Adjusting the BCS: Why a Plus-One System Makes the Most Sense

jim butterfieldContributor IDecember 11, 2009

MIAMI - JANUARY 08:  Ryan Stamper #41 of the Florida Gators gets the crowd fired up during the FedEx BCS National Championship Game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Dolphin Stadium on January 8, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Much has been made over the current BCS system and its perceived biases towards the larger conference schools. However, the majority of proposed postseason systems are prepared by short-sighted people as a knee-jerk reaction to a recent, unpopular decision

Sportswriters and fans from around the United States suggest grandiose 64-team tournaments similar to that of college basketball. Do they realize the consequences of adding an additional 6 games to the season? Does a 19 game season sound reasonable when non-playoff teams play only 12? If not, what games are to be eliminated?

Eliminating the FCS games further expands the gap between the subdivisions. These games generate necessary income for the smaller schools of the FCS division as well as tremendous exposure with little to no negative ramifications.

Non-conference games maintain longterm rivalries, create extremely marketable matchups for schools, and help gauge the relative strengths of each conference. How can teams from different conferences be ranked against one another if they never play outside their conference?

The elimination of conference games would further muddy the conference championship picture. Is having split champions in a 12-team conference a good thing? What about non-playoff teams only playing a 8-10 game season? Is screwing the vast majority of college football for the sake of two or three teams a logical idea?

All of the questions are commonly ignored and avoided by the common playoff system advocate who fanatically campaigns a system that would prevent their favorite team being "screwed." While not evident upon a brief initial glance, a playoff system results in a ripple effect that will impact 242 different programs.

This is not to say the BCS system is perfect. It is far from it. However, certain changes can be made to account for the various problems that come up. A Plus-One System eliminates a significant portion of the margin of error present in the current BCS System without causing an excessive addition to the season length.

These several regulations would more then likely improve the BCS structure.

1. The participants in the National Championship must be either conference champions or an independent.

There is no legitimate explanation for allowing a team that did not even win its conference to compete for the National Championship other then this rule currently gives the larger conferences a better chance at putting two teams in the BCS bowls. This regulation would eliminate the controversy that was seen in 2002 with Miami/Nebraska/Colorado/Oregon and in 2004 with LSU/Oklahoma/USC.

2. Automatic BCS bowl bids will be awarded to the top 6 conferences, using a similar system to the team rankings.

Rather then assume that the top six conferences are the same each and every year, this regulation puts emphasis on interconference competition and the changing environment of the FBS division.

Conferences will be encouraged not only to play out of conference games but against worthy, legitimate opponents. Since the rankings will include a strength of schedule and other variables, teams will not simply pick on lesser opponents simply to bolster their overall win-loss record.

3. The BCS Bowl schedule will include the traditional Fiesta, Sugar, Orange, and Rose Bowls as well as two semifinal games and a National Championship game.

The Traditional Bowls will maintain their own individual tie-ins as long as their respective conference member is eligible for selection and is not participating in the national championship. Thus, if Florida is eligible for a BCS bowl bid, the Sugar Bowl would be able to select them as a traditional tie-in.

4. Increase the number of BCS Bowl bids to 12.

This maintains the current structure of the traditional bowls as well as adds in a four-team playoff system to determine a national champion and eliminate any controversy.

5. De-emphasize the coaches' and media polls and add in additional common opponent and head to head factors to the computer rankings.

The current system strongly encourages coaches to rank eligible teams in their conference higher then those who are not due to the collective payout received from the bowl that is distributed amongst the conference.

The media poll consistently possesses a regional bias and members of the media generally have little to no exposure to the game of football. It is illogical to have a group of inexperienced people making decisions on a game the majority of them have never played or coached in at any higher level.

In the last set of BCS rankings, both Oregon and Boise State had the same computer ranking, despite Boise State winning the head to head matchup. If two teams have identical records and have played each other during the season, then the winning team should be ranked ahead.

This is simply a logical decision and even if the winning team had lost to some other lesser opponent, it make no sense to rank them below the team they beat.

Again, the plus-one system is not without controversy. This season, there are five undefeated programs, meaning that one would be left out in a plus-one. However, this is a more logical option then the exclusion of three undefeated teams or an excessively lengthy tournament.

The plus-one allows for teams to continue to play their 12 game regular seasons, play conference championship games, limits travel expenses, minimizes any significant disparity in schedule lengths between non-playoff and playoff teams, and maintains the traditional bowl system. To this date, there is no viable alternative which presents a better argument.

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