is responsible for the huge spike in college football's success recently

No, No, No, 1000x No.  It's true that college football has become a lot more popular in the last 11 or 12 years, but the BCS has nothing to do with it.  College football has become the de facto king of sports through marketing.  The BCS just happens to be part of that marketing.  Would it happen without the BCS?  Absolutely, 100% yes.

If anything, ESPN is the reason for the surge in popularity.  ESPN has marketed the hell out of the sport with shows like College Football Live and weekly, Tuesday and Thursday college football matchups.

Take the BCS out, and that still happens.  Put a playoff in, and that still happens.  Plus, you get the weirdos who refuse to watch because of the BCS too.  Overall, removing the BCS probably increases viewership.

That's it

It took almost 2,000 words, but you're done BCS.


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