Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Annual BCS Chaos Guide

Before I get started, I want to quickly bring to light a comment made by Rece Davis the other night on ESPN seemingly in defense of the BCS. To paraphrase, Davis said: Penn St. is just another example of why everyone needs to wait until the end of the season before complaining about the BCS. Why do we have to wait? The BCS needs to work under all—or most—scenarios for it to be the best option. If Penn St. would’ve gone undefeated and Alabama and Texas Tech also went undefeated, then Penn St. would’ve been left out. It doesn’t matter what actually happens. If the BCS fails under most scenarios then it fails.

Ten years ago when the BCS was created in a lab full of guys that love money, it became second nature for fans of a college football playoff to root against the BCS’s master plan of having two undefeated teams at the end of each season. Since the BCS almost never works, there really isn’t that much rooting necessary. We don’t root for the sun to come up in the morning because we know it’s coming. Still, I don’t think I’m alone when I root for apocalyptic failure instead of just normal failure. The BCS rarely disappoints in that regard. This year has a chance to be the biggest disaster of them all.

Here is a checklist of events that need to happen to make 2008 the biggest BCS failure in its relatively short and sad history…

1). Alabama and Texas Tech need to lose once. Chaos would ensue even if just one loses but things start getting crazy-awesome if both drop a game. Most fans—not saying everyone—think that Florida will probably beat Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Texas Tech has been killing fools but I still think the Red Raiders will lose at Oklahoma this week. I think the chances of both Alabama and Texas Tech losing are pretty good.

2). Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, USC, and Penn St. need to win out. If Florida beats Alabama then the Gators will almost certainly win out. Even if Oklahoma beats Texas Tech this weekend, it still has to play at Oklahoma St. The Sooners will be favored but that game will be no gimme. Texas will likely hammer Kansas and Texas A&M. USC will almost certainly smoke Stanford, Notre Dame and UCLA. Penn St. should handle Indiana and Michigan St. at home. It is not unlikely that all five win-out.

3). Utah, Boise St., and Ball St. win-out. This is less likely than #1 and #2. Utah still has a tough game against BYU. Ball St. has to play Western Michigan and at Central Michigan. Winning both will be a chore. Boise St. will probably stay undefeated. Utah probably should beat BYU at home. Two of these three teams are likely to finish undefeated.

I realize that the odds of all of these things happening aren’t great. However, the good news is that they all don’t need to happen for there to be chaos. As long as half of #1 happens, chaos is guaranteed. If 1-3 happen, then get ready for the biggest BCS hate-fest you could ever hope for. The BCS would be left with the following scenario…

>>>There would be seven one-loss teams, two of which would be playing in the Championship game.

>>>There would be three undefeated teams, none of which would be playing in the Championship game.

>>>Texas would likely be in the Championship game which would be curious since Texas Tech would have one loss (like Texas) and a victory over Texas.

>>>That argument can be taken a step further since Oklahoma would have one loss with a victory over Texas Tech. Oklahoma and Texas Tech would be left out of the Championship game despite having the exact same resumes as Texas.

>>>Florida would likely be in the Championship game despite having the worst loss of the one-loss teams.

>>>Alabama will likely be left out even though it was the only unbeaten team in the SEC regular season. Even if Alabama loses to Florida, it will still have a better resume than Florida by virtue of its advantage in “quality of loss” (Florida lost at home to Mississippi; Alabama would be losing in the SEC Championship game to a top five team).

>>>USC will have wins over Ohio St. and Oregon by a combined score of 79-13. The Trojans will also have the distinction of being labeled “the team that nobody wants to play” which will undoubtedly infuriate Pete Carroll even more.

This sort of mess is what needs to happen for the heat to be turned up on BCS officials and college presidents. Fewer and fewer folks that matter support the BCS with each passing year. The more teams that get screwed, the more support it loses. Last year, it was Georgia’s President who reversed his stance and spoke out against a playoff. Only time will tell who it will be this year.

Unfortunately, random fan’s opinion makes no difference. Non random, powerful, fan, however, might get things moving in the right direction. Say, this guy…


Lord Byron said...

amen! but if you left it to the conference champions and perhaps two bids a large, then this year the big 12 would be upset. currently i think there is too much money/ratings being made in regular season games and bowl games for a change. i'm not sure how you'd create a playoff, the teams left out would be complaining, then.

Jake said...

Lord Byron,

Agreed. My preference would be for a 12-team playoff with homefield advantage until the Championship Game. There's no way that any team with a gripe could be left out. Take this year for instance. Few years in history rival this one in terms of teams with "beefs" for being included in the Championship Game.

With 12 teams, you could have major conference champions, all undefeated mid-majors, and a selection committee to fill out the rest of the spots ala college basketball.

However, as you obviously know from what you're getting at in your point, there will probably never be a 12-team playoff in 1-A college football. Too many people erroneously think that a 12-team playoff would require teams to play more games than an 8-team playoff. That would almost never be the case.

So, you're right. If there was a playoff, it would be eight teams. And, if it were eight teams, the Big XII would've gotten screwed this year because you couldn't fairly have a playoff without including Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma (assuming all finish with the same record).

Let's look at it another way. Most people think that any mid-major that goes undefeated should be included in a playoff. There might be three of those this year. That would leave only five spots in an eight-team playoff. That's not enough for conference champions and it's certainly not enough to include all of the one-loss teams.

This is how an eight team playoff might look this year if undefeated teams are guaranteed spots....

Boise St.
Ball St.

Nobody wants that playoff. That would leave out Texas Tech, Penn St., and the Big East and ACC conference champions.

A 12-team playoff would allow for conference champions, undefeated teams, and deserving at-large candidates. That last distinction would be important because Texas Tech (assuming TT loses to OU) wouldn't get in without it.

An eight-team playoff is better than a zero-team playoff. However, a 12-team playoff would virtually guarantee that all viable teams are included.

To your comment about too much money being tied into bowl games for there to be a change. That sounds a lot like the oil industry. They've fought a move to fuel-efficiency in the auto industry against the interest of consumers because of money. The bowls are doing the same. Nobody should feel bad for either. They've both made way too much money against the public's interest. Someone needs to tell the bowls to get hip to a playoff or get lost.

Take care!



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