The BCS Effect on College Football: Keeping the Little Man Down
By Andrew Kaake '14
If you’ve ever talked to me about politics, or if you’ve read as much as the title of any of my articles in The Student, you’ve probably figured out that President Obama and I don’t agree on much. In fact, I can only think of one view that the two of us hold in common: we both believe that NCAA Division I football should adopt a playoff system. Therefore, to exemplify the Halloween holiday spirit, I will write about something of real importance to America for a change — college football.

I may be relatively new to the realm of college football — after all, I’ve only been alive for 18 years — but even I can see that there is a disease that is marring the collegiate version of my favorite sport. The name of this cursed infection is very simple: BCS. The Bowl Championship Series is the body that regulates what teams get to play in the five best bowl games each postseason and, most notably, gets to determine the national champion of Division I football. Externally, they seem to be of good intention, claiming that they “determine the national champion for college football while maintaining and enhancing the bowl system,” and that the BCS “has provided more access to the major bowls for all 11 conferences.” However, the actions of this organization have shown that they’re essentially paying lip service to fans of college football while orchestrating their will upon the NCAA landscape.

In order to better understand the effect that the BCS has had upon athletics, we must consider their methods. Starting in week eight of the collegiate season, the BCS releases weekly standings that show what it considers to be the top 25 teams in college football. This ranking is, in theory, a composite of the USA Today Top 25, the Harris Poll and six computer ranking lists. Then, at the end of the season, the BCS uses their rankings to determine which teams participate in the Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl and National Championship Game. However, out of these 10 slots, a minimum of six must be awarded to members of the automatic bid conferences — the Big 12, SEC, Pac-10, ACC, Big 10 and Big East. Furthermore, five of these conferences are tied to a specific bowl, so if the champion of a bowl host conference is number one or two in the final BCS standings, that conference supplies a second team to replace them.

What’s the problem with that, you might ask? Don’t ask me; ask Boise State. Yes, Boise State, the best football team in the last five years of college football, bar none. They burst onto the scene in 2006, beating powerhouse Oklahoma in the overtime of the Fiesta Bowl by running a Statue of Liberty trick play. They’ve lost four games, counting postseason play, since that ’06 Fiesta Bowl, and have gone undefeated in the regular season three times in that stretch. They’ve never lost a BCS-endorsed bowl. In fact, the only thing going against Boise State is the one thing that counts in the BCS: they are not a member of one of the six preferred conferences. They’re not a giant, over-funded school. They’re not one of the six schools that wins every single national championship, so they’re overlooked in favor of overrated “powerhouses.”

Case in point: last week, before the release of the first BCS rankings of the year, Oregon and Boise State were ranked number one and two, respectively, in both major polls. In order to keep Boise State from being ranked in a spot where they could earn a berth to the National Championship Bowl, the BCS used the always-vague computer rankings to elevate number three Oklahoma to the first place spot, forcing Boise State down to number three. This week, after Oklahoma lost, number three Auburn was moved up to the top slot in similar fashion. Aside from this obvious bit of favoritism, the 2008 Utah Utes were passed over for a national championship bid in spite of the fact that it was the only undefeated team in Division I. Instead, one-loss Florida played one-loss Oklahoma in the title game, and Alabama, who lost their only game against Florida in the SEC championship, was sent to the Sugar Bowl against Utah. Utah demolished then-number-four Alabama by a two-touchdown margin.

The BCS can say what it wants to, but it basically exists to keep the small-conference schools out of the top games. Don’t get me wrong, I like some big conferences; I’m a Big 12 fan, and support the Iowa State Cyclones (who beat 19th ranked Texas on Saturday … just saying). However, I can’t stand by while the BCS ruins college football by keeping the best teams out of the championship games. I don’t have all the answers, and I’m still working on a viable solution that integrates bowl games with an unbiased playoff system. Whatever the solution, the problem is obvious, and the NCAA has to make a change immediately, or else lose the college pasttime that the nation holds dear to the controlling clutches of the BCS.

Issue 07, Submitted 2010-10-27 04:25:22