BCS Rankings: Why the Jim Delany Plan Is Far Better Than the Current System

Schmolik@@Schmolik64Correspondent IINovember 19, 2011

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - JANUARY 07:  The coaches trophy is displayed during Media Day for the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn on January 7, 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

I will start by saying I dislike the BCS. Like many college football fans, I want to see a playoff system. But it seems unlikely college presidents would agree to a playoff at this time.

So I am looking at minor changes that have a chance at being passed, which I think will benefit college football and in some cases, college athletics in general.

A proposal that was reported by CBSSports.com is from Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany.


Under the proposal, the BCS would only handle the No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup. The four current BCS bowls (Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta) would no longer be affiliated with the BCS.

The following ESPN.com article does not list Delany but elaborates on the proposal.


The current BCS handles the BCS National Championship and the standings that determine which teams play in that game.

But they also are in charge of assigning teams to the remainder of the bowl games.

Under the current format, six conference champions—from the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific-12 and SEC—are granted an automatic bid.

Among the remaining conferences, only the highest ranked conference champion receives an automatic bid and only if they finish in the top 12 of the BCS standings (or top 16 and above another automatic bid conference champion).

In addition, the BCS revenue is distributed so the six conferences listed above get the lion's share of the money.

In 2010, both Boise State, then from the WAC, and TCU, then from the Mountain West Conference, were chosen for BCS bowls.

Yet the MWC and WAC did not receive as much money as the six BCS conferences, four of which also had just one team in the BCS.

Essentially, the BCS is choosing sides when it comes to conferences.

Last season, TCU finished third in the BCS standings, and Boise State finished 10th. TCU used the non-AQ rule to get a BCS bid (they also would've made it for finishing third).

Boise State was not chosen for a BCS bowl.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech (ACC champions) and Connecticut (Big East champions) received automatic BCS bids, despite not being ranked in the BCS top 10.

Connecticut wasn't even ranked in the Top 25. From a fairness standpoint, the BCS fails miserably.

Bowls are a large part of the BCS and they are businesses. They want to make money, too. Bowl games usually prefer teams from more popular conferences. They have more fans traveling to the games and more fans watching on TV.

If most bowls had their way, they would not generally want teams from the MWC and WAC and would prefer teams from the SEC and Big Ten, for example.

The more conferences that receive automatic BCS bids, the less choice the Sugar and Orange Bowls have in choosing teams. Last year, the Rose Bowl was contractually obligated to take TCU to replace Oregon, even though Stanford and Andrew Luck were BCS eligible.

On the other hand, the ACC and Big East champions have also proven to be unpopular, according to TV ratings. The lowest-rated BCS bowl was the 2009 Orange Bowl, which featured ACC champions Virginia Tech and Big East champions Cincinnati.

In 2010, the Fiesta Bowl featured two teams outside power conferences (TCU and Boise State) and their TV rating that year was far superior than the Orange Bowl, which featured an ACC team and a Big Ten team.

It is unfair to single out the MWC and WAC (and Conference USA) as being bad for TV or bad for business but not the ACC and Big East.

That's why the proposed system, while not a playoff, is far better. There would no longer be automatic bids for BCS bowls.

Essentially, the current BCS bowls would then have more say as to which teams they invite without getting stuck with teams and conferences they don't want.

The likely result is that the Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta Bowls would strike deals with conferences just like the others do now.

Will this help the MWC, WAC and Conference USA? Of course not. Unless the big bowls want to partner with one of these conferences, you will never see schools from smaller conferences in these bowls.

On the other hand, the Big East would likely not get into these bowls, either. The ACC might still be able to keep one bowl.

The new system won't be fairer when it comes to performance on the field, but it will be fairer when it comes to economics. While it won't make sense, it will make "cents."

The bigger conferences, whose teams are more popular, will make more money. The others will not.

The current BCS doesn't make sense or cents. It allows the Big East champion an entry (and more money) every year but not the MWC or Conference USA.

This is why schools like Boise State and BYU are being considered for the Big East.

While some schools are considering football-only memberships, schools like Houston and SMU are being considered for full membership in the Big East.

This will only add travel miles for non-revenue producing sports and will dilute the quality of Big East men's basketball.

If the BCS cuts ties with the Big East, all these other schools will have little, if any, reason to join the Big East.

The Big East could then remain an "Eastern" conference.

In addition, the current BCS bowls would have more say as to when their games are on and on what TV station.

I remember the days when most of the BCS bowls were on January 1 or 2. The Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl were on New Year's night. Last year, neither was.

The Rose Bowl is allowed to play on January 1 or 2 every year, while the others bowls have to rotate as to who plays when.

That's why the Rose Bowl, almost every year, is the highest rated of the four BCS bowls. You have to look up the schedule as to what date the other bowls are on.

Assuming all the major bowls will play on January 1, here is a possible scenario for the other bowls.

Rose Bowl

Remains Big Ten champion vs. Pacific-12 champion and keeps current time slot.

Sugar Bowl

Keeps the SEC champion. The next most popular conference at this time would seem to be the Big Ten. They would probably get the No. 2 choice.

With the power of the SEC at this time, they will probably get prime time on New Year's night. The drawback is that often, the SEC champion is in the BCS National Championship.

Orange Bowl

I see the Orange Bowl keeping their deal with the ACC. If Florida State and/or Miami come back, the Orange Bowl will clearly benefit. 

It seems a no-brainer they will strike a deal with the SEC for their No. 2 or No. 3 choice, as Florida is in the same state and other SEC schools are fairly close by.

The Big Ten is a possibility, but if the No. 2 choice goes to the Sugar Bowl, will the Orange Bowl prefer the Big Ten No. 3 or the ACC champion?

Since the Sugar Bowl is in prime time, the Orange Bowl can't be. I see them playing in the middle slot opposite the Rose Bowl.

Cotton Bowl

This is where Jerry Jones and Cowboys Stadium come in to play.

It makes far more sense for the Big 12 champion to play there and enjoy a virtual home game (unless West Virginia wins the Big 12) than play in the Fiesta Bowl.

I'm sure Jerry Jones will try to outbid the Fiesta Bowl and keep the Big 12 in Texas. 

The SEC has been good for the Cotton Bowl, and they will keep their contract with them (especially with Texas A&M now in the SEC).

I see the Orange and Cotton Bowls splitting the No. 2 and No. 3 choices with the SEC. Teams from the east would get priority for the Orange and teams from the west would get priority for the Cotton.

The Cotton Bowl would probably be scheduled for the early (1pm ET) slot on New Year's Day, so as not to conflict with the other SEC bowls.

They also just might keep the post-New Year's Day prime time slots as well.

Fiesta Bowl

They will no longer host a conference champion, so they take the runners-up of the two most geographically friendly conferences—the Big 12 and Pacific-12.

Without a tie in with the SEC, the Fiesta Bowl could probably schedule their game for prime time on New Year's, although they will usually finish second to the Sugar Bowl.

Capital One Bowl

Currently an SEC-Big Ten bowl, I think it will become a Big Ten-ACC bowl.

Neither the SEC or Big Ten runner-up will be available. The three possibilities would be the ACC No. 2, Big Ten No. 3, and SEC No. 4 (with the Orange and Cotton locking in No. 2 and No. 3 from the SEC).

Without an SEC tie-in, the Capital One Bowl will be able to keep its current 1pm time slot.

Here's what New Year's Day football could look like in the future.

1pm ET

Cotton Bowl: SEC No. 2 or No. 3 versus Big 12 champion

Capital One Bowl: Big Ten No. 3 versus ACC No. 2

4:30pm ET

Rose Bowl: Big Ten champion versus Pacific-12 champion

Orange Bowl: ACC champion versus SEC No. 2 or No. 3

8pm ET

Sugar Bowl: SEC champion versus Big Ten No. 2

Fiesta Bowl: Pacific-12 No. 2 versus Big 12 No. 2

The top two ranked BCS teams will still play each other. But the conferences that lose their champions will always be able to choose someone from the same conference, rather than be forced to take a team they don't want.

The Orange Bowl will clearly benefit with SEC teams annually coming through.

The SEC will get a Big Ten team as opposed to schools from other conferences they have seen recently (Cincinnati, Utah and Hawaii in three of the last four years).

While the Fiesta Bowl will lose the Big 12 champion, they will get a Pac-12 team every year as opposed to getting stuck with Connecticut having to fly cross country.

If they get the No. 2 pick, they will never have to take West Virginia, unless they want to. If they remain No. 1, they are obligated to take the champion.

In fact, the Pac-12 will get two teams in New Year's Day bowls every year. Right now, the No. 2 Pac-12 team goes to the Alamo Bowl unless they are chosen for a BCS bowl.

While bowl teams may not be better, generally they will be more popular. I'd also like to have two bowl games on New Year's night rather than just one game.

The Mountain West and Conference USA might look like losers in this scenario.

Then again, if the BCS keeps the Big East automatic bid but does not give any to the MWC or Conference USA, chances are schools like Boise State and Houston will leave.

I think Central Florida may still go to the Big East, as they are isolated in Conference USA.

But most of these schools will stay put, so maybe the MWC and C-USA would rather this than the status quo.

Obviously, the Big East will be the biggest losers. I don't think anyone outside the Big East will care and most of the teams in the Big East want out.

As for the BCS, they no longer have to worry about accommodating all the conferences. While the BCS formula isn't perfect, it is not directly discriminating toward or against certain conferences like the current BCS system is.

In addition, imagine what a single "championship game" will go for in terms of bids from TV contracts.

ESPN, FOX, NBC and CBS will only have to bid for the game rather than take the four other lower-rated games. They will pay less for one game than for five games, but the price per game will skyrocket.

Also, the BCS can get bids from all cities rather than restrict it to the four current bowls. How much will Jerry Jones pay to host the game and not have to be part of the BCS rotation?

The proposal is not a playoff—a playoff would be far better. But this proposal is far better than what we have now, and I strongly urge the BCS to pass it. 

At the very least, we won't be stuck with Villanova versus SMU in basketball.


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