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College Football - How to Fix the BCS 101

By John McManus
Wednesday, October 31st, 2001

The BCS is one of the most controversial topics in all of sports. The BCS, of course, stands for Bowl Championship Series and in it's three years of existence, it has successfully determined the Division I-A college football national champion. Still, it has faced all sorts of scrutiny and criticism, including mine. Why? Because it really does stin... no, let me stop. Let me just say that I have a number of expletives to describe the acronym "BCS", but let's not go there. I propose a new system (other than a playoff, which unfortunately looks like will never happen, due to greed and stubbornness).

Much like Oklahoma did last season, Tennessee bailed out the BCS in the 1998 season by beating Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl and finishing with an unblemished record. You can't argue with undefeated in any system. Oklahoma and Tennessee were unquestionably the champions of college football in their respective seasons. The BCS had completed it's objective. The BCS was lucky. What if Florida State had won in both instances? In both cases Florida State came into the bowl game with one loss and was a controversial number two in the BCS rankings. The Seminoles bailed out the system both times by losing to the only undefeated team in the country. In fact, Florida State also did its duty in winning the championship with a perfect season of its own in 1999.

Will four times also be charm for the BCS? Well, it won't have Florida State to bail them out this year, as the 'Noles already have two losses and with three unbeaten teams remaining in major college football, chances are that we're going to have some more controversy as to who belongs in that elusive title game.

I have a simple plan to come up with a deserving national champion, while maintaining the tradition and significance of all the major bowl games. The BCS might work with the following criteria:

  • 1. Keep the same four bowls (Fiesta, Orange, Rose, and Sugar).
  • 2. Select six power conference champions and two at-large teams.
  • 3. Pair the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions in the Rose Bowl, regardless of ranking (just like the old times).
  • 4. Remember when the Orange Bowl took the Big 8 champion and the Sugar Bowl took the Southeastern Conference champion? Well, do that again, with the Big 12 champion in the Orange Bowl.
  • 5. Remaining teams get paired based on BCS ranking.
  • 6. After all the bowls are played, you take the four major bowl winners, apply the BCS formula only to them to determine the top two teams who would then play in a national championship game to take place about a week later.

Nothing is too different from the current system, except for item No. 6, but that one item would improve things significantly. Let's take last season as an example:

  • The Orange Bowl would take Oklahoma (#1 seed).
  • The Sugar Bowl would take Florida (#6 seed).
  • The Rose Bowl would match up Washington (#4 seed) and Purdue (#8 seed).
  • The lowest remaining seed, Notre Dame (#7), would play Oklahoma.
  • The next lowest, Florida, would play the highest remaining seed, Florida State (#2).
  • Finally, Oregon State (#5 seed) and Miami (#3 seed) would hook up in the Fiesta Bowl.

Let's summarize:

  • Orange Bowl: Oklahoma (1) vs. Notre Dame (7)
  • Sugar Bowl: Florida State (2) vs. Florida (6)
  • Fiesta Bowl: Miami (3) vs. Oregon State (5)
  • Rose Bowl: Washington (4) vs. Purdue (8)

The bowls would serve as a quarterfinal round. If you lose, you're out. Thus, every game would mean something toward the national championship. Let's take the game with the lowest combined seeds, the Rose Bowl. Even this game would have national title implications because of #4 seed Washington. If two of the top three seed got upset, Washington would almost be assured a spot in the national championship game.

This brings us to the next step. Applying the BCS formula to the four winning teams would serve as a semifinal round. The formula is so wacky, that it might actually be as exciting as playing the games. This would result in a national championship game, approximately a week later.

Will this championship game interfere with the NFL playoffs?

No. The NFL plays its playoff games in the afternoon. This game can be nationally televised in primetime.

Will it interfere with class time?

No. Most colleges are in the middle of winter recess.

Will it cause controversy?

Yes, but what doesn't in college sports? Bubble teams on the wrong end of the bubble cry in March about not getting into the NCAA Tournament field of 64. Bottom line: it would certainly cause less controversy that what we have now in college football.

So come on NCAA, at least consider this!

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Comments? Agree? Disagree? Send in your feedback about this article.

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