Get out your boxing gloves – uhh, I mean your crash pads. College football fans everywhere are engaged in a healthy debate over the best system for determining the National Football Champion: a playoff system or the BCS system.
The 1997 College football season was particularly controversial, during which time Michigan was denied the unanimous national championship title. In the final coaches’ poll Nebraska was also awarded the title after beating Tennessee 42 – 17. The 1997 National Football Championship was split. There was a tie for first place. Not good.
In an attempt to establish an objective team ranking system, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was instituted in 1998. The goal of the BCS is to select the top two teams in the nation to compete in a National Championship Game.
The BCS system uses a complex combination of computer selections and polls to establish the overall ranking of each team. Once the field is narrowed to the two teams that will compete in the National Championship Game, the four coveted bowl games are then selected from the remaining top ten teams. While all of this sounds reasonable in theory, the BCS is a flawed system. The National Championship should be decided on the field, not by polls and computers. We all know, and history has proven, that rarely does a team that ranks number one in the pre-season poll actually finish number one.
Close call: also remember a few years ago how close an Ohio State versus Michigan rematch was considered for the BCS National Championship Game. Thankfully it did not happen. Both teams were over-ranked and were butchered in their own bowl games. There are countless examples that illustrate the flaws in polls.
A playoff system provides a true, undisputed champion by eliminating inequities in the conferences.
Neither the PAC 10 nor the Big Ten has a conference championship game so they have an unfair advantage; there is one less ‘tough’ team they have to play. Also certain conference champions have an advantage because they play in weaker conferences. For example the Big Ten, the Big East and the ACC are all weak conferences.
It is harder for certain conference teams to make it to the National Championship Game due to the fact that they have to play an additional, and usually very tough, Conference Championship Game.
The Big East didn’t even have a team ranked in the preseason top 20, yet their conference champion automatically gets to play in a BCS bowl game. This locks out much better teams from other conferences that could possibly get to a BCS game – but may not, because they have to play better teams.
All other college sports have a playoff.
A playoff system works for other college football levels so it could work for major college football as well. The system would broaden the possible national championship winners thereby giving more meaning and excitement to the football season.
BCS system is flawed by holes which are prejudicial.
The flaws of the BCS are demonstrated by the Utah example. Utah was the only undefeated team at the end of 2008. They convincingly beat a great Alabama team. Yet they were shut out of the national championship because there was no playoff. Polls play a role in the BCS formula. And we all know that polls are biased.
Recent selections for the BCS championship game have been controversial.
Selections for national championship games are very controversial. During the 2008 college football season, Texas and Oklahoma both finished the regular season with one loss each. Texas beat Oklahoma on a neutral field. Yet Oklahoma was selected to go to the National Championship Game. If there was a playoff they would have both been included in the playoff and the true winner would have been fairly determined.
A playoff could incorporate the current bowl system.
Take the four major bowls and slot them with the top 8 ranked teams. Then take the 4 teams that remain standing and have a true playoff. The winner would have just beaten 3 straight ‘great’ teams. There is your champion. Problem solved!
Okay Eddie, I wrote the article. Now, where are you taking me to dinner?!
My sports-crazed and very opinionated husband, who also prompted me to write this article about the game of Half Rubber and this article about a kid’s love of Major League Baseball.