For those progressives who believe the BCS is an unworkable mess which should be scrapped unceremoniously in favor of a playoff, your arguments are nice and have many valid points. Although a college football playoff measure has apparently made it out of a U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee yesterday, the proponents of a playoff would get more mileage out of having it die procedurally rather than enduring a losing vote. University Presidents usually have direct lines to congressional representatives and will be heard. University Presidents control whether the BCS exists, absent legislation to the contrary. In the event you’re wondering, this post began before the legislative events.
Without taking a lengthy political detour, at least one trillion reasons exist as to why Congress should concern themselves with other matters, and if other legislation makes it through Congress, one trillion more will appear. Two trillion dollars is enough to make 1 out of every 150 men, women and children in the U.S. instant millionaires. For the BCS purpose, University Presidents are the better representatives with the power to deal with this issue.
Don’t hang up here because you think this is simply one more inequitable proposal. It incorporates much of what people want from a playoff into the current structure, but you need to consider it as a whole.
This post makes some tenuous assumptions that the reader has some knowledge of universities as institutions of learning, some idea of how university systems work (a few conversations with university administrators about any matter is adequate here), an inkling of the importance of tradition to universities, some history of the bowl system, a good grasp on why the BCS was created, and a really good grasp on the inner workings of the BCS rankings.
Bits and pieces of different proposals come together here to make a system workable for the foreseeable future, so to that extent, some of the ideas aren’t original. Hopefully, all of these things together are the right formula, and someone out there hasn’t proposed these very ideas together before now. These are only changes. Other rules which do not conflict with these would remain in place.
1. Institute a +1 National Championship Game, and the game remains, as it is currently known, as the BCS National Championship.
Reasoning: Changes below will narrow fairly the eligible teams for the BCS Championship.
2. Re-elevate the Cotton Bowl to the major level by making it a BCS Bowl game.
Reasoning: The Cotton Bowl has moved permanently to the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium and would have the backing of its owner. The BCS games would become the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Cotton Bowl.
3. The WAC and the Mountain West Conference Champions would play a single game for an automatic BCS berth. Currently neither conference has championship game while about half of the other conferences do.
4. The WAC and MWC would divide proceeds from the BCS berth game and the BCS game.
Reasoning: Here’s what the combination of these two proposals does. The WAC and MWC would now have revenue streams from two games that would be guaranteed yearly. Additional proposals do not prevent the loser or the other conference teams from obtaining a BCS appearance. In years like 2009 the conferences may not be as well-off under this proposal, but the reality is that two losses potentially separate two BCS appearances from no BCS appearances. But consider this. A BCS berth game would bring huge revenue from an individual television contract as it would be of national interest and more importantly bring interest from 10 different states. The Conferences could work out a mutually beneficial site or a home-and-home arrangement to divide stadium revenue. This kind of game would have a payout rivaling a BCS berth. Then too, the BCS revenue would bring additional revenue to the conferences.
Teams in conferences with Conference Championships already face National Championship elimination and play an extra game. It’s not a substantial requirement beyond expecting a team to win a division championship and then requiring it to win the Championship Game. The exposure would be good for the conferences.
Critics would no longer have the argument of WAC or MWC teams having to prepare for a single big game. For these conferences, a team’s inclusion in the National Championship mix is reachable.
5. For BCS Conference members a minimum of 9 games against opponents from BCS Conferences (including Conference Championship Games) will be required to be BCS Bowl Eligible. The BCS Conferences include the PAC 10, Big 10, Big East, Big 12, WAC, MWC, ACC and SEC.
Reasoning: This requirement of 9 BCS opponents is designed to level the playing field between conferences. The PAC 10 and Big 10 schools already play 9 BCS opponents by playing all conference opponents. ACC, SEC, MWC, and WAC schools would be required to play one BCS conference team outside of their conference schedule. Big East schools would be required to schedule two BCS schools outside their conference schedule to be BCS eligible. Independents would be under the same requirement.
Part of the reasoning here is that point margins were eliminated from computer consideration in 2002 leaving wins and losses as the primary drivers of BCS computer ratings. Strength of schedule matters but to a lesser degree. Wins and losses can be considered as setting the possible range of a team’s rating while the strength of schedule will help determine where in the range the team is ranked. Wins over weaker opponents benefit a team much more than the hit to a team’s strength of schedule rankings. This requirement would set a minimum reachable threshold for BCS eligible teams and ensures no team is able to count more than 3 wins against non-BCS opponents.
6. Of the teams eligible for an automatic berth in the BCS by virtue of a Conference Championship or the WAC-MWC berth game, after the Conference Championship Games and WAC-MWC berth games are played, the BCS rankings will determine seeds 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Reasoning: This will eliminate the possibility of a team who has not won its conference championship from playing for the National Championship. It eliminates two teams from a single conference from competing for the National Championship. Champions play Champions for a Championship.
7. The default tie-ins would include the WAC-MWC berth-game winner go to the Fiesta Bowl while the Big 12 would play in the newly-elevated Cotton Bowl.
Reasoning: Geographic proximity for fan travel.
8. Seed 1 will be paired with seed 4, and seed 2 with 3. The sites will generally be at the Bowl Games of seeds 1 & 2. (Details involving the Rose Bowl and PAC 10 & Big 10 Champions would need to be worked out.) The winners of these two games will play in the BCS National Championship Game.
9. All non-BCS Bowl Games will be played no later than December 31 and bowl games would be encouraged to spread throughout a Tuesday through Saturday schedule through the school winter breaks leading up to New Year’s Bowl Games. All 5 BCS Bowl Games will be played on January 1.
Reasoning: Nearly two weeks of nightly bowl games could be scheduled from the middle of December through December 31 with minimal conflict in Bowl Schedules. Television schedules are typically moving toward mid-season reruns. Players, traveling students and academia would limit lost academic time. Fans frequently schedule holiday time off making more weekday travel possible. Program exposure would be closer to being similar for each of the teams. College football could dominate the sports entertainment landscape through the holiday period leading to the culmination of the BCS Games on New Year’s Day.
10. The BCS National Championship Game will be played on the second Saturday in January.
Reasoning: Scheduling will typically allow more than 7 days preparation for the two teams.
11. USA Today and Harris Polls for BCS purposes will be conducted beginning in Week 6 of the college football season.
Reasoning: Pre-season expectations can keep an unworthy team with an unjustifiably high rank through typical weaker non-conference schedules. After the first 5 weeks, teams will have at least 4 games, some with conference opponents, before rankings are made “on the record.” Worthier teams are more likely to garner attention in the first 5 weeks and aren’t penalized for being good but not being known to be good. The ignorance is on the part of the person making the assessment, not the one being assessed.
12. Computer rankings will no longer include any reliance on human polling or pre-season computer rankings. Computer rankings may begin publication after Week 3 of the college football season and consider games beginning with Week 1.
Reasoning: Inclusion of human polling isn’t a bad idea for a computer ranking system as a general idea. While this change wouldn’t effect all computer-ranking systems, it’s intended to make the results more objective according to whatever method each employs. Human determinations would account for two-thirds of the BCS scores with this proposal. Three weeks of data before the published results and in advance of the human polling would draw attention to teams which might not otherwise garner consideration. Some will be persuaded. Others won’t.
13. Computer rankings are permitted and encouraged, but not required, to consider margins of victory of up to 17 points over BCS Top 25 teams beginning in Week 6.
Reasoning: Wins against Top 25 opponents are already included in some computer polls. A decisive victory over a ranked opponent should warrant greater consideration than a 1 point win. Considering what can happen in a very short time in a football game, a team scoring a late field goal or touchdown in the waning minutes of a game is insuring that the game is out of reach for its opponent even with a 14 point lead no matter how the game is played to that point. A three possession victory is worthy of additional consideration but currently forbidden.
Addressing Valid Points —
NoPlayoffs — 2) There are another 3 conferences in 1-A that have rights – perhaps legal rights – to insist upon inclusion. The establishment of a real playoff might incite action from them in the form of a credible anti-trust lawsuit.
Response — Conferences have rights — I don’t think that this is as great of a concern as some might make it to be. This is a particularly important area because I’ve seen commentators state that the BCS is an illegal cartel and have various other theories against it. I’ll try to address this complicated matter in a short rendition which won’t fully expound this point.
The BCS is a VOLUNTARY ASSOCIATION. How would any conference or school go about challenging the BCS? First the Conference or team would have to remove its association with the BCS or attempt to obtain separate entry into the same market. Next, the BCS would have to use its clout to muscle a lesser competitor from access to the market or the BCS would have to impose penalties on its member association for doing so. When those things happen, the game is on.
The best place to look for an example of the process is NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma, 468 U.S. 85 (1984) as found on FindLaw (Georgia was also involved.) This is the case in which television contracts were wrested from the control of the NCAA.
It taxes memories, but some of you may remember the CFA. CFA was created as an association of member NCAA schools who then bound together for the purposes of entering into a television rights contract. At the time, the NCAA limited the number of appearances schools could have on television and limited the number of games televised citing mainly that it was a matter of amateurism and concern over inability to fill stadiums. The NCAA responded against CFA schools with a sanction or threat of a sanction, and the CFA sued. Ultimately the CFA won.
I considered possibilities for Conference USA, Sunbelt and MAC. The reality of the college football world is that all schools and conferences aren’t created equally. When Bobby Petrino became the coach at Arkansas, I looked back through the Louisville program’s history. Louisville was in Conference USA and received an invitation to join the Big East. I can’t put my hands on articles that I read, but as I recall, there were specific conference criteria in terms of attendance, stadium size, etc. to be admitted.
Here’s a post which addresses some of those issues including Temple Football getting kicked out of the Big East. Now they’re part of the MAC.
I also follow Arkansas State Red Wolves who play in the Sunbelt and played Iowa this year to 3 points and beat Texas A&M last year.
Some of the issues involving those conferences can be seen in their bowl alignments. The Champion of Conference USA gets an appearance in the Liberty Bowl against SEC Team #7. It happens to be East Carolina and Arkansas this year. As their conference progresses, and I believe it can being very familiar with Houston and SMU as a Razorback fan, they’ll sign better football bowl contracts.
Ultimately the issue isn’t so much regarding “inclusion” with these conferences as it is a matter of “not excluding.” With this as a guide, I’ve tweaked #5 to read now that BCS Conferences must play at least 9 BCS Conference Schools.
Rules only require applicability to all members, not that all members will practically be able to participate. If you were a member of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and didn’t have the money to build a vehicle appropriate for racing you couldn’t compete. NASCAR let Michael Waltrip and others race because they met minimum requirements, but NASCAR’s not required to make rules so that they can win the Sprint Cup or even come in the Top 10 of any race.
For a football example, if Troy, a Sunbelt team, were to run the table this year, beating Florida and Arkansas along the way (they played both), if their BCS score was high enough, they should be in a BCS Bowl game.
Prof. Lew Troop — And then there are those such as myself who would like to eliminate the Championships altogether. Solves the Play off problem as well.
Response — Listening to a sports radio show on the way home, the host made the comment of something along the lines of, “Should Brian Kelley stay at Cincinnati to play in a meaningless BCS Game against Florida or should he leave to South Bend now?”
He actually said it, but I didn’t put the two together until your comment. In some measure, the search for a National Champion has ruined why we watched the Bowls before the BCS.
If your team was sitting at No. 6 in the polls with the five teams ahead of your team playing in major bowls, if your team won, you cared about the other games! You wanted teams 1-5 to lose so that Voters would be persuaded to vault your winning squad up to No. 1. Even after the games were over, many times there could be a mystery as to where the crown would go, and then the season was over with the Polls “crowning their champions.”
In terms of keeping teams in the discussion for a National Championship, the old way was great. The BCS drama occurs on the final weekend of the regular season as if it were a plateau before the summit climb. Most of the party will set up camp on the plateau while only a few expeditioners make an assault on the summit.
Catch 5 — I don’t like the MWC-WAC idea, only because the only relevant team to ever come from the WAC is Boise. I’d rather make a 12-team BCS conference from the better teams of the two, and a smaller Sun Belt-type conference from the rest. Love the Cotton idea, it is a big-name bowl that has lost it’s flavor in the BCS era.
aajoe7 — One thing to add: under your format, the Big Ten is required to either add or subtract one team. a 9-game league schedule in present form is mathematically impossible. Which do you think they should do? And what teams get added to the Big East?
theknightswhosay — I don’t agree with making the WAC and MWC quasi-BCS conferences. I’d rather the BCS/non-BCS distinction be abolished, but if it isn’t, I think the other non-BCS conferences should be treated equally. We could easily end up with a deserving CUSA team, for instance. It wasn’t that long ago when there were very good MAC teams as well.
Response — It would be disingenuous for me to say that I haven’t written similar sentiments, Catch 5.Congress to Help Utes’ BCS Dreams !! where I proposed an SEC West schedule for Utah. The extra game propels one school to the BCS and eliminates another. Part of the criticism of WAC and MWC schools are that they don’t have a grueling schedule to endure and that they only have to be better for one, single, solitary game. Under my proposal, teams will have to be better for at least 2 games and sometimes 3 to win the National Championship.
The teams who garner national attention in WAC and MWC have been Boise and Hawaii in the WAC and TCU, BYU, Utah, and every so often Air Force, out of the MWC.
But a large part of their arguments, and arguments like jackross makes (which I’ll address later), are that they can’t produce enough revenue to divide among member schools so that they can effectuate improvements to their programs and facilities so that they can recruit the athletes to their schools. Plainly all schools aren’t equal in terms of resources. In my example concerning Louisville football above, Cardinal football will always be fourth on the list in Louisville behind Horse Racing, Louisville Basketball, and sippin’ Bourbon Whiskey.
I agree that conferences ultimately may need to realign (including Big East Football), but a program’s commitment to football is at the heart of the matter. More conference revenue to each conference could reasonably result in conferences raising or enforcing standards for inclusion. When some organization provides money to its members, it typically expects for the member to make efforts on its own, or “why the hell are we giving you all this money if you don’t want to do anything to improve yourself.”
One of the streams of money wouldn’t come from the pockets of other schools in the WAC-MWC proposal. Elevating the Cotton Bowl, and having a National Championship game would allow some room for inclusion of the two conferences.
But this leads into another aspect of “Teams per BCS revenue opportunity.” As aajoe7 has recognized, there’s a disparity in revenue sharing among teams within a conference. The BCS berth proposal would divvy money among 18 teams whereas the Big East teams, with the same payout, divide it only 8 ways.
The requirement for BCS Conference teams to play 9 BCS Conference teams is really aimed at the Big East more than anyone. 8 teams in the conference result in 7 conference games each, leaving 5 games to fill on their schedules. Because wins count more than strength of schedule, there needs to be some assurance that Big East teams wouldn’t load up on a Sunbelt or MAC schedule for Ws. I glanced at the schedules and honestly, I didn’t see a team which didn’t play at least 9 BCS Conference opponents.
Ideally, the Big 10 and PAC 10 would realign to 12 member schools with two divisions and a championship game. Structurally, the conference champions would play the same number of games in order to produce a single champion. If they wanted to do so, I think that would be wonderful. On the other hand, Arkansas started the conference realignments about 17-18 years ago. As a Razorback fan, only within the last couple of years have rivalries started to develop and even then, they are lesser rivalries.
Requiring either of those venerable conferences to realign would be an enormous break with tradition as the SEC did.
Practically, the Big 10, PAC 10 and Big East are taking calculated risks in the BCS structure by NOT having championship games. Their champions sit back and frequently the field above them narrows by attrition, but sometimes the field doesn’t because teams leap-frog over them.
All in all tradition-rich PAC10 and Big 10 make the landscape more interesting by not having a championship game. The question will always remain whether their positions will favor their teams.
With all that Big East football has endured (see the article cited above) it seems to remain one step above a survival position. Geographically, I don’t see where its going to lure any major football programs into the league, and it’s difficult to see where 2-4 mid-majors will be able to make the jump. I know of one school which might be able to make the jump.
I don’t know if University of Central Florida has the football devotion or not, but the school boasts more than 50,000 students and to my understanding is one of the top schools in terms of students. That’s a tremendous fan base if it otherwise has the will.
The BCS has a “Big East Rule” already which the conference has met. But it still doesn’t seem quite equitable.
I wasn’t unmindful of those issues. I just don’t think they can be addressed within a short time.
On the whole, I believe my most of my proposals are things which can be implemented without great difficulty in as little as one year and overall, considering Bowl rescheduling, over 3 years.
jackross — 1) As I understand it, your system retains the automatic bids to BCS games for certain conferences. Why should there be any automatic bids? The goal should be to include the best teams in the playoff regardless of conference affiliation. The current BCS system is stacked in favor of the major revenue-producing conferences. …
As I suggested in a piece yesterday, why not identify the top 8 teams based on something like the BCS rating system, and put them in a playoff. The quarterfinals would be the four major bowl games on January 1, followed by a semifinal game the following weekend and the championship game in mid January. This would end the argument that worthy teams are excluded; I can’t recall a season when there were as many as 8 undefeated teams. What is wrong with two teams from the same conference making the playoff? If there was an 8-team playoff this year, should Florida be excluded? NFL teams can win the Super Bowl without winning their division. What’s the difference?
Response — First, I tweaked #5 to more of my intent so I’ve omitted the middle part.
3rdStone mentioned “fixed.” You’ve mentioned “stacked in favor of the major-revenue producing conferences.”
If you contend that the money is stacked in favor of major revenue-producing conferences, then show me the amount of money paid by networks for WAC, MWC, Sunbelt, MAC, and Conference USA football together. The dollars the networks will pay is driven by the amount of advertising revenue they anticipate producing from the contract. It’s some measure of the demand for the football product.
Let me put it this way… You and I have a business. We do exactly the same tasks of standing on the sidewalk with sandwich boards strapped over our shoulders advertising restaurants. Your work earns $75 per day. I work and earn $25 per day. If we divided the money equally, we’d each have $50. That’s nice. If you got rid of me, you’d have $75. If there were some intangible benefits to the partnership which you thought were worthy, you’d probably propose that you should take home $65 per day, and I would take home $35 per day.
If you contend that the BCS formula is stacked in favor of the major revenue-producing conferences, then show me where the formula FAVORS teams from any conference.
If anything, teams from less competitive conferences ARE FAVORED under the BCS formula because their Wins are achieved against lesser competition. Wins are everything in the BCS system. They’re like the guy who takes Physical Education, Intro to Sociology, College Algebra, and non-majors Biology who gets his name on the Dean’s List while you’re taking majors Chemistry, Calculus 1, Macro-economics, and Statistics and almost scoring a 3.0.
At least from this year, if you look at Massey’s index of all of the major computer ranking services you’ll find that Alabama, Florida, Texas, TCU and Cincinnati are in the top 8 of all but a few of them. Massey IndexThat’s more than 100 different services. Of the other three teams, they are in the majority of the services’ rankings but become more hit and miss.
Your way is fine with me. My SEC still has two teams in the final 8 and could end up with an all SEC final… or maybe not.
Then too, I’ll need air fare, tickets, accommodations, and a rental for three weeks in a row to follow my championship team. If I take me and another person….. let’s see…. $400 in air travel at least for each game, $300 in tickets for each game, $200 for hotel, $80 for a rental, and say $150 for incidentals each game. That would be $1200 +$900+$600+$240+$450 for a total of $3,400 right after Christmas. Ok. That’s fine. I can hang.
How can permitting multiple teams from major conferences do anything but make the rich, richer?
How can conceivably extending the practice time, television exposure, and schedules for the best teams in the country by two more weeks fail to produce teams whose players are more experienced or programs who are more featured?
Why wouldn’t the best players in the country want to go where the light is the brightest?
By the end of the day, the system will have jettisoned decades of tradition and become more exclusive than is currently perceived.