BCS: Change Your System NOW!
Did you watch the BCS “Championship” game between LSU and Alabama? Or, did you fall asleep in the middle of it from sheer boredom, like I did? From anybody’s perspective (except, maybe, those myopic folks in the SEC), the game was a yawner. The “experts” (mostly those who are somehow beholden to the BCS…or naturally, ESPN!) called it a “defensive battle” but I stand by my assertion: it was a major bore.
Which makes me beg, plead, admonish the BCS to please change the system you use for determining the number 1 and 2 teams in college football. The current system is broken. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t field the best teams for the BCS Championship game (it would’ve placed Oklahoma State against LSU if that were the case). And, as if any further proof was needed, just look at the game this broken system fielded on Monday night. Any number of teams would’ve been better in the championship game but instead, we got a rerun of the mid-season snorefest between LSU and Alabama. That one was even less exciting than this one, with a final score of 9-6. Yep, 9-6. No touchdowns; only field goals.
How does the BCS fix this mess? It's clear that college football doesn't want to go to an extended playoff system, as college basketball uses. The championship game seems to be something we'll have to live with for now. But, if the BCS is intent on using the championship game, they ought to make sure that that final game is a good one, featuring the two honest-to-goodness best teams in America.
But, that seemingly simple task seems to be a difficult one for the BCS to accomplish. Here’s what I’d do.
First, the BCS has to get out of bed with the SEC. As if you couldn’t tell, the BCS is in love with the SEC (no surprise, since the SEC commissioner Roy Kramer is considered the "father" of the BCS coalition). But, this love affair is tainting the glow of the BCS championship game and something must be done to correct it. Ending this ridiculous relationship (especially as it excludes all other conferences) is a good place to start.
Second, I’d make it a rule that two teams from the SEC can never again compete against each other in the championship game. This is simple, basic economics: when you have two teams from the same conference, no one else in the entire country is engaged or even remotely interested in the game. And, I've got news for the SEC: no one cares about your league except for you! Your teams are not the only ones that play college football. So, grow up and give others a turn at the table.
Then, I’d throw out all those computer rankings that come from the Deep South. It's only too obvious that they set up their algorithms to favor the SEC teams. Or maybe there are just so many SEC teams, they clog up the works. Whatever the answer, the rest of the country doesn’t hold the SEC on a pedestal like the BCS or those damned computers do. So, it’s time for the SEC to get off its high horse and the best way to do this is by reformulating those computer rankings to give teams outside of the SEC a fighting chance. (Notice how the AP rankings stopped being a part of the BCS? They could see the ineffectiveness of those damned computers and got out before their reputation was damaged.)
It’s time the BCS acknowledge teams west of the Mississippi, including the Pac-12 and Big 10 Conferences. (Full disclosure: I am a lifelong Trojan). But, lest you think I'm throwing airballs, look at the excitement generated by Pac-12 football. Let’s take the Pac-12’s two most anticipated games of this past season: USC vs Oregon and Stanford vs USC. The final score for Stanford-USC was 56-48 and it went into three overtimes before Stanford pulled out the win. There were 948 total yards (514 for Stanford; 432 for USC), 54 first downs (29 for Stanford; 25 for USC), only 10 punts (five from each team) and a mere two field goals from each team. The USC-Oregon game had a final score of 38-35 with USC on the winning side this time. There were 936 total yards (USC with 462 and Oregon with 474), 49 first downs (23 for USC; 26 for Oregon); nine punts (4 for USC; 5 for Oregon) and two field goals attempted (one made by USC; one missed by Oregon).
Compare these stats to the “championship” game when the total yardage for the game was 476 (384 for Alabama; 92 for LSU). In this game, Alabama was 3 for 14 in third down conversions while LSU was 2 for 12. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when LSU crossed the 50 yard line and it wasn’t until that same quarter that LSU – remember, this was the NUMBER ONE team in the nation, according to the BCS rankings – managed a third down conversion. You may fight to the death and applaud a defensive battle over an offensive one but I say it’s so much more fun and exciting to see the ball cross the 50 yard line some time in the, say, first quarter.
College football CAN be exciting...as long as you move away from the SEC. And, as long as the BCS is in bed with the SEC, this system is not going to change. But, the numbers don’t lie. Not only was the game a loser but so were the television ratings: it was the third lowest-rated game in the history of the BCS Championship game.
See? Something’s gotta give.
Rumor has it that, after the game, the BCS began discussions to introduce a college football playoff system. In their proposed playoff, the top four teams would play each other – a semifinal, if you will. Then, the winners of those two teams would play each other in the championship game. That could work…but only if the overall BCS ranking system is changed.
What do you think of the BCS rankings? The BCS system in general? What would you do to change it?