BCS: Why Rankings Do Not Pick the 2 Best Teams To Play in a Championship

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BCS: Why Rankings Do Not Pick the 2 Best Teams To Play in a Championship
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Jim Delany, the commissioner of the Big Ten, thinks the BCS is fair.

In college football, we have a system known as the BCS. The BCS is comprised of public opinion polls and computers to generate a percentage for each team. After the regular season is over, the top two ranked teams get to play for the national championship and the title of best team in college football.  Many people argue that this system is fair, because we have the perfect balance of public opinion and computer-generated polls. However, the BCS is missing the most important factor of determining a national championship: visual proof.

One of the biggest arguments in determining the quality of a team is strength of schedule. Many people discredit teams like Boise State, TCU and Utah because they do not play tough opponents week in and week out. The smaller schools then argue that they can't play tough opponents, because no one wants to schedule them. The bigger schools rationalize the fact that they can schedule weak teams with their tough conference schedule. The smaller schools are getting better. The WAC has more ranked teams than the ACC and Big East combined. The Mountain West has just as many.  Conference USA also has more ranked teams than the Big East.

Another flaw of the BCS is that its computer rankings do not involve watching the games and they do not factor in margin of victory. I agree that if they implemented margin of victory into the computer rankings, you would see many teams run up the score against weaker opponents, but there has to be a difference between a three-point, double overtime loss and a 50-point blowout. They also do not get to factor in injuries. Oregon State was a solid team at the beginning of the year, and Boise State and TCU beat the tough Oregon State team. However, after some key injuries, Oregon State lost to Washington State, which hurt TCU and Boise State in the rankings. If Oregon State had its players healthy, they could have won that game and helped Boise State and TCU's cause.

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I got to thinking to myself, how many times have the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in other sports actually played each other for the national title?  Every other sport in the world determines its champions by a playoff. How many times have the No. 1 and No. 2 seeded teams played in the championship game? I pulled up some reports from some various college sports playoff results, and it was interesting what I found.

Since 1998, when the BCS was formed, no No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in men's college basketball have met in the title game. 58 percent of the time, at least one team has made it to the national championship, but the other 42 percent, neither of the top two schools made it. Last year, no one would have expected Butler to make it to the championship game, but they proved it on the court that they were the second-best team in the nation and a halfcourt shot away from being the best.

Let's go back to football in division 1-AA. Since 1998, only once has the No. 1 and 2 seeds met in the championship game—in 2009, when Montana played Villanova for the title. 50 percent of the time, at least one team made it, while in the other 50 percent, neither the No. 1 nor No. 2 team made it to the championship game.

College baseball is even worse. Sometimes the No. 1 and No. 2 teams don't even make it to the World Series. Only one time has the top two teams played for a championship—in 1999, when Miami and Florida State played for it all. Only 41 percent of the time has even just one of the top two made it to the championship game.

Eric Draper/Getty Images
TCU thinks that they should be playing for a national championship.

College lacrosse was a little more forgiving due to the dominance of Johns Hopkins, Duke, Syracuse and Princeton. Since 1999, the top two teams have met in the championship game four times. Syracuse and Princeton did it twice in 2000 and 2001, Johns Hopkins and Virginia met in 2003 and Johns Hopkins and Duke met in 2005. 75 percent of the time, at least one team has made it to the championship game.

Now I know that this is a lot of facts thrown at you, but I'm just trying to make a point here. In most college sports, it is rare that the No.1 and no. 2 seeded teams both make it to the championship game. So how can the BCS argue that their system is fair by just picking the best two teams without watching them play each other? I don't think that Oregon and Auburn would both go through a 16-team playoff without having one bad game and slipping up. How do we know that TCU couldn't beat Oregon or Auburn in a game? We will never know until we have a playoff. In the meantime, I'll just stick to watching Division 1-AA football and March Madness.

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