College Football Rankings: 5 Ways to Fix the BCS
Every year, ESPN gets to use about two to three full weeks of programming just on the problems with the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). I'm sure they love it, seeing as how they have 8,760 hours to fill annually with sports programming, and as I read Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, my opinion has only grown stronger in that regard.
But what about the fans? What do we think about the BCS?
I wish tests had questions like these. The simple answer is that we hate the way it uses historic rankings to produce future rankings. We despise the way the "computers" seem to always throw a wrench in things. It's just not a good system.
So if we're stuck with this thing called the BCS, what are some ways to fix it? In order from least invasive to most, here are my five solutions to fix the BCS.
Accept It as It Is and Stop Complaining
Like I said, this list is going from least invasive to most.
Maybe the BCS system is great, and we're all the ones with the problems. Sometimes it's best to just sit back and go with the flow.
Most of us are just regular Joes with a normal job and a normal life. We do have an abnormal love for our college football team, but hardly enough that the BCS would ever listen to us.
Life's too short. Eat your Cheerios and let the brainwash cleanse your mind of any anti-sentiment.
Match the Release of the Individual Polls
The BCS Formula is comprised of three sub-polls: the Harris Poll, the USA Today Coaches Poll, and the infamous computer rankings.
The three scores of the sub-polls are computed, averaged and reported as the BCS score. Vuala!
The only problem is that the polls are never released at the same time. The Coaches Poll begins early in the season, the Harris Poll begins in October, and the BCS isn't first reported until mid-October.
By allowing pollsters to see how previous polls rated each team, a subconscious affect called anchoring and adjustment takes place. It's a deep psychological process, to be honest.
Basically, if a team that was ranked No. 15 lost, they would maybe fall to only No. 19, rather than much farther down had no knowledge of the earlier No. 15 ranking existed.
Teams that are lucky enough to receive a high early season ranking, whether they earn it later or not, are at a huge advantage.
These polls need to be released at the same time so that no one poll dictates the result of another.
Offer More Transparency to the Computer Rankings
The computer rankings are always the most obscure. For some reason, you have to really do some search engine mining to really find what the poll entails. Why is that?
Go ahead and click the links of Wolfe and Billingsley. They're examples of the kind of ridiculous mathematics that go into determining who is ranked 23rd and 24th.
Colley holds a PhD from Princeton in astrophysical science. You can't make this stuff up.
Look, I'm not saying it's as easy as just throwing darts and seeing who beats who. But the fact that college football fans can't easily find or understand the rankings of six people who determine their teams' fate is unacceptable.
Create an Eight Team Playoff
There have been a couple times in the history of the BCS that an eight-team playoff would've been one of the most electric sporting events on television.
Think of what the 2010 Stanford Cardinal and Andrew Luck might've brought to the table against national champion Auburn Tigers if given the chance.
And an eight-team playoff would be quite easy to implement.
The four BCS bowl games would be the first round and then the semifinals and finals could be games. Just games. Imagine that.
The whole process would take only three weeks with games happening each Saturday afternoon or night.
As for the BCS sponsors demanding to be the only thing on TV, I can assure them that college football fans would tune into the Fiesta Bowl playoff before the ABCDEFG Bowl.
Abolish the Whole Damn Thing!
Now for what you really want to see: the complete and utter abolition of the BCS.
There is little need for a system that uses such wordy and convoluted formulas to determine who should play who for the national championship.
Basic polling needs to take place and a simple, easily accessible math formula should be created so that there are two different polls to use. There is no need for two human polls like the BCS currently uses.
An eight- or even 16-team playoff should be instilled and utilized like every other level of competitive football (Pee Wee, high school, D-III, D-II, and NFL).
No more complaints by fans. More creative programming needed from ESPN.