East Coast Bias: Why the Winner of TCU-Utah Won't Be Headed to BCS Championship
Week 9 of the 2010 college football season should be full of excitement, with many conference rivalry games that will have regional and national implications.
No. 15 Arizona travels to No. 13 Stanford, with the winner possibly having an outside shot at the Rose Bowl. No. 6 Alabama goes on the road to No. 10 LSU, where the winner stays alive in its bid for the SEC championship. And in the marquee matchup of the week, No. 3 TCU battles No. 5 Utah in a game that has national title implications.
Or does it?
At the end of the day, the winner of this game will not be any closer to playing in the national championship game than it was before. How could this be? The answer is simple—East Coast bias.
East Coast bias, more simply put, means that because the majority of the collegiate football audience resides on the East Coast, the BCS is less likely to select a team from the West such as a TCU or Utah because it will not yield very high television ratings.
Indeed, it is highly unlikely that many college football fans east of the Mississippi River would even bother to watch a game that had either of these two schools. The fact that this game is not even nationally televised, even when both teams are undefeated and ranked in the BCS Top 10, speaks volumes to the apathy that college football fans have toward these schools.
And while the public mission of the BCS is to ensure that No. 1 plays No. 2, privately the BCS is also concerned about another bottom line—making money. Low television ratings do not ensure that the BCS makes money.
To add to the East Coast bias is the fact that computer ratings, one component of the BCS, are designed by individuals who live on the East Coast. The computers rank TCU anywhere from No. 2 to No. 6, and Utah from No. 7 to No. 13. In order for either school to get a chance to play for the national title, it would stand to reason that they would have to jump to at least No. 2 in a majority of the computer ratings.
And that doesn't seem likely, with the remaining schedules of both teams, and a computer rating system that may be more subjective than it lets on. (For more on why I believe the computer polls to be subjective please visit http://jarrodssportsview.blogspot.com/2010/11/college-football-101-why-computer.html ).
Finally, East Coast bias means coaches on the eastern half of the United States, who make up a large majority of the USA Today-Coaches poll, will not get to see either team play. This is important because it probably means that many coaches (or their staff) will be reluctant to vote either school No. 1 or No. 2 without seeing footage of their games.
That both teams made it inside the Top 10 in the Coaches Poll is a testament to their programs' reputation, but reputation alone will not be enough to earn the votes required to jump to No. 1 or No. 2.
Tomorrow will be another day that separates the pretenders from the contenders in college football. Schools such as Arizona and Stanford will find out who can still dream of roses, while schools such as LSU and Alabama know that a victory tomorrow could be even bigger than that.
TCU and Utah play in a game that each school believes will put them one step closer to playing for a national championship. But East Coast bias says that regardless of who wins that contest, neither will be playing in Tempe come January 8.
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