College Football Controversy – You Be The Judge!

Posted: May 31, 2010 in General Sports, NCAA Football
Tags: , , , , ,

Guest Blogger: CJ Oates (@Oates_2) 

Ever since it’s introduction, the BCS system has been a hot topic of controversy. Numerous non-BCS schools (Conf-USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt, WAC) have been getting the short end of the stick when it comes to getting a bid for a National Championship.  Now this prompts some fans to want to solve the problem by implementing a playoff system, which I think is ridiculous. I’ll tell you why later, but right now I want to give a background on the whole college football championship. Since the creation of the Bowl Championship Series, the top two teams according to the AP poll have met eight out of eleven seasons.  That stat shows that the BCS has actually been working.  The teams that play for the BCS championship are decided by averaging three elements: the Harris Intercollegiate Football Poll, the USA TODAY Coaches’ Poll (which replaced the Associated Press Poll in 2005), and the average of six different computer rankings.

Fans argue that the teams selected to play for the National Championship are not always the two best teams.  For example, in 2003 the top three teams in the country finished the season with one loss each. USC was ranked number one by the two human polls, but the computer ratings placed USC at number three and thereby excluded them from competing in the National Championship. The AP poll chose USC as the National Champion while the coaches’ poll selected LSU resulting in a split National Championship in 2003. Not only do fans use that excuse in the case of a one loss team, but from 1998-2008, nine undefeated teams were excluded from the BCS National Championship game while teams with one or more losses were included. Eight of those nine teams were non-BCS schools. The one instance in which we had an undefeated BCS school (Auburn) not selected for the National Championship game occurred in 2004 when two other BCS schools (USC and Oklahoma) were also undefeated.

Another example of teams being kept out of the National Championships despite finishing the regular season undefeated were Utah and Boise State.  While these two programs were left without answers, several other teams that posted one or more losses were allowed to compete for college football’s top honor.  This only fuels the debate about the fairness of using the BCS rankings to choose the top two teams. Fans of a playoff system argue that this is the only fair way to determine the true number one team each year. Other fans like me argue that the current BCS system is in the best interest of the athletes, fans, and sponsors because the bowl games generate such large profits for universities and their local economies.  By avoiding a playoff system it also keeps the season shorter so that student-athletes can focus more of their attention on their schoolwork.

With the background information on this issue now behind us, I will now proceed to give you some facts on why the BCS is BETTER than a playoff system. Prior to the formation of the BCS, the number one and number two teams met in bowl games only eight times in 56 seasons. Who wants to see the number ten team dual the number four team instead of the number one team against the number two? It is like college basketball; why would you want to see Butler vs. Duke when everybody in their right mind wants to watch Kansas vs. Kentucky. Like I mentioned above, The BCS is the best format to match-up the nation’s top two teams in a bowl game. Then you have the BCS Championship game popularity. BCS television ratings regularly surpass the NCAA basketball finals, the NBA playoffs and the World Series. Yeah that’s right; it surpasses the other three major sporting events that include a “playoff” type system.  Another thing, why mess with a unique American holiday tradition?  Everybody knows that from Dec. – Jan. only two things matter: Christmas and the College Bowl season. I know personally, after my football season, I am thinking about watching the bowl games over winter break. The bowl experience is enjoyed by 68 colleges each year with more than 7,000 student athletes and another 10,000 students participating as band members or in other on-the-field activities. In absence of the bowl system, many student-athletes would lose this great opportunity to participate in these fun things.  I don’t think anyone would argue that the week leading up to their teams bowl game isn’t one of the most memorable experiences of their college lives.

My last point is every conference has an equal opportunity to earn an annual automatic qualification into the BCS.  At the beginning of every season, every team has the opportunity to earn a spot in a BCS game, including the National Championship. The odds may not be very high, but if the team plays quality competition and leave the cupcake teams off their schedule, then maybe they too will be rewarded at the end of the year. I am sure the non-BCS schools are only one or two quality games away from getting to that BCS Bowl game. Think about it, teams from non-BCS conferences without annual automatic qualification have played in the BCS in four of the last five years. Now lets compare that to the previous 54 years, when only six teams that are currently members of those conferences got a similar chance: BYU in the 1974 Fiesta Bowl, Wyoming in the 1976 Fiesta Bowl, Rice in the 1961 Sugar Bowl, Wyoming in the 1968 Sugar Bowl, Air Force in the 1971 Sugar Bowl and Rice in the 1947 Orange Bowl.

Everybody seems to think that the BCS is so flawed and it keeps the deserving teams out, well how many teams do you allow to be in the playoff?  Eight?  Sixteen?  Where is the cut-off? We would only encounter the same problems that college basketball faces each season with the ‘bubble teams’.  It’s easier to have a playoff system for the professional leagues because there aren’t hundreds of teams trying to make the post season. Not only that but then the regular season, which is so coveted, would essentially mean nothing. For example teams with one, two or even three losses would get the same opportunity at a national title as an undefeated team. Does that mean that my boys, Oklahoma who were (7-5) this past season deserved to be in the conversation for a National Championship? Nah, I don’t think so because anybody can get hot at the end of the season.

 The best teams should mean the best teams all season long. College football has the most competitive and meaningful regular season in all of sports. It’s one of the many things that make college football so great. Let’s think about the “student”-athlete in this situation too now. Lengthening the season for those playoff teams would take from the players’ ability to be an actual student.  The extra games would interfere with the valuable time needed to study for fall exams. However, I think I have talked enough about this whole BCS vs. playoff dilemma. I have to say I’m not opposed to the whole playoff system, I just know that it would be totally screwed up and they would allow way too many teams to be involved. To this point the BCS has only screwed up one season and that was with Auburn, which was obviously the one exception. Overall, I feel the BCS has done its job and will continue doing it’s job.

 I would also like to thank the Sports Mole for letting me be a guest blogger.  I hope I didn’t spark too many arguments.

  1. Tommy Bloggs says:

    College football has an exciting meaningful regular then they wait 40 plus days and decide their national champion with the same sense as a cheating French figure skating judge. Allowing only 4 conferences to participate in a title game and allowing one or two loss teams to play for more than undefeated teams is ridiculous. College football should do what hockey, basketball, baeball, and the pro football all do – tournament.

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