Rework of BCS may be good for NCAA

By Kyle Betts

College football is my favorite brand of football. The thundering marching bands, the historic rivalries and the roaring student sections create an atmosphere that the NFL can’t match in my book. The best part, though, is that anyone can win anywhere on any day, which makes every game exciting – thank you Appalachian State.

I love everything college football has to offer, except the one thing that has left a scar on the game for far too long: the Bowl Championship Series.

The BCS is basically a system used by the NCAA that combines the votes of coaches and media members plus the calculations of a computer system to determine the ranking of the teams, and, more importantly, the two teams that will play each other for a national championship.

The reason the BCS was created in 1998 was to eliminate the shared national championship, which was a result of the separate coaches and media polls not being able to pick a single winner.

The BCS formula takes several factors into account, like strength of victories, severity of losses and strength of schedule, just to name a few.

Of course, though, the system is flawed and has produced several controversies that are centered around teams with worse records or equal records getting into the championship game over more or equally deserving teams. Basically, the computer settles the matter instead of letting the teams decide it on the field, which is against everything sports stand for.

With almost every season since its introduction ending in some kind of BCS controversy, it’s finally time for college football to leave the computer behind and enact a playoff system that benefits everyone.

Now, I’m not saying get rid of all the smaller bowls like the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl or the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl (you know I can’t live without my Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl). Besides being entertaining, they are essentially consolation bowls now and they would be in the new system, too. The NCAA can keep these bowls and teams can still go to them because it’s best for everyone. Smaller schools get rewarded for a good season with national television exposure, advertisers get to put their commercials on TV and sponsor the bowls themselves, networks get advertising money, and the cities hosting the bowls get tourism money. Everyone’s happy, everyone wins.

The major reform needs to come for determining the champion by creating an eight-team playoff system.

The participants in this system would be made up of the winners of the six major conferences (Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC, Pac-10 and Big East) as well as two at-large bids that would be determined by human voters.

The seeds for the tournament could be based on a formula similar to the BCS computer or they could also be determined by a human voter poll.

The bowls involved would be the Cotton, Gator, Sugar and Fiesta bowls for the first round, which would mean having to promote the Cotton and Gator bowls to BCS status. The next week, the semifinals would be the Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl.

Then two weeks later, the National Championship game would be played.

Again, everyone wins with this system. The BCS games would get maximum television exposure by increasing the number of total games from five to seven.

This allows several new sponsorship and advertising possibilities for the NCAA and major TV networks. The fans would win because with the addition of a playoff system, NCAA would essentially create a “March Madness” effect for football, and we know what kind of effect the basketball tournament has on us. Of course, the playoff would also benefit the players and coaches as the new system would allow the teams to decide who the true national champion is on the field with no controversy attached.

All of this would mean that the NCAA would have to alter its bowl schedule though, but since most teams are done with their regular season before Thanksgiving and then don’t play their bowl games for a month or more later, I don’t think the NCAA would have a problem scheduling the playoff rounds in December when nothing is happening.

Maybe the playoff system in college football is nothing more than just a pipe dream. Maybe I’m na’ve for thinking the NCAA would stray away from the current BCS format. Even if they do decide to keep things the way they are with all the controversy that comes with it, I’ll still love college football because I know that anything can happen on any day.

Kyle Betts is a senior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected]