Bowl Championship Series Essay, Research Paper
The biggest topic around college football today is the very controversial and complicated Bowl Championship Series or B.C.S. Equations used in the Bowl Championship Series will determine teams fates throughout the entire 1998-99 college football season. Some people feel a playoff should be in order or college football should go back to its old Bowl Alliance system. To better understand this situation you must dig deep into what the Bowl Championship Series is and how the teams that will participate in it be determined. You need to find out what people effected by this situation think about the new system and how it could be made a whole lot better.
The Bowl Championship Series is a series of systematic equations that will eventually add up to a number and determine what teams will play for the National Championship in the Fiesta Bowl (ABC Sports n.p.). The equations equal points which translates into a ranking. The ranking is determined by averaging teams rankings in the Associated Press Poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll and coming up with a number (Dufrense D1). That number is put aside for later addition. They next take the averages of the three computer polls: New York Times, Jeff Sagarin Poll, and the Seattle Times and average those rankings together (Dufrense D1). Now they take the strength of schedule into account. They take the teams rank from toughest schedule to weakest schedule (1-112) and divide it by 25 (Dufrense D1). They add all three numbers together to arrive at one number. Each loss counts as one point. Add the losses for the team to the previous number to finish this equation The lower the final number the higher you will be ranked in the Bowl Championship Series Poll (Dufrense D1).
The Bowl Championship Series is in its first season. It was developed and approved by the head of the Bowl Championship Series and commissioner of the South Eastern Conference Roy Kramer (Dufrense D1). It was created in conjunction with the Rose Bowl being added to the old Bowl Alliance (Dufrense D1).
Many possibilities exist for the bowl coalition. One could be that after the season is over it could be decided that the Bowl Championship Series has been ineffective and it would be abolished (Fly-List n.p.). They could go back to the Bowl Alliance system, but that will be highly unlikely (Fly-List n.p.). In the Bowl Alliance system all spots in the major bowls (Orange, Fiesta, and Sugar) were at-large bids while the granddaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl was left out (Hugenin n.p.). The Rose Bowl, which traditionally pitted the Pac 10 versus Big Ten Conference champions every year had not hosted a National Title game ever from the Bowl Alliance (Sports Illustrated C. f-ball section)! The Fiesta Bowl hosted the title game in 1995-96, the Sugar in 1996-97, the Orange in 1997-98, and the Fiesta is back on track to take the honors again this year as the host of the National Title game at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona (Sports Illustrated C. f-ball section). Under the Bowl Championship Series the Rose Bowl is scheduled to host the 2001-02 championship game (Meier n.p.).
The Bowl Championship Series is the present system being used in college football to determine a National Champion. Some people feel it is controversial, while others are completely content with this current system that is in its first season of operation (ESPN n.p.). I have included a sample of the first ever Bowl Championship Poll, which came out just last week on October 27th in the Los Angeles Times. Since I’m a sports guru I feel this stuff is cool and could sit and stare at a poll like this and never ever get bored with it. This poll is vital to my research. It will appear again in scenarios.
Rank Team AP Poll USA Today Poll avg. Jeff Sagarin New York Times Seattle Times Computer avg. Sched. Rank Quartile Rank Losses Total
1 UCLA 2 2 2.00 1 1 1 1.00 1 0.04 0 3.04
2 Ohio State 1 Ss1 1.00 3 2 3 2.67 16 0.54 0 4.31
3 Tennessee 3 4 3.50 4 3 2 2.92 2 0.08 0 6.50
4 Kansas State 4 3 3.50 2 4 4 3.33 49 1.96 0 8.79
5 Florida State 5 6 5.50 7 5 7 6.33 14 0.56 1 13.39
6 Nebraska 7 7 7.00 5 6 6 5.67 15 0.60 1 14.27
7 Florida 6 5 5.50 8 8 10 8.67 22 0.88 1 16.05
8 Texas A&M 8 9 8.50 10 7 5 7.00 8 0.32 1 16.82
9 Wisconsin 9 8 8.50 9 9 9 9.00 91 3.64 0 21.14
10 Penn State 10 10 10.00 11 10 12 11.00 13 0.52 1 22.52
11 Oregon 12 13 12.50 6 13 11 9.92 28 1.12 1 24.54
12 Arkansas 14 12 13.00 13 12 8 11.00 89 3.56 0 27.56
13 Georgia 11 11 11.00 15 19 13 15.67 54 2.16 1 29.83
14 Arizona 13 15 14.00 12 17 15 14.67 55 2.20 1 31.87
15 Virginia 15 14 14.50 20 21 16 19.00 69 2.76 1 37.26
16 Notre Dame 16 16 16.00 24 15 17 18.67 57 2.28 1 37.95
17 Georgia Tech 23 24 23.50 22 13 18 17.67 11 0.44 2 43.61
18 Missouri 18 21 19.50 16 23 27 22.00 23 0.92 2 44.42
19 Tulane 19 18 18.50 30 33 14 25.67 86 3.44 0 47.61
20 Syracuse 17 19 18.00 24 27 33 28.00 34 1.36 2 49.36
Polls: Rankings of each team are added, then divided by two (Dufrense D1).
Computer Rankings: Rankings of each team are added, then divided by three. To prevent unusual differences in individual formulas, a maximum adjusted deviation of no greater than 50% of the average of the two lowest computer rankings is utilized (DufrenseD1).
Quartile Rank: Cumulative won-loss records of team’s opponents (worth 66.67%) and Cumulative won-loss records of a team’s opponents (33.33%) are ranked then divided by 25 (Dufrense D1).
Losses: For each loss add 1 point to the total (Dufrense D1).
Total: Two teams with the lowest total play in the Bowl Championship Series Title Game. (Dufrense D1)
Maybe the most impressive and popular of the options to determine a National Champion of college football would be to install a playoff system (Meier n.p.). The ideal playoff would included at least the top 32 teams in the Associated Press poll or even possibly add a 64 team playoff which would be a climax for all football fans. The playoff system would be fantastic. The first round games could still be played in bowls. The low round games could be played in the lower bowls (Las Vegas, Motor City, Aloha, Heritage, Insight.com etc…) and continue through the playoff bracket and play the more implicating games (Semifinals and Finals) in the Big Four (Orange, Sugar, Rose, and Fiesta). This would be great it would keep the NCAA’s revenue up by keeping all the bowls and add some other bowls to fulfill the playoff’s needs (Meier n.p.). This is the near perfect way of crowning a National Champion. You have to beat the best to become the best (Meier n.p.). The intensity would be through the roof and teams play totally different in the postseason compared to the regular season because players know every game could be their last one.
I really do not know of any other possibilities of determining a national champion that would be very logical. I am sure that a less complicated formula for the Bowl Championship Series could be drawn up if it was needed. I do enjoy the fact that the new formula takes into account the strength of schedule factor and other polls just not the Associated Press and USA Today polls.
When you ask people involved in different ways either directly or indirectly about the effectiveness of the Bowl Championship Series you will obviously receive different responses. For instance, when I contacted sportswriter Mike Hugenin from the Sporting News he said, “I can criticize the new system all I want, but that it why I’m getting paid to write about it not develop a new plan of attack” (Hugenin n.p.). Players on the college football teams are pretty much taking whatever the NCAA throws at them. Some players were enraged because strength of schedule was being looked at now and one Kansas State player’s argument was “We just play football. We have no control over what kind of schedule we have. We just go out and get the job done” (USA Today n.p.). That is a very strong argument because you can not really penalize the players because some teams won’t play them. For example, the Marshall Thundering Herd a member of the weak MAC conference is currently undefeated at 8-0, but is not even close to being ranked in the Top 25. This is because Marshall has good program and if a power house program (West Virginia, Michigan, Ohio State, Virginia, Florida etc…) schedules Marshall they have nothing to gain and everything to lose. This penalizes the Thundering Herd and causes them to gain little respect from pollsters. Marshall could very well end up 11-0 and only get the automatic berth that the MAC conference champion gets to the Motor City Bowl-the smallest bowl in operation(ESPN n.p.).
Bobby Bowden the head coach of the Florida State Seminoles commented on the Bowl Championship Series and his team’s situation this year, “We are done! This new system is going to keep us out of the Championship game no matter what. We had one off night and now we don’t have a chance” (USA Today n.p.) On the other hand, Bob Toledo, head coach of the UCLA Bruins, the team that is currently leading the Bowl Championship Series standings with 3.04 points said, “This is superb the Rose Bowl is part of the Bowl Championship Series. We control our own destiny. We finally have a shot at the National Title” (USA Today n.p.) I emailed former college and NFL coach Bill Walsh and he stated, “I think it was for the best. The Pac 10 and Big Ten have been swindled out of national title games as has the Rose Bowl. Overall it is a good advancement for college football” (Walsh, n.p.).
Roy Kramer, the commissioner of the South Eastern Conference and head of the Bowl Championship Series, said, “The Bowl Championship Series is the best thing to happen to college football since the facemask” (Dufrense D1). When asked if the Bowl Championship Series has any effect on how he votes, Jeremy Schaap, an Associated Press pollster, politely said, “No” (USA Today n.p.). I think that all of these groups of people are effected nearly equally by the Bowl Championship Series, but the fans are the ones that have been left out. The fans make the game and some care and some do not. The alumni and hardcore, go to every game fans do care (ABC Sports n.p). They are the ones investing there time and money into their team and they want to make everything that is positive happen to their team (ABC Sports n.p). The other types of fans are the occasional armchair quarterback and the student that supports his team. The armchair quarterback cares quite a bit about what happens to the team, but not even close to as much as an alumnus(Meier n.p.). The student mostly just wants to go and party and root the team on. The majority of the time they have no clue what is going on when it comes to bowls (Meier n.p.).
The Bowl Championship Series could be better by making the formula used simpler so it is easily understood (ESPN n.p.). From what I hear, the Bowl Championship is too complicated. On an ESPN show it was said “The Bowl Championship Series is so complicated that only MIT could decipher it” (ESPN n.p.) I think a formula used should only include the won-loss record of a team and then if there is a tie then take into account the strength of schedule. As I had stated before, the Rose Bowl, Pac 10, and the Big Ten were the only teams effected by the old Bowl Alliance system. I think the Bowl Championship Series is more effective and better planned than the Bowl Alliance was.
This year the Bowl Championship Series may not hurt anybody, but it possibly can. “To have the top four teams finish undefeated it would take a combined 20 straight wins by those teams with the odds being 1 in a 100” (ESPN n.p.). But, if the four teams were to win out UCLA would be sitting fat and happy on top on the Bowl Championship Series Poll and go to the Fiesta Bowl (Dufrense D1). That is not solidified, yet UCLA has only blown out one opponent this year in lowly Washington State (Dufrense D1). This has caused them to lose some international prestige (Dufrense D1). UCLA has barely beat Texas, Houston, had to rally to beat Arizona and Oregon in overtime, pounded Washington State, won a 28-16 thriller over California, and had to rally with 2:34 to go to knock off winless Stanford 28-24 (Dufrense D1). Ohio State, the number two team in the Bowl Championship Series poll may not play for the National Title because of the weakness of the Big Ten this year which may propel number three Tennessee by them (Dufrense D1). The Volunteers have the second toughest schedule and play in a league title game which could make them 12-0 with another win over a ranked opponent and be placed in the championship game (Dufrense D1). Ohio State could finish number one in the Associated Press and USA Today polls and still not be allowed to play for the National Title because they are not number one or two in the Bowl Championship Series Poll (Dufrense D1). Ohio State only plays one more ranked opponent this year in long time unimpressive nemesis number twenty-two Michigan (ABC Sports n.p.). Kansas State is in the same boat. They scheduled three cupcakes to start the year and then they expect to play for the National Title (Dufrense D1). Their first test will be at Nebraska towards the end of November (Dufrense D1). I don’t just feel, I know Kansas State is the best pure football team out there this year, but again they may be snubbed.
Wisconsin is undefeated at this time and probably will finish 11-0 and because the Rose Bowl is part of the Bowl Championship Series they do not have to take the Badgers. Wisconsin would finish 11-0 because Ohio State is not on their schedule this year (Dufrense D1). This could leave the Badgers in some second rate bowl wandering what it could have been. I have already told you about Marshall and there is another team that I feel is really good and could knock off most teams. That team is Tulane, who is ranked around number eighteen, after starting the season undefeated at 7-0 (Dufrense D1). That includes yesterday’s 72-0 clobbering of Louisiana State. They are ranked lower because they play in Conference USA (Hugenin n.p.). If I had a choice I would like to see Kansas State and Tulane in the National Championship game, but I do not have any say in it so I’ll have to hope.
If I was the commissioner of the Bowl Championship Series I would put a fan enthralling 64 team playoff system into effect immediately. I have been pleading for a playoff system ever since I knew how the Bowl Alliance worked because it always seemed to be that my favorite team always got swindled out of a shot at the championship. A playoff really makes you beat the best to become the best! I also feel its better to have to win the National Championship by winning more than one postseason game compared to the way they have the one game postseason right now. I agree with the points made about how a team plays totally different in the postseason compared to the regular season. I’m interested to passionately watch how this Bowl Championship Series unfolds and if everything runs smoothly. I’m mildly interested in how long it is going to take the boneheads that run college to figure out that these bowl systems don’t work and the only answer would be to install a playoff.