Crowning the BCS National Champion: Fans Are You Ready for the Next Step?

Rick BrandelContributor IMay 18, 2011

Expanded access to the Crystal Ball provided by seeding the top four
Expanded access to the Crystal Ball provided by seeding the top fourHandout/Getty Images

The BCS Championship game, initiated in 1998, has identified a consensus national champion in the major polls during 12 of the last 13 years. That’s an improvement!

The media and coaches polls named different national title holders three times in the 13 year period prior to the BCS Championship game’s inaugural debut.

The implementation of a BCS Championship game was a good step.

But let’s be honest.  Even with the final postseason polls frequently in agreement, a poor taste is left in our mouths. Are we really satisfied when the confetti drops to culminate another season of great college football?

Too often we are not.

While USC walloped Oklahoma in the 2004 Orange Bowl to claim the BCS Championship, the Auburn Tigers finished 13-0 including a Sugar Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.  The Tigers earned a fair shot at the BCS ring, yet college football fans could only wonder how a final match-up of two undefeated titans, Auburn and USC would have played out to wrap up the 2004 season.

Similar sentiments for Utah, Boise State and TCU over the past three years are legitimate reminders of an imperfect system. Teams may finish the season with a perfect record but it doesn't guarantee an opportunity to play for the Waterford Crystal football in the annual FBS marquee match-up.

The BCS added a fifth bowl game in 2006 which greatly improved access for non-BCS programs,  BCS schools upset in conference championship games, or losers of the tie-breaker system at the end of regular season play.

The fifth BCS bowl game was a good step.

So the real question is how do we improve the process to crown a BCS champion while working within and respecting the long standing and tradition rich bowl system?

Let me offer a simple suggestion, a suggestion I contend is the next good step in the evolution of crowning a national champion.

Ten teams are selected to play in five initial BCS sponsored bowl games with the addition of a sixth game, a plus one final game of the year- winner take all contest to serve in the determination of a National Champion.

The five first-round games would include the four current bowls comprising the BCS series: the Rose, Orange, Fiesta and Sugar and would add one additional bowl, most likely the Cotton.

In this format the top four teams in the BCS final season ranking would be placed in two national semifinal match-ups. The national championship would be played seven to 10 days later.

Scheduling the semifinal and championship games would annually rotate among the five bowls.

In 2010, top-seeded Auburn would have played fourth-seeded Stanford, while second-ranked Oregon would have met TCU in the other semifinal. What an interesting array of possibilities! 

Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ohio State, Virginia Tech and Connecticut would have been paired in the other three BCS bowl games.

BCS Commissioners, it’s time for the next step.

The BCS took a giant first step by matching the top two teams in 1998 and improved access for additional schools with a fifth BCS game beginning in 2006.

Again, I repeat those were good steps. Now it's time for another.

Four schools in the final consideration for the BCS championship instead of two will address the speculation of Auburn vs. USC in 2004; or TCU vs. Auburn this past season (For the record, neither Utah or Boise State were ranked in the final four of the BCS rankings in their respective seasons).

Utah and TCU have accepted invitations to join BCS conferences. Boise State remains a non-BCS player but has earned respect nationally for its play if not its field.

It will be increasingly difficult for coaches and media voters to keep Boise State or other similar emerging non-AQ teams out of final four consideration in future years.

Four teams in consideration instead of two will further increase the fervor and following of fans everywhere and could begin as soon as 2013.

BCS Commissioners, you can do this!

Fans, players and coaches are depending upon your wise vision.  Similar to the steps taken in 1998 & 2006 this is a major step forward in crowning a national champion.  Thanks in advance for your consideration and action!