Everyone has a theory about playoffs or the BCS or any other system determining the college football postseason, and now it’s my turn.
First off, I should establish that I am in the tiniest of minorities of people who think college football DOES NOT need a playoff. Feel free to post all sorts of outrageous comments about how wrong I am, but read through the end of this blog first.
College football is at its pinnacle of popularity. Every game counts, the regular season is a playoff, insert other various and sundry clichés here. But really, people love college football from Week One to Week 14, and more importantly, every one of those games matters.
Do you realize how unique that is? In the NFL, the best teams rest their starters by the last week or two of the season without a care of winning or losing. How much fun is that to watch?
With the exception of a few die-hard fans, the first few weeks of college basketball are nothing more than glorified exhibition games. Really, there are no ratings until the tournament anyway, and then only because every office in the world has a bracket pool.
The NBA ratings before the playoffs are almost equally dismal, and they’re equally guilty of the starter-resting business as well. There’s also that tanking business in the pros, but that’s another topic for another day.
Can you imagine the day when Jim Tressel benches his quarterback against Michigan because he’s got his playoff berth locked up? Do you want to?
The biggest argument for playoffs is that the current system is unfair. While flawed, the current system probably crowns the best champion more often than any other sport.
The Giants couldn’t even win their own division and lost at home to New England. But in the NFL, the regular season ceases to matter once January rolls around. Is that fair?
In 2005, a 9-2 Notre Dame team or a 9-2 Ohio State team would have had the same shot at the title as an undefeated USC or Texas team. Is that fair?
There’s also the tradition of bowl games and the fact that the season is long enough already, but I didn’t start this blog to defend the BCS. I want to fix it.
THE BCS IS A FLAWED SYSTEM. I’m not the first to admit it, but let’s take a look at how to improve upon it and make college football even better than ever.
First and foremost, dump the "only two teams to a conference" rule. If you’re in the top 10 in the Week 14 BCS poll, you made it. Why punish Missouri in 2007 because they played in the Big 12 Championship game and thus got an extra loss? They deserved to be there.
On the other hand, you can’t leave out a one-loss Kansas team, especially when we know in retrospect that they dominated in the Orange Bowl. Maybe the solution is to ban Oklahoma from BCS games and save the rest of the Big 12 some embarrassment—yet again, another topic for another day.
The same thing happened to Wisconsin in 2006. Michigan and Ohio State had phenomenal regular seasons. Auburn deserved a BCS game in 2006 as well. Funny how the two conferences in the title game had three deserving teams. How can you punish Wisconsin for that?
With that rule gone, it might alleviate the problem I’m going to address in my next point. But either way...
Secondly (and this may seem redundant), if you’re in the top 10, you’re in. No more tie-ins. None of this dipping down to No. 13 just because the Rose Bowl wants a Pac-10-Big Ten matchup business. If they’re both available, then the Rose Bowl can have them, but if not, they have to pick someone else in the top 10.
The championship game gets first pick, then all the other bowls can have their tie-ins if they’re available, and then you have to pick from the remaining top 10 teams. If a conference champ didn’t make it into the top 10 (a la Wake Forest in 2006) they don’t go to a BCS bowl.
The Rose Bowl can have first pick—they’ve got enough clout and history that they deserve that much. That means last year’s Rose Bowl is USC-Missouri. I can guarantee that would be a better game than the shellacking USC gave Illinois.
That means 2006 gets really shaken up: The Sugar Bowl would have been LSU-Wisconsin, and the Orange Bowl is Louisville-Auburn. I don’t care that Wake Forest won the ACC—they won a really bad conference and finished 14th in the BCS poll. Fourteenth. That’s not just one or two removed from the top 10.
Besides, who doesn’t think that Louisville-Auburn would have been a more exciting game?
Thirdly, the BCS formula needs to be tweaked. Computer rankings should be given more weight than human polls. Humans can be (and are) biased. They can be swayed and lobbied; they can be influenced by winning traditions and past accomplishments and dynasties.
None of that sort of thing should matter in the crowning of a champion. The title game should be based on a team’s performance that season. Human polls should still factor in, but to a smaller degree.
Additionally, strength of schedule should play a stronger role. It would encourage better non-conference matchups and create some excitement early on, which would only further increase the popularity of the sport.
Throw in a bylaw that you have to win your conference to play in the title game. There’s no way that Georgia, who didn’t even win their division, let alone their conference, could make a case that they deserved to be in the title game.
And that, ladies and gents, is my very long, wordy, and verbose explanation of what is right and wrong with the BCS, and how it should be fixed. Kudos to those of you who made it through the whole thing, and go Texas Tech!