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The BCS Is Perfect

December 30, 2011 Leave a comment

By: Deacon Blues

The BCS: It’s is a joke. It’s a ridiculous system that everybody loves to hate. It’s perfect.

 

For 13 years, anybody who cares about college football – that is, everybody — has been subjected to a system that has done precious little to do what it set out to do. According to the BCS website, the BCS “is designed to ensure that the two top-rated teams in the country meet in the national championship game.” Does anybody really think that the two best teams meet year after year? What about USC in 2003? Auburn in 2004? Boise State? TCU?

Even according to the organizers of the BCS, it’s not a perfect system. To quote the BCS website again, “Thanks to the BCS, the top two teams have played each other 13 times in 13 years by BCS measurements and 10 times in the last 13 according to the AP poll — including the last seven years in a row.” According to their own measurements, the top two teams meet every year, but even they grant that there is dispute over this. It’s almost expected that there will be disagreement as to which the two top teams are.

 

Take this year for example. #1 Louisiana State (13-0) is the team most deserving to be there. However, their opponent is not the same shoo-in. #2 Alabama (12-1) already lost to LSU. They didn’t even win their division, let alone their conference.

 

What about #3 Oklahoma State (11-1)? Other than a double overtime road loss to Iowa State, they murdered their competition, including Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, and Texas A&M. #4 Stanford (11-1) lost one game, and that was to #5 Oregon (11-1). That one loss for Oregon was to the horribly underrated – and regrettably ineligible – USC (11-2).

 

All the while, #7 Boise State (11-1) lost a heart-breaker to the perennial competitive TCU (10-2), and that was that.

 

In all of this, #6 Arkansas (10-2) is nothing more than a footnote. The Razorbacks lost the only two legitimate challenges they received all year: LSU and Alabama.

 

Alabama received their berth to the championship game base on a margin of .0086 points – the closest margin in eight years. A couple votes the other way – or even a slightly altered computer formula – and Oklahoma State has the chance to contend for the glass football. A bounce here or there for Oregon, or Stanford, or Boise State, and the landscape is completely altered.

 

It’s true that every other major team sport has a playoff system, but there are 120 teams in the FBS. Proponents of a playoff, or a plus-one, or something similar think that college football would be benefitted by determining a clear-cut winner. That’s just not true.

 

Playoff systems are inherently flawed. The only thing they tell us is which teams would win on those days. Often, the best team doesn’t win the championship. The Giants beat the Patriots. Villanova upset Georgetown. The Mariners won 116 games and didn’t even make the World Series. Is there any reason to believe college football would be any different? Of course not.

 

Coaches, ADs, and the whole of the NCAA have been deafeningly silent on the issue of a playoff system. Why is that? If instituting a plus-one or an eight-team bracket would really benefit the sport, why isn’t everyone pushing for it? Because they know they would run the risk handing the Coaches’ Trophy to Kansas State. A Boise State-Cincinatti matchup would absolutely kill ratings. Outside of the college football wastelands, nobody wants that.

 

The beauty of the BCS is the ambiguity of it all. With a pool as large as the FBS, everybody benefits from a system that encourages debate. Oklahoma State fans don’t want their team to get destroyed by LSU in the championship game; they want the Cowboys to get “cheated” out of the chance to play, go out and beat Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl, and then have the opportunity to talk around the water cooler about how great their team was in 2011.

 

Nobody remembers the team that lost; everybody remembers the team that should have been there. Without the playoff system, the regular season is the playoff. Win and you’re still in, but lose, and you’re probably done. The BCS rarely gives out second chances. Absolutely every game matters, and no other sport can say that.

 

Deacon Blues grew up in Moscow, Idaho, and still resides there with his lovely wife and four savages. By day he is an economist and database expert, but he doubles as a T-ball coach, lacrosse official, suffering Mariners fan, and reader of children’s books. He also makes a mean morning meal and is ever on the lookout for the perfect breakfast burrito recipe. He can be followed on Twitter at @deaconblues42.