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Why the BCS Needs to Fix Its Strength of Schedule Formula

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07:  Quarterback Garrett Gilbert #3 of the Texas Longhorns fumbles the ball as he is hit by linebacker Eryk Anders #32 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the Citi BCS National Championship game at the Rose Bowl on January 7, 2010 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Mike KlineAnalyst IDecember 10, 2016

It that time of year for NCAA tournament brackets, but all this talk about fair and unfair still has me thinking college football.

The ultimate question concerning the BCS' validity in helping determine the two best teams to play for the National Championship remains a hotly debated one.

If you ask me I don't believe you will ever find a common ground on the fairness of the BCS, but while we are using it we might as well figure in one aspect that makes it somewhat legitimate: Strength of Schedule.

The strength of schedule equation used in the BCS is defined as a weighted average of 2/3 the winning percentage of a team's opponents and 1/3 of the winning percentage of the opponents' opponents.

Confused yet?

To me this is just another case of computers and geeks taking too much of a mathematical angle on sports.

I believe that strength of schedule should be formulated into the BCS' program, but aren't we taking it a bit far with this approach?

Perhaps this method works for that guy from the show Numb3rs, but personally I don't see why we can't just look at the winning percentage of a team's opponents and call it a day.

Do we need some complex algorithm to figure out if Florida's opponents are as strong as Boise State's?

While I'm not advocating that we heavily weigh the strength of schedule into the BCS' equation, it should still be used.

But if you figure in a team's opponents' opponent's winning percentage, is that not just a double whammy for those teams in weaker conferences.

Surely a Boise State or TCU or another team who doesn't play in a BCS conference will have lower opponents' opponent's winning percentages more times than not. If they are already in a weaker conference why should they be penalized for it twice?

Simplifying the strength of schedule formula might very well encourage those teams to play more difficult non-conference schedules and provide some early season contests worth watching.

Of course even that isn't always fair, but until a playoff is in place, what really is?

You typically have teams like Florida and Alabama playing their usual cupcakes in non-conference because their conference schedules are deemed so difficult.

I'd just as soon do away with some of the fluff games and have a playoff in the end.

Regardless, I don't believe a team should be penalized for playing in a weaker conference if their non-conference schedules are challenging.

In the end strength of schedule is important and should be used. But it isn't the end all be all and shouldn't be so complex that you need a PhD in math to figure it out either.

I'm almost sure that when it is all said it done, at the end of the year you will still have some teams who are complaining, just like in college basketball this time of year.

 

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