Bowl Championship Series

The BCS isn't Working

In 2005, Joe Barton, the chairman of congressional committee described the Bowl Championship Series as "deeply flawed." Such flaws in the system have been pointed out and indentified by many people and it is a widespread belief that the current Bowl Championship Series system is in need of a tune up. In order to fix the many problems with the Bowl Championship Series, a college football playoff system is needed in the form of an eight team playoff system.

The Bowl Championship Series system that is used to determine the number one team in division 1-A college football is deeply flawed. The Bowl Championship Series is a computer program that aims to rank the top college football teams. This program aims to statistically and mathematically rank the tops teams who will compete in the Bowl Championship Series system. One of the major problems with this system is the way in which its rankings are determined. The Bowl Championship Series rankings are composed of three components: USA Today Coaches poll, Harris Interactive college football poll, and an average of six computer rankings. Each component counts for one third of the final Bowl Championship Series score in the Bowl Championship Series standings. The problem with the way in which this ranking is determined is the fact that the USA Today Coaches poll is included in the ranking. This is a problem because coaches often have very biased opinions. Coaches may have an aversion to other coach's teams, coaches may hold grudges against other teams, and coaches may choose to help a friend out by voting for their team. Money is another major flaw in the Bowl Championship Series system. The Bowl Championship Series system currently distributes ninety percent of their lucrative earnings to the six power conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big 10, Big East, SEC, and Pac 10) while giving only ten percent to the other fifty-one schools in Division 1. The six major conferences are also the only conferences whose winner is given an automatic bid to a Bowl Championship Series game. There is a great difference in how different major and minor conferences are paid for BCS berths. When a major conference, such as the Big 12, puts a team into one of the Bowl Championship Series games, the conference receives eighteen million dollars to distribute among their conference, with an additional four million for every team there after. When a minor conference, such as the Western Athletic Conference, puts a team into a Bowl Championship Series game, the conference only receives nine million dollars to distribute among their conference. However, the poor distribution of money is only the beginning of the Bowl Championship Series problems. Since schools from minor conferences have a significantly smaller shot at receiving a bid to the national championship game recruiting is much more difficult. Recruits feel the need to go to a school where they have a great chance to win a national championship; these schools are members of the six major conferences. A recruit may see a team from the minor conference have an undefeated season such as Boise State in 2010, but since they given no shot at the national title game, the recruit may choose to pursue another school that has a chance at playing in the national title game.

To fix the current system an effective alternative is needed. Such an effective alternative to the current system has been proposed by the Mountain West Conference who has many times been snubbed out the Bowl Championship Series games especially the national championship. The Mountain West Conferences proposal is separated into four parts. Part one of the proposal includes a new method to determine what schools receive automatic bids to the major bowl games. The proposal states that if all of a conference's teams have combined for a winning percentage of at least .400 against the current automatic qualifying conferences over the span on two years, then that conference gains eligibility for an automatic bid into a Bowl Championship Series game. Part two of the proposal involves completely removing the Bowl Championship Series standings and replacing them with a twelve member committee. This committee would select which teams receive at-large bids, and they would also select and seed eight teams for the playoff games. This committee would be able to take into consideration how the teams are currently playing, injuries, and how well the teams have played in their wins and losses, all things that the current system is incapable of doing. Part three of the proposal focuses on the scheduling of the playoff games. The proposal states that the current Bowl Championship Series games would be the host of the four first-round playoff games. The semifinals would be played a week later, with the current Bowl Championship Series bowls also having rights host those games. The national championship game would be played a week after the semifinals, and the current Bowl Championship Series bowls would decide who would host the game. The fourth and final part of the proposal states that all of the 11 major conferences and Notre Dame would have equal parts on the Bowl Championship Series presidential oversight committee whose members represent all 120 Division 1-A programs. Part four also proposes that revenues from postseason games would be distributed equally throughout every league. The eight team playoff proposal proposed by the Mountain West Conference advocates fairness in both competition and money distribution by allowing teams to decide their fates on the field rather than in computers.

The supporters of the current system rest their arguments on a few points that can be disproved by proponents of a new system. One of the points that supporters of the current system rest their arguments on is the increased emphasis the lack of a playoff system puts on the regular season. However, an eight team playoff system would not decrease the emphasis of the regular season since teams aiming to be included in the eight team playoff system would have to perform at a high level in the regular season in order for their team to be included in the eight team playoff. Other supporters of the current system argue that the playoff system would take too long to finish and would rob student athletes of their study time. These arguments go together but make very little practical sense. College football players already devote a large amount of time to playing their chosen sport, and extending the season another three weeks would make no difference in their academic performance. College basketball players for example play a longer season than college football and no comments are made by anyone arguing that the academic performance of college basketball players is suffering as a result. Supporters of the current system also argue that the playoff system would eliminate much of the excitement of the current bowl games. However, in truth a playoff system would create even more excitement because a win would mean that a team would still have a chance to win the national title.

Any way you look at it, the current Bowl Championship Series system is flawed and needs to be replaced. Supporters of the current system try as hard as they can to justify the present system but their arguments fall flat. Voting and the use of computers should not be used in the crowning of a National Champion. And the National Champion in college football should be determined by the performance of the team and players themselves. Should a bunch of computers and a couple of polls really decide who is given the right to play for a championship? The answer is absolutely not, and until college football changes its current system and decides to use an eight team playoff system, dedicated fans of the game will be left wondering who truly the best team in college football is.

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