BCS Football: Festivus & the Airing of Grievances

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BCS Football: Festivus & the Airing of Grievances

I have long opposed the BCS. The foolish idea that college football could determine a national champion by voting is laughable. Even more absurd is having groups such as coaches and media members determine the national champion participants.

The coaches truly do not have time to watch all games, as well as have a vested interest in the outcome (see Bob Stoops). The media do not watch all games, and rely on highlights from ESPN to help them with their ballot. What a joke of a system.

If you have not yet done so, please do yourself a favor and read Stewart Mandel’s Bowls, Polls, & Tattered Souls. There are so many quotes throughout the book detailing the idiocy of how college football determines its national champion, but here are two that I believe sum up why the current system is a sham:

Why not the coaches, you ask? Read what longtime playoff advocate Penn State head coach Joe Paterno said , after his Penn State team was defeated by undefeated Michigan in 1997. “I have somebody who helps me with the voting, and we didn’t vote Michigan No.1…that bothered me.” (page 44 of the hardcover edition). I have a feeling you can now count on Texas' Mack Brown, as well as USC's Pete Carroll, as being in the playoff crowd.

Why not the media, you ask? Read what Daily Oklahoman columnist Jenni Carlson wrote regarding the impact the media has on college football, in comparison to other sports: “In no other sport do media types have say or sway. Not basketball, not baseball, not softball, not anything.” (page 48 of the hardcover edition).

While President-Elect Obama has admiringly called for an eight-team playoff, the eight-team model would not properly include all conference champions (there are 11 conferences in Division 1 football).

For the Plus-1 advocates, such as ESPN's Beano Cook: How do you determine the top four? Under that system, Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, and Alabama would be the qualifiers. What about USC? Penn State? Utah? Boise State? Texas Tech? As you can see, there's no fair way to determine who the top four teams would be in that scenario.

Under my scenario, a 16-team playoff would be the fairest method to determine a true national champion in Division 1 football. What are the benefits to this system?

A traditional argument is, "The regular season would be rendered meaningless with a playoff system". If the only sure way to get in to the playoffs was winning your conference, that makes those regular season games very meaningful, wouldn’t you say? And under my system, not just one non-BCS conference (such as Utah this year), but all conference champions would get a shot at the title. My system is far more inclusive.

OK, so you have 11 conference champions. What about the next five? Using the average of the BCS computer rankings, five at-large teams could be seeded.

Growing up and living in Ohio, and being a football fanatic for all levels, I have always enjoyed and respected how Ohio high school football teams are selected for the postseason.

High school football teams in Ohio are based exclusively on computer points, with no biases or voting involved. Does the local media have polls ranking area high school teams? Absolutely, but they have no say in determining if a team will be in the state football playoffs.

It is purely a strength of schedule type system that rewards teams that play demanding schedules, while potentially penalizing those teams that do not play any tough opponents. It is not uncommon for teams to have a 6-4 or 7-3 regular season record and be selected for the Ohio high school playoffs over a 10-0 team that played weaker teams.

Using the computer rankings, the following five teams would be in the 16-team playoff: Texas, Alabama, Texas Tech, TCU, and Ohio State. Again, this scenario is rewarding one-loss teams such as Texas, Alabama, and Texas Tech, while also being more inclusive with TCU of the Mountain West Conference getting an at-large shot.

Seedings would be determined exclusively on the computer rankings. The first round of the playoff system would have games at the home field of the higher seeded team. By doing so, it could open up scenarios where warm-weather teams could go into a cold-weather site and see how well they could do.

The second round would be the traditional big four bowl games, with one notable addition—The Cotton Bowl. Once the Dallas Cowboys move into their new stadium, The Cotton Bowl would be a logical candidate for the BCS.

Using the seedings, the first round could look something like this:

No. 1 Oklahoma (Big XII) vs No. 16 Troy (Sun Belt)
No. 2 Texas (At-Large No. 1) vs No. 15 Buffalo (MAC)
No. 3 Florida (SEC) vs No. 14 East Carolina (Conference USA)
No. 4 Texas Tech (At-Large No. 2) vs No. 13 Virginia Tech (ACC)
No. 5 Utah (Mountain West) vs No. 12 Cincinnati (Big East)
No. 6 Alabama (At-Large No. 3) vs No. 11 Ohio State (At-Large No. 5)
No. 7 USC (Pac-10) vs No. 10 TCU (At-LargeNo. 4)
No. 8 Boise State (WAC) vs No. 9 Penn State (Big Ten)
Hypothetically, if the top seeds won out, the second round could look something like this on January 1st:

The Fiesta Bow: Oklahoma vs Boise State
The Rose Bowl: USC vs Texas
The Sugar Bowl: Florida vs Alabama
The Cotton Bowl: Texas Tech vs Utah

Do you think any of those match-ups might be selling tickets for $1?

The Orange Bowl could be the semi-finals on January 8th, with the national championship there on January 15th.

Yes, I know—unrealistic.

Will never happen.

But in this holiday season, forgive me if don't ask Santa Claus to deliver this one under my tree. Hey, at least I have something worthwhile with my Festivus pole and this year's Airing Of Grievances to direct at the NCAA athletic directors and university presidents for their foolish lack of a playoff system. At the very worst, now I have a reason to write my congressman.

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