Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I hate the BCS

BYU's loss to Florida State last Saturday has highlighted, for me, the incredible injustice of the current BCS system.

Since they lost, BYU is now "out" when it comes to BCS consideration. At least that's what Mark May, Lou Holtz, Lee Corso and other media talking heads say. The new BCS-busters? Boise State, Houston and TCU. BYU and Utah have been tossed to the curb.

The formula is clear: Non-BCS team + one loss = no soup for you.

I hate the BCS for that reason. Every non-AQ team in the country is like a diseased dog fighting over one available token spot in the elite bowls. They fight and claw, and if they lose once they are done.

Rutgers, on the other hand, can lose 5 times and still waltz their way into the Fiesta Bowl if they win their conference (see: Pittsburgh, 2004).

Oh yeah--so can Duke. And Washington State. And myriad other infinitely crappy teams.

But being conference champs isn't enough for BYU. Or Utah, or Boise State or anyone else not in a BCS conference. We mutts have to be perfect. Not only that, but we have to hope all the other mutts stumble along the way.

So Boise State fans end up hating the Houston Cougars. No, there's no natural rivalry, they're just a couple of dogs who want that chicken bone.

I read an article this afternoon on ESPN that sums up my frustration nicely:

BYU had more pressure on it in the third week of the season than several teams have in the 12th. That’s because under the current BCS system, teams such as BYU, despite an impressive win over Oklahoma and a high ranking, still have to remain undefeated to earn something that is guaranteed to teams with less impressive résumés.

“It does put an awful lot of pressure and focus on them, and that’s one of the things that I think is illustrative of the injustice of the system is that they have to be flawless,” Mountain West deputy commissioner Bret Gilliland said prior to BYU’s loss to Florida State. “A team out of our league, or any of the nonautomatic qualifying conference, has to be flawless, has be perfect, can’t make a mistake. Unlike the AQs, they can stumble a couple times, two three, four losses, and they’re still going to have that automatic BCS berth at the end of the season. That, to me, is part of the whole dynamic that makes this a little bit more of a microscope maybe than is fair.”

BCS. Fun for the whole family.


Jonathan said...

Well put.

Dr. K said...

Great post, but you left out one crucial part of the equation.

Non-AQ teams have to be perfect while functioning at a massive financial disadvantage, and a crippling recruiting disadvantage.

Kids being recruited by BYU and Boise State have to suffer being told by PAC-10 coaches that if they head to the mountains, they can't play for a national championship, but if they stay on the west coast, they can.

The fundamental injustice is way beyond the requirement to be perfect. If not, Utah and Boise State would already have won a couple national championships in the past decade.

Jeris and Suzanna Hobbs said...

Utah and Boise State aren't winning any NCs anytime soon and it isn't because of the BCS. I think it sucks that the BCS is this all important goal that is almost impossible to reach, but we need to just deal with it. Play with what we have and earn a AQ. If they never give us the AQ just schedule cream puffs and hope we don't get rolled in the BCS game. I don't want to shake anyones small team foundation, but BYU, Boise State, Utah, and TCU aren't as good as the other top 5 schools out there. They just aren't.

Dr. K said...


Weird logic...

First, consider the Utah-Alabama Sugar Bowl last January, in which the Utes totally rolled a really great 'Bama team, or the Utah-Pitt Fiesta Bowl, or the Boise State-Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl, or BYU-Oklahoma two weeks ago. The best MWC teams compete well with the best teams from the anointed monopolistic conferences.

Second, statistically last year the MWC was the number 4 power conference in the country, ahead of the ACC, Big East and Pac-10. That includes head-to-head competition between teams from difference conferences. But the ACC, Big East and Pac-10 had automatic qualifiers, and the collective set of non-AQ schools had to settle for one slot (if they qualified, which requirement is not made of the champions of the other lower ranked conferences who happen to be in the BCS cartel).

Third, the parity between the MWC and the BCS has been achieved WITHOUT A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD in terms of either money or recruiting.

Fourth, why do we have to deal with it?! It violates US anti-trust laws. It's illegal, discriminatory and un-American for 6/11 of the college football conferences to establish how the money will be divided for 11/11 of the conferences.

We need to deal with this the same way America had to deal with civil rights issues in the 60's. In America we deal with injustice by fixing it.

Allen said...

Finally something intelligent on this blog.

I think you would enjoy this:

Rock said...

First off, I hate the BCS more than the Utes. That is why I "cheer" for the dirty reds when they play out of conference games. I HATE doing it, but I HATE the BCS even more.

Can anyone tell me why the BCS has automatic qualifying conferences? Why not just have the top 12 teams play in BCS games? It's so, so stupid.

And where the heck does the 4 years of automatic-qualifying come from? Was the number picked out of a hat? The Big East can shut it down until 2012 and drop every non-conference game scheduled, and they're still swimming in BCS cash until then? Why re-evaluate every 4 years? I just makes no sense.

Lastly, why all the hate about BYU losing to FSU? Is the loss to the Seminoles worse than Florida's loss to Ole Miss last year?

Dr. K is right. We need some type of nation-wide freedom march to the Capital to take down the BCS.

Show me someone on the BCS staff, and I'll show you how to freaking punch a guy in the face.

Rock said...

I'm going to drop 10 bucks on a shirt.

Heath and Shareen said...

Well another one of those "top 5 schools" lost tonight. I don't know if you can say that TCU or Boise just aren't as good. That's why they play the games, right? ie. Oklahoma St./USC/OU....

v4tex said...

Speaking of Mark May and those of his ilk. The Oklahoma loss wasn't even 5 minutes old when Mark May self-satisfied mug was on my TV talking about the ways Oklahoma could still play for the national championship, not just a BCS berth but the championship. BYU beats the potential NC and then loses two weeks later and they are done.

I firmly believe that if Oklahoma wins out and there are no top undefeated teams they will be in the NC game. If BYU wins out chances are they will be in the Vegas Bowl.

Jeris and Suzanna Hobbs said...

Look, I'm a huge BYU fan. I would love nothing more than to see them raise a NC banner. Let me just ask one question. In your heart of hearts do you really think that Utah '08 or Boise St. '06 were the best teams in the nation. I hate the BCS, but I think in the past few years the NC champs have been right on. I do think we deserve a chance, but lets not get ahead of ourselves in talking National Champions until we prove we can beat top 5 teams as well as consistantly beating the top 20 teams.

Dr. K said...

Was Utah '08 the best team in the country? Up until the Sugar Bowl, I would have said no. Too many close victories in the last 2 minutes. But after rolling the Tide, absolutely yes. Even the pollsters said in the end that they were #2. Only difference is, they didn't get a chance to play for it all. So we don't actually know, because in the BCS world, we don't get to actually know.

Utah '04 was an even more egregious snub. Nobody came close to them all year, starting with Texas A&M and ending with Pitt in the Fiesta bowl. Again, there was no consideration at all that they might be able to play for it all. So we don't know, and we don't get to actually know. The system doesn't permit it.

The fundamental inequity is that if a nobody team like Rutgers, from a lousy conference like the Big East, launches a Cinderella season, and win out, they have a shot at a national championship. But if consistently ranked teams like BYU, Utah, TCU (from the 3rd or 4th ranked MWC conference), or Boise State win out, there is NO WAY that they can prove or disprove that they deserve a national championship. THE SYSTEM DOESN'T PERMIT IT. These teams are playing in the unspoken but real NCAA Non-National Championship Division.

We DO beat top-5 and top-20 teams every year, despite disadvantages in money and recruiting. We ARE top-5 and top-20 teams every year, despite disadvantages in money and recruiting. We simply don't have the same right to play for it all that other teams do.

The only equitable way to deal with this is through a playoff. Then we'd know if Utah '04, Utah '08 or Boise State '06 were really that good.

Heath and Shareen said...

In my heart of hearts, I never would have thought USC would have lost to a previously win-less Washington. I thought Utah had no chance against Alabama, same with BYU/OU. Anything can happen in a game. If Utah '04 had been permitted to play for the title...who knows? Maybe in my heart I don't think Boise or Utah '08 was the best team in those years, but if they can go in and win the game (which is totally possible), then they would deserve it. But they don't even get the chance. You say you think the BCS has been getting it right, but we don't really know, do we? These last few weeks have shown that what people think isn't right. Top 10 teams after top 10 teams are going down. Maybe by season's end, it will be more apparent, but somebody will get screwed-happens every year. We need a play-off. Teams need to win it on the field, not on paper. I know you know that it just isn't fair.

Eliot said...

(For the record, UW broke their 15-game losing streak a week earlier against Idaho. As a USC fan, I knew this would be a tough game, and I wasn't completely surprised by the loss. That's another story though.)

I can see that people here are frustrated, but there are at least two distinct issues.

Did you guys know that even teams in BCS conferences that go undefeated can get bumped out of national championship games? And a team from any conference that is ranked first or second in the BCS at the end of the regular season gets to play in the national championship? If your beef is just with the national championship, then you'll have to take that up with the pollsters and the computer rankings. I'll tell you right now that none of the BCS buster teams would have won the national championship game, nor are the "best" two teams always there. The fact is, to get to the national championship this season, BYU had to go undefeated, just like any team outside the SEC and Big 12.

The bigger problem with the BCS system is that the AQ conferences automatically qualify for one BCS bowl game, and therefore also get the money (and national attention, etc.). So you get USC pummeling someone from the Big Ten every year, and a 9-4 ACC champion and a 11-2 Big East champion that has played a schedule about as difficult as an average MWC team. Sure those teams are ranked, and sometimes they win, but non-AQ teams also win those sometimes, and certainly deserve the chance more than some teams that get the chance.

The BCS isn't going away soon. The best thing for us to do is get the MWC an automatic bid, then we can leave the WAC and the rest to fend for themselves.

Triz said...

Eliot, as much as I hate them, you can't say that the Utes would not have won the NC game last year had they been able to play in it. They beat Alabama more convincingly and by a larger margin than Florida did a couple weeks earlier. And Florida won the NC. So how can you argue that there's no way Utah could have won that game? Yeah, yeah, I know, I know, Alabama didn't care and blah blah blah......doesn't matter. Against the 1 common opponent, Utah was more impressive. I'm not saying that they would have for sure beaten Florida in a NC game, but how can you say they wouldn't have? That's the problem.....they didn't get a chance to play. So to say BCS busters couldn't have beaten teams in the NC is just as ludacris as saying they definitely would have won.

Jeris and Suzanna Hobbs said...

I'm not trying to say that the current system isn't flawed, I'm just saying that I don't see a better way to do it. I really don't want to see a playoff. I love how every game in college football matters. Last year Texas Tech beat Texas in an amazing game that went down to the wire. That game wouldn't have meant as much if there was a big playoff at the end of the season.
BYU could have gone to the NC game this year had they won out. It wasn’t a guarantee, but they had just as good a chance as teams from the Big East and the ACC.
Utah beat up on Alabama. They played out of their minds, but I just don’t see them being able to do it game in and game out.
Florida outscored their opponents 611-181 last season. Yes they did lose to Ole Miss by 1 point and yes it was at home, but those numbers are pretty dominant. Utah outscored opponents 480-224. I’m not saying that Utah would have lost that game and I (as well as most of the nation) would have loved to see that game, but I don’t think they belonged.
If we are talking about fairness, how fair would it be for a team like Boise State, who plays no one this year except for a not very good Oregon team, or Utah last year, who just barely squeaked by 3 of their opponents, to enter into a NC game? Other teams in tougher conferences like the SEC, Pac 10 and Big 12 play tough teams week in and week out, but get shafted because they lost one game to a really good top 5 team. Life isn’t fair, BYU and other schools need to just win their games consistently and they will get recognition, BCS bids and yes even someday maybe a trip to the National Championship.
I just want the two best teams to play for the National Championship: Not the two teams with the best records.

Eliot said...

Did I get censored?

Adam said...

Eliot- I haven't censored anything.

Eliot said...

That sucks. I guess something was wrong with the internets when I tried to respond to Triz. The arguments there were lucid and cogent, but I couldn't recreate them perfectly.

I know that none of those BCS buster teams would have won the national championship games. I also knew that BYU would beat FSU last week, OU would beat BYU earlier, USC would beat Texas (or Stanford), etc. As sure as I am about some games, everybody's wrong sometimes.

I concede that last year's Utah has an argument for deserving a national championship. But I also want to bring up the 2004 undefeated Auburn (out of the SEC even) that didn't play for the national championship. The fact is that teams get left out of the national championship game, BCS conference or not. In my mind, (one-loss) USC would have beat either of the two (one-loss) teams playing for the national championship. I know that's not the worst injustice, but I just want to say that there is always room for argument every year, regardless of how many teams are undefeated.

As far as letting, say, an undefeated Boise State play in the national championship, probably my biggest problem is that I don't want to watch a lopsided game for the national championship. It should be the best game of the season, but it would be terrible to see a Hawaii/Georgia (or USC/OU) bloodbath.

The only reasonable solution in my mind is not a full-blown playoff, but a more conservative four-game playoff (an "and-one", if you will). This way, if Boise State (hypothetically) gets in, they have their chance in the first game. If they win, then everyone will be interested in seeing if they are the real deal, and they likely will at least be competitive in the national championship game. If they lose, then at least they don't have anything to whine about, and the rest of the college football world will get one last game for the national championship.

Shareen said...

I would love to see some form of a play-off (all the other divisions of college football have one) or at least let the MWC have an automatic bid. I would even be okay with no automatic bids, just let the top 12 in the polls go to the BCS games. Last year that would have meant that Boise, TCU and Utah would have gone to a BCS bowl game. But we could never have something like that happen could we?