By Justin Caudell
Many college football teams will continue to be robbed a championship bid for the next six years.
Over the summer, Bowl Championship Series officials rejected a plan to turn the much criticized system of computerized rankings for deciding a national champion into a four team playoff starting in the 2010 season. The BCS format will remain the same until at least the 2014 season.
“After a very thorough, very good discussion among the group, we have decided that because we feel at this time the BCS is in an unprecedented state of health, we feel it’s never been healthier during its first decade, we have made a decision to move forward in the next cycle with the current format,” Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford said after a series of meetings.
During the annual college conferences get-together, a plan for a plus-one format, matching the No. 1 team in the nation against No. 4 and No. 2 vs. No. 3 in marquee bowl games, and the winners of the two games meeting in the BCS title game, was presented. But in the end, only the Southeast Conference and ACC wanted to continue the discussion of the plus-one.
There was no vote taken, but the leaders of the Big East, Big 12, Pac-10 and Big Ten conferences made it clear they did not want to move the BCS toward a playoff in any way. Any change would have needed approval by university presidents. In the current BCS format, the top two teams in the BCS standings, which use polls and computer ratings to grade teams based on scheduled competition, among other factors, are matched in the BCS national title game. The idea behind the plus-one was to alleviate some of the controversy by sending four teams into the postseason with a chance to win the national championship.
Regardless of whether the plus-one proposal was voted in, however, the BCS would have still used polls and computers to decide who had a chance at a championship bid. The new system would have simply given grievance to the teams ranked third and fourth. It would not have justified the wrong done to numerous other college football teams who don’t make it to the end, who maybe should have. Year after year, ranked teams are defeated by unranked teams every week, and almost every season, there’s been some dispute leading into the championship game about whether the BCS selected the two most deserving teams.
In past years, undefeated Auburn was left out of the national title game after the 2004 season in favor of Southern California and Oklahoma; Nebraska reached the championship game after the 2002 season, despite getting blown out in its final regular-season game. Last year, Georgia fans were the loudest to complain when the Bulldogs were left out of the BCS title game in favor of LSU, who leaped ahead of Georgia in polls, to face Ohio State.
College football officials need to learn by the big boys in football’s playoff example, the National Football League (NFL). The top two teams from each conference at the end of the regular season get bids to the postseason, and wildcards are also handed out. In a multi-game playoff, the final two teams from a pre-determined sectional divide then square off for a championship title.
This proposal eliminates any biases in polls and unfairness at the hands of uncontrollable computers.
What makes sense in situations like these is rarely taken in to consideration though.