Tuesday, November 21, 2006

BCS = Bull Chip Series

It never ceases to amaze me that our species has lasted as long as we have. There are many great things that we have done with this world... but far too often, very simple things get screwed up. And more often than not, when we try to fix them, we make them worse. HOW, when often times the answer be an obvious one, do groups of human beings go a different route?

This is but a minor example, but we've managed to mangle my favorite sport of college football for the last eight years, going on nine. For the one or two non-sports fans that might come across this, the NCAA created the Bowl Championship Series, which started in 1998, with the intention of crowning one national champion in division 1-A. How could there not have been a system in place to crown a champion before that you ask? Well, college bowl games have been around for almost as long as college football itself. They are steeped in tradition ( which tends to be a big deal when it comes to college sports ), and for many years the teams, coaches, players, administrators and the like, relied on a poll at years end to determine the winner of the national championship.

This system seemed to work JUST fine for about a hundred years. Every so often, the number one and number two ranked teams would HAPPEN to meet in a bowl game, and then there was a true 'championship' game - but that didn't happen all that often. Sometime back, there was a second poll introduced to the national scope, and for the most part, the two polls agreed. One poll by the media, and one poll by the actual coaches themselves. In the event they disagreed, two schools would 'claim' they'd won the national title.

So some bigwigs had a great idea. And the idea, in and of itself, is a spectacular idea. Their idea was that there should be a system in place that KEEPS the traditions of the bowl games, and makes sure that the number one and number two ranked teams meet at the end of the year. Sounds great, right?

But how do you go about it? Those same bigwigs thought they'd make it as CONFUSING as possible. They decided to take the media poll, the coaches poll, seven different computer rankings, factor in strength of schedule, and also factor in margin of victory. Those were the initial criteria in the first BCS ratings system.

On the surface, might look okay. But look again. Computer rankings. Seven of them. Written by seven different people. Each with their own set of criteria in how a team should be ranked. Of course, I'm biased, a computer can't watch a game, so I've never liked computer rankings. But looking further, they took into account margin of victory. College football used to be a civil place. You didn't see teams running up the score in the modern era, cuz you knew you'd have to play that team next year. Now, if you didn't hang half a hund-y on someone, you'd get punished in the polls. The third string kids at Florida used to look forward to playing Western Kentucky State. Now, the starters have to stay in till the fourth quarter.

Over the years, the BCS has tweaked the criteria used to determine the rankings. Most of the time, this is reactive tweaking. In the 2000 season, Nebraska and Miami met in the national championship game. The trouble with the 2001 Rose Bowl that season, was that Nebraska wasn't even the champion of the conference it was in. But mathematically, they retained the number two ranking - despite not even being a consensus number two in the human polls.

And I feel they're never going to get it right. I'm not here to discuss that a playoff system would be the right answer ( but it would be a better answer ). Even now, eight years later, they are no closer to getting it right. The current situation with 1 vs 2 is a whole 'nother post, so I'm going to bitch about the rest of the system. The current rules say that to be eligible for a BCS bowl game ( either the Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, or Orange bowl ), you need to win 9 games, and be ranked AT LEAST in the top 14 of the final BCS rankings. This was done to insure that teams from conferences that don't normally participate in those bowls, had a chance at the big stage.

The conference tie ins are still in place, so as long as the winner of the Big Ten is in the top 14, they'll get a bid to the Rose Bowl. But an interesting case is brewing this year. Ohio State is going to the national championship game. Normally, the Rose Bowl would get to pick OSU, but because they're in the championship game, the Rose Bowl gets to pick an at-large team from the BCS. They will more than likely select Michigan, a fellow big ten team. This is fine with me, because Michigan earned a BCS bid.

But there's a chance that Michigan will be ranked number 2 in the BCS, which means that the Rose Bowl will have to pick someone else. You want to know who they CAN'T select, even though this team will be in the top 14? Wisconsin. In fact, there's a chance that Wisconsin could go as high as sixth in the BCS. But they're not eligible for a BCS game.

The BCS says that three teams from the same conference cannot receive bids. WHY NOT? If the Badgers finish as high as sixth in the rankings, why should Auburn, ranked at 12 get a bid over them?

Rules, for the sake of rules, are stupid. If you put together the rankings of teams - don't make rules that say your rankings apply "only in these cases". If the Badgers are sixth in the BCS rankings, THEY SHOULD GET A SPOT.

This is really easy. Either use the system that you used for a hundred years and keep the bowls - or create a playoff system. If the powers that be can't see after eight freaking years that this isn't going to work, they should be punched in the mouth.

The world will run alot smoother when I'm in charge.


At 8:57 PM, Blogger Nort said...

Half a fiddy?

Isn't that, like uh, 25?

At 9:46 PM, Blogger Kuflax said...

Chalk that up to bad editing. I changed the sentance a couple of times. It was late, and I was working on some Apple Spice. Oops.

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Nort said...

It's spelled 'sentence'.

Sorry, I haven't had a web site to QC in a while. :)


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