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Opinion

College football system ‘BCS’ lacks tact, accuracy

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December 11, 2008

Ah, December, the month where snow begins to fall, students start thinking about winter break and the time of year when college football wraps up its regular season.

It is also the time sportswriters around the country start talking about the need for a college football playoff. Why? Because the Bowl Championship Series sucks! Plain and simple.

For those of you who don’t know, the Bowl Championship Series, a.k.a. the BCS, is a system devised to determine the champion of college football. It is basically a standings board determined by polls and computer formulas that Einstein couldn’t understand.

They do their formulas and look at polls and then tell us who is going to play for the national championship.

There is only one problem with doing this; the BCS somehow manages to get something wrong every year.

The two best teams may not be the ones playing in the championship (see 2003 for more details). It’s all based on what they did the past few weeks of the regular season.

Take a look at this year—Texas beat Oklahoma in regular season play, and yet Oklahoma played for the Big 12 title, and now will play in the championship game.

I can’t argue against Oklahoma, but it’s obvious that Texas got screwed in the whole thing. Actually, they were off by .0181 BCS Points, but don’t ask what BCS points are, because I don’t know.

Oh, and the BCS will not allow any mid-major team to play for a national championship because the strength of the schedule is so poor. Div. I college football is the only sport that doesnít end its year with a tournament of some kind.

As a solutions kind of guy, I now propose a 16-team playoff. This playoff would be spread out over five weeks, allowing it to end after New Year’s, and allowing full media coverage for the championship.

For you college football purists, you can keep your other bowl games like the Eagle Bank Bowl and the Meineke Car Care Bowl—you know, bowls that no one cares about. However, determining a champion should be done on the field, not by a computer.

Take the top 16 teams from the final BCS standings and have them play in a tournament. Doing this would allow top teams to play other top teams from different conferences. This would also allow for smaller schools, like Boise State, Utah, Ball State and any other mid major who goes undefeated to have a shot.

I think college football needs to look at how college basketball does it. Football should start using Ratings Percentage Index to determine the standings, which is largely based on strength of schedule, and also look at overall record and conference records.

They should also use the revenue sharing they use in basketball. One-sixth of the money goes to schools based on sports, one-third of the money goes to schools based on scholarships and one-half of the money goes to the conferences based on how they did.

Because of the way this revenue sharing is set up, it works out better if there are more teams. The BCS kind of forces a national champion only based on numbers and not on how they play in games.

There is a clear bias that supports the six major conferences, plus Notre Dame. Using a 16-team playoff that includes teams from smaller conferences would go a long way in eliminating this bias.

The only thing left is for the BCS officials to get a brain in their heads, and do the best thing for college football. Change it.

Joseph Engelhardt is a student at UW-River Falls.