Bowling for Controversy

Behind The BCS Ranking Madness

This year’s BCS National Championship Game match up has not been received with the warmest welcome. Some argue that a two-loss team should not be in the championship game. Neither should a team that only sat around for two additional Saturday’s watching teams drop causing their own squad to move up in the rankings.

Is the BCS selection process fair or unfair seems to be the question. Or would a playoff series leading to a championship game make it more sensible to the fans?

ESPN.com columnist Gregg Easterbrook states, “If a bracket-format Division I-A postseason were launched, we’d adjust. But there would be a lot of nostalgia for the bowls, with their years-in-advance scheduling that solves so many logistical problems.”

Avid college football fan Rawn Bosley, believes that a playoff system would settle the debate of who is the best team. “With a playoff we would be able to see head to head competitions with only one true champion. This sounds like the best idea but it’s not practical,” says Bosley. “That would make teams like LSU and Virginia Tech play potentially 16 games, an NFL season. That’s not fair. Also, athletic directors would never let it happen due to the potential pay cut from this playoff system.”

A team thought of to be unfairly ousted from the post-season experience is Missouri; a team that finished sixth in the rankings but will make no major bowl game appearance.

More so, if an undefeated Hawaii team in the WAC Conference cannot even make it into the championship game, then what is the final decision based on? Sad to say, it is mainly revolves around money, ticket sales and audience appeal.

College football fans thrive off of brand name teams in standout conferences such as The Ohio State University, University of Florida, University of Southern California and University of Michigan in the Big Ten, SEC and Pac-10 respectively.

Easterbrook says, “the BCS system has proved highly attractive to the football-factory schools because it operates on a socialized premise, replicating the socialized revenue sharing that makes the NFL so strong financially. In the NFL, television revenue, the primary source of income, is simply divided 32 ways — each year, the worst team receives exactly as much television money as the best team. In the BCS format, the bulk of the money is divided equally among conference teams, the worst team of the year receiving as much as the bowl-bound teams.”

The BCS has been in place since the 1998 season. The top two teams are given automatic berths in the BCS National Championship Game and the champion of a BCS conference (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10, and SEC) is guaranteed an automatic BCS bowl bid unless two other teams from their own conference finish #1 and #2 in the final BCS rankings. However, not all BCS conferences have title games, a trend that the SEC began in 1992.

The current BCS format consists of four bowl games (Fiesta, Rose, Orange and Sugar) and the National Championship Game. There are also 27 non-BCS bowls.

From 1998-2003, the BCS formula was based on four qualities: poll average between the AP Poll and the ESPN/USA TODAY coaches’ poll, computer average, strength of schedule and losses in the regular season. Since 2004, the formula is now centered around the AP Poll, the Coaches’ Poll and the computer average.

Although controversies of how teams are selected and ranked will continue to arise, the BCS has proven successful since its inception. The BCS format system is currently scheduled to end after the 2010 season, but it is possible that it can be extended.