It’s finally over. The long national nightmare that was the BCS is no more. In 2014, we enter the era of the College Football Playoff.
Of course, we’ll eventually come to complain about that, too, because sports fans like complaining almost as much as this writer likes hyperbole. But for now we’re at peace, and everyone can dream about their team cracking the top four next year and actually getting a fair shot to be the National Champions.
However, in the unlikely event that you find yourself on the fence about the new system for determining an NCAA football champion, check out today’s list. We give you nine good reasons why we’re really glad the BCS is no more.
Take a look…
In the olden days, before the BCS system, so many things had to line up just right for there to be a consensus National Champion. One team had to dominate, and other contenders had to lose big games. As a result, there were so many years in which one poll declared one team the champs, while another poll declared another team the champs. And that sucked.
Officially, the BCS changed this. Two teams played for the championship and that was it. Only that wasn't it. Yes, it was always clear who won the championship game, but on several occasions there was serious disagreement about who really earned the right to play in that championship game.
This year the BCS got it totally right. FSU and Auburn were the most deserving teams. But if Ohio State had finished the regular season undefeated they would have played in the championship game instead of Auburn. However, no one outside Ohio really thought OSU was better than Auburn, Alabama, or even SEC runner-up Missouri. So if OSU has gone undefeated and played FSU for the Championship, there still would have been doubts—just like there were in 2004-05 when five teams finished the season undefeated, only two of which got to play for all the marbles.
Thus, the BCS system didn't end the controversy. It just gave it a different look.
9. Never Really Ended Championship Controversy
In the BCS system, one single loss could sink a really good team's chances of a National Championship. This wasn't all bad, of course. It meant that every single game in the second half of the season was like single-elimination playoff game, and that was exciting at times. However, everyone knows that one loss doesn't mean the best team isn't the best team. Even if OSU hadn't lost the last game of the regular season, everyone knew a one-loss Alabama was better than a no-loss OSU. But the BCS system would have put an undefeated OSU in the title game, which would have been lame.
I'm not saying I want a system that allows teams two or three "second chances" each season. But I also don't necessarily want one last-second loss to a good team to eliminate an exciting team from contention. (And neither, I suspect, do Alabama fans.)
8. One and Done
Conference championship games are a great way to weed out a bunch of would-be contenders...if all the major conferences play conference championship games. But this is not the case.
The SEC has been doing it since 1992. But the ACC didn't start until 2005, the Big 10 and Pac-12 didn't start until 2011, and the Big 12 did it from 1996-2010 but don't anymore. Now there's just a total imbalance in conference schedules. In the SEC they play eight regular season conference games, and the two top teams play each other in a ninth. In the Big 12, all the teams play nine conference games, which sounds fair. But Baylor playing Texas on the last day of the season is not the same as Missouri playing Auburn.
Then there's the other side of the coin. Sometimes—like last year's Big Ten Championship Game—the team that has no business even getting a shot at the conference title (I'm looking at you, 7-5 Wisconsin) pulls off a huge upset. Then they get a BCS bowl bid over a far superior team.
Now, I know what you're saying: this isn't the BCS's fault. It's the conferences' fault. And you're right. But the aforementioned "one and done" nature of the BCS system combined with the way bowls are selected (which we'll get to in a little bit) screwed teams over.
7. Conference Championship Games Screwed Teams Over
This is true. It rarely came into play, but when it did it was disastrous.
Just ask Texas Longhorns fans. In 2008, the Longhorns, Oklahoma Sooners, and Texas Tech Red Raiders finished in a three-way tie for first place in the Big 12 South with identical 7-1 conference records. Normally you would look to break the tie with head-to-head records, but Texas Tech beat Texas, Texas beat Oklahoma, and Oklahoma beat Texas Tech. So...uh oh.
In the end, the BCS standings were the tie-breaker. And since Oklahoma was a little bit ahead of Texas in the BCS standings, they got the honor of thrashing Missouri in the Big 12 Championship Game and earned a trip to the BCS Championship Game. Texas? Oh, they just got screwed.
6. BCS Standings Were Used as Tie-Breakers
I don't mean all computers are stupid. I love computers. I'm using one right now. And technically, it's a person who formulated a mathematical equation who is responsible for the BCS rankings, not the computers who carried out the calculations. But for the sake of simplicity, let's just say the computers generate the BCS rankings.
Is this an inherently bad thing? No. I'm always in favor of advanced metrics in sports. Seeing is believing, but believing isn't always right. People believe some really dumb sh*t. (E.g., that Derek Jeter was good at defense.) So I say bring on the complicated stats and formulas.
However, at the end of the day, I want a championship determined on the field. So use the computers to determine (approximately) four or six or eight best teams, but then make those teams play each other to see who's the best. Don't leave it to computers, otherwise there's no point to any of this. We might as well just simulate seasons on EA's NCAA Football and put the theoretical winner on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
5. Computers Are Stupid
With the advent of the BCS system, the "BCS Bowls"—the Fiesta, Orange, Rose, and Sugar—became the most prestigious. So obviously, the top ten teams in the BCS standings got the invites, right?
Yeah, no. That's not how it worked. The BCS system gave the American Athletic Conference (formerly Big East), ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC "Automatic Qualifying Conference" status, meaning their champions were guaranteed a spot in a BCS Bowl. Then, on top of that, any champion of a lesser conference ranked in the top 12 got an automatic BCS bid. And, finally, no more than two schools from any conference could get a BCS bid.
The point of all this, of course, was to spread the wealth around a little bit, which is nice. The effect, however, was to keep the best teams out of the best games. This year, for example, #11 Oklahoma played in the Sugar Bowl, #15 UCF played in the Fiesta Bowl, and #12 played in the Orange Bowl. So #8 Missouri and #9 South Carolina got screwed because #2 Auburn and #3 Alabama took the SEC's spots, while #10 Oregon got screwed because lower ranked teams took the AQ bids and the selection committee liked Clemson better.
4. The Bowl Selection Process Was Ridiculous
The biggest factor in the recent conference realignment tornado is TV money—certain schools and conferences have more potential to bring it in, and everybody started moving around to get a bigger piece of the action. However, another key factor that can't be overlooked is the BCS system. TCU ditched Mountain West for the Big-12 (via the Big East); Central Florida ditched Conference USA for the Big East/AAC; Utah ditched Mountain West for the Pac-12; and Boise State initially ditched the Mountain West for the Big East—probably only pulling out of the deal because the Big East and BCS were falling apart.
The central element in all these moves? The schools went from conferences without automatic BCS Bowl bids to conferences with automatic BCS Bowl bids. By doing so, even if they didn't make BCS bowl appearances themselves, they still got a piece of the revenue distributed within the conference. Geography, rivalries, and tradition thus went out the window.
3. The BCS System Encouraged Realignment
Don't get me wrong, I'm not some commie who wants redistribution of wealth. But the Bowl selection process privileged rich, big-conference teams over everyone else. The BCS conferences gave the majority of the big games (and thus big paydays) to themselves, which in turn made other teams beg to join their conferences. And all this made it so much harder for programs to grow.
Maybe you don't believe it, though, citing teams like UCF or Boise State, who had breakthroughs. But first of all, UCF only "broke through" by switching to an AQ conference. And, more importantly, do you know how many times non-AQC teams earned BCS bowl bids in the history of the BCS system? Eight. Do you know how many total BCS bowl bids there were? Try 144. Six of those measly eight BCS bids for non-AQ teams were earned by Boise State, TCU, and Utah, who had two each...and two of them are now in former AQ conferences—because if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. The other spots were earned by Hawaii (2008 Sugar Bowl) and Northern Illinois (2013 Orange Bowl).
Now, I'm not saying more teams from non-AQ conference deserved BCS bids. I'm just saying the system made it impossible for them to get to the point where they deserved them.
2. The BCS System Was a Monopoly
Yes, there will be problems. It's not like people are going to agree on who the four best teams in the country are. There will be still be plenty of outrage. And there will certainly be problems that nobody saw coming. But you simply deny that doubling the number of teams with a shot at the title increases the chances of getting it right. It's simple math.
Moreover, the playoff system won't ruin the importance of regular season games the way some people think. It will enhance it by making more games more important. This year, it didn't really matter what Stanford or Baylor or South Carolina did on the final week of the season because, no matter what, they weren't going to crack to top two. But if the four-team playoff were in effect this year, all those games would have mattered more, because wins combined with certain other losses could have catapulted them into the top four.
Most importantly, though, the playoff pool is very limited. We don't want cinderellas in here, and there won't be. If the number four team beats the number one team and the number two or three team to win the championship, they will have earned it.
So the new system is going to be better. And for that reason, most of all, nobody will miss the stupid BCS.
1. The College Football Playoff Is Going to (Mostly) Rock