Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Inescapable BCS problem

I realize that in college football it is difficult to decide a national champion. There are way too many teams for there to be an accurate assessment of which teams are better than others, especially with the nature of football as a rough sport. However, there has to be a better way than the BCS, which in all fairness is better than the previous “National Champion” decider.

The reason why the system is flawed is pretty simple. Playing football is not the deciding factor on determining the winner. Sure, the premise is that the computers calculate rankings based on games. But games are more than stats and score lines. Games are matchups. Two top ranked teams that never play each other may match up very well or there may be a disparity in a running game or a defense. The point is, we don’t know if they don’t play.

In particular my gripe is that teams that are in mid conference schools are doomed to have doubt cast upon them. They have to schedule difficult non-conference games. They have to win difficult non-conference games. Then, they have to be perfect in conference to even be considered. Consider Florida’s Non-conference schedule with creampuffs like Troy, Florida International and Charleston Southern. Only Troy has a winning record while FIU has only 3 wins and CS is at .500. To me, it seems that Florida’s number 1 ranking is unwarranted due to their non-conference schedule. Sure, they have beaten SEC teams, but not impressively so. The scheduling of these schools strikes me as a way to increase their hype through dominating beat downs.

Now when you consider Boise State or TCU their ranking is dependent on their non-conference games. The reason TCU is above Boise is that TCU has been blessed with ranked opponents within conference. I hate to wonder what if, but let’s suppose for a second that Fresno State has beat Wisconsin and Cincinnati, two teams that they lost to by 8 points or less. Boise would likely be ranked ahead of TCU. In short, it seems odd that ranking is not decided by how you play, but who you play. Florida is rewarded by winning against SEC schools while Boise and TCU are punished for not having the privilege of playing SEC schools. Especially when you consider that the only reason for BYU’s ranking was a victory over a very weak Oklahoma team (YES THEY ARE WEAK) and Utah’s ranking was shaky as well (no victories over ranked opponents).

I understand why TCU is considered the better team. But, a system that is nearly entirely determined by how your opponents play and rewards schools for scheduling cream puffs needs to be abolished. On one hand you have Florida which continues to be rewarded for scheduling weak teams but has a strong conference. On another hand you have TCU which scheduled decent opponents, but benefited from overrated in conference competition. And, if you were an alien and had a third hand, you have Boise which attempts to schedule as strong a non-conference schedule as possible and struggles due to the mediocrity of their league. There are only two solutions in my opinion. Either create a playoff so we can see which teams are truly better all around, or allow schools to be able to shed conferences specifically for football, since this problem seems to be specific to that sport. For example, I would support Boise State being able to oust Wazzu from the Pac-10, since at the moment they are dead weight. I love the Cougars, and want them to win, maybe they could win in the WAC. They Beat Idaho! Just sayin.


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