BCS: The Great Debate

The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Rankings are the biggest point of controversy every season in the NCAA as some love the Bowls and some despise them. The BCS is an evolution of the traditional college system. The system has not changed much since the first ever Rose Bowl in 1902 when the top ranked teams in the nation faced off on New Year’s Day. As time went on the conferences that make up the NCAA Division I-A/FBS signed contracts with bowls that connected these conferences to the bowls no matter what. With this system conferences would see their top teams go to certain bowls every year. In the early 1990s problems began to arise as the top ranked teams rarely met in bowls because they were required to play in certain bowls and had no real choice. In response to this five conferences and Notre Dame, an Independent, created the Bowl Coalition along with six bowls to create the first national championship game that would see the top two teams in the nation face off every year. These rankings were based on the writers in the US and were essentially opinions on who were the strongest teams in the NCAA. In 1998 this Bowl Coalition became the Bowl Championship Series and included the Tournament of Roses Association along with their original conferences and bowls. Since 1998 this has been the system and the only change has been that the rankings are no longer solely based on the Writers and the Coaches. Now the rankings are created by a computer, in a way. The BCS computer puts the AP Poll and the Coach’s poll into a Mathematical Algorithm that includes multiple factors including record and strength of schedule. With all of this going into the calculation the BCS computer picks the top 25 teams out of the Division I-FBS schools. With the rankings comes the configuration of the BCS Bowls. These are the Rose Bowl, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Allstate Sugar Bowl, Discover Orange Bowl, and the BCS National Championship. To find out who gets into what bowl there are a lot of complex rules but essentially they come down to simplicity. First the top two teams in the BCS rankings earn an automatic berth into the National Championship Game. After this the Rose Bowl is given to the team that wins the Pac-12 conference and the Big Ten conference, if they are not in the National Championship in which case it goes to the second place teams. After the Rose Bowl the rest of the bowls are figured out using the Automatic Qualifying conferences (AQ) that include the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC. Each Champion of these conferences earns a spot in the remaining bowls. The highest ranked champion of a non-AQ conference also earns a spot in the top bowls. After all of this the rest of the bowls are determined with the rankings as an at-large qualification. Yes it is all very complicated and controlled and this is why people have a big issue with the system. After 13 years of the BCS it seems as though every year a new team is ripped off by the rankings as they are undefeated but do not get into a big bowl. The problems are many but is there really a better system or is there just a need for a reorganization in the BCS?

The biggest point of contention with the BCS is the AQ conferences as only a handful of conferences, and Notre Dame if they are ranked high enough, are eligible for the big $17 million payout that the top bowls have. This has always seen at least one team in the top rankings rarely make it to the big bowls and never make it to the Championship game. There are reasons for this however and I will use Boise State as the most recent example of a BCS buster. Boise State is a member of the Mountain West Conference which is not an AQ conference. In the past years Boise State has been the best team out of a non-AQ conference losing one game in the last three years. This for many qualifies them for the National Championship. There is only one problem and that is they do not face the same level of teams as say a LSU or Ohio State as the regular opponents for the Broncos are TCU, Nevada, New Mexico, and Air Force to name a few. These teams are not the competition that proves that Boise should play in the national championship. The best teams that beat the best teams should make the national championship and unfortunately for Boise State their current conference is not good enough which is why they are looking to leave the Mountain West for a new conference. I personally love Bowl games I think they are exciting and give many different teams more exposure. The problem with a playoff is that there is no good system that will add the fairness that people want as the AQ conferences will most likely be the conferences that are eligible for playoffs. The biggest issue I have with the system is that the AQ conferences are the dominant people and if a team that beats goo teams deserves a spot they should get this even if they are outside of the AQ. I also do not like the fact that the payouts in many of the bowls actually mean nothing when the costs of going to the game and everything else involved are added up. The biggest issue is the bowl committees who take the money earned in advertising and TV deals and do not pay it back but instead keep it. The Bowls should stay but they should be an advantage for smaller schools and not a burden. I believe the Bowl system has great potential and the BCS rankings are the best system to figure out the bowls. The problem lies within the Bowl committees who need to give back to the teams that give them the money that makes a bowl committee one of the richest jobs in sports.

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