A Real BCS Fix, I know, I know …

On New Year’s Day (ok, not really) – the traditonal big day for College Football, we are once again fully introduced to the sheer inadequacy of the BCS.  It is deeply comical for the announcers to talk about “BCS records” as if the other non-national title BCS bowls are anything special – aside from the Rose Bowl which has its own history to work with.  Obviously, as my friend Adam points out, the playoff is the best solution – but there are also a ton of entrenched interests holding that up.  A seeded plus-one seems to be gaining momentum, and actually if it got implemented, it would be a startling display of common sense for college football.  Now, while this is not a 16 team playoff with every conference represented, we can create a system which identifies the most worthy champion more frequently than any other system college football has had.

  1. Revamp the BCS formula back towards the 1998 formula.  No, I am not asking for the 1998 formula again.  However, a BCS formula that reduces the impact of the polls (which was the intent of the BCS to begin with) – brings back margin of victory (which has real value in identifying quality) and objectively sorts teams over multiple criteria.  If college hockey can do this (or modesty be damned, if I can do it) then doing something on this front is not that difficult.  This will not eliminate the arguments over who is #1 or #2, but it is at least not being determined by coaches who don’t watch other teams, and is consistent in measurement.
  2. Create the 20 team list from which the BCS can choose teams.  Note there is no automatic qualification here.  This eliminates carrying a sister of the poor – or the Big East.  Twenty teams for 10 spots – the Bowls get their economic flexibility and the smaller programs have a reasonable shot still to get picked.
  3. The top 4 teams are the national semifinalists.  In this season, you’d have (using my rankings) LSU, Oklahoma State, Alabama and Stanford.  You follow the rankings exactly – EXCEPT if one of the top 2 teams is not a conference champion.  Conferences should not be the end all, but a conference championship is the goal of every team – and so that should be rewarded.  Thus, the top 2 seeded semifinalists MUST be conference champions.  Why stop at 4 teams when there are more? Personally, we know this is the most likely arrangement to be implemented quickly, and anyway, there are so rarely more than four truly WORTHY teams (there aren’t even 4 really this year) that we are not missing much.
  4. Now we get to the BCS bowls.  I add two pretty prestigious bowls to the existing mix.  So, it’s the Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange, Cotton and Peach bowls.  The national semifinalists are placed first.  The Top 2 seeds get bowl preference – not quite home field advantage, but it counts.  I added Atlanta and Dallas for some additional choices here.  Also the Cotton Bowl will be a part of any new BCS in real life, how do you leave out Cowboys Stadium?  So, LSU goes to the Sugar Bowl, and Oklahoma State goes to the Cotton Bowl.  The national semifinals are LSU-Stanford and Oklahoma State-Alabama.  The Rose Bowl gets its matchup and the other bowls select as they must.  Note this means if a Pac 12 or Big Ten team is among the Top 2, the Rose Bowl can move to the national semifinal status, which keeps both tradition and lets the BCS work.
  5. The BCS title game we are waiting a week for would instead host the winner of the national semifinals.

It is not a perfect arrangement, but if we back-tested this with the 2010 pre-BCS rankings from previous years?

2010

  • Sugar Bowl: Auburn vs Stanford
  • Rose Bowl: Oregon vs TCU

2009

  • Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs Cincinnati
  • Cotton Bowl: Texas vs TCU

2008

  • Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma vs Alabama
  • Orange Bowl: Florida vs Texas

2007

  • Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs Oklahoma
  • Sugar Bowl: LSU vs Virginia Tech

2006

  • Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs LSU
  • Orange Bowl: Florida vs Michigan

2005

  • Rose Bowl: USC vs Ohio State
  • Cotton Bowl: Texas vs Penn State

2004

  • Rose Bowl: USC vs Texas
  • Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma vs Auburn

2003

  • Sugar Bowl: LSU vs Michigan
  • Rose Bowl: USC vs Oklahoma (note: Oklahoma BCS #1 but lost their conference championship game)

2002

  • Orange Bowl: Miami vs USC
  • Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs Georgia

2001

  • Orange Bowl: Miami vs Oregon
  • Fiesta Bowl: Colorado vs Nebraska (Nebraska BCS #2, but Colorado conference champ)

2000

  • Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma vs Washington
  • Orange Bowl: Florida State vs Miami

1999

  • Orange Bowl: Florida State vs Alabama
  • Sugar Bowl: Virginia Tech vs Nebraska

1998

  • Sugar Bowl: Tennessee vs Ohio State
  • Orange Bowl: Florida State vs Kansas State

Somehow, this would work I think.

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