Sunday, December 3, 2006


June 19, 2008 Note: This is a post that originally appeared on Golden's Football Rankings and is reporduced here for posterity.

Surprise, Surprise, The votes are in, and once again the BcS has controversy with a deserving team left on the outside looking in. Due to some campaigning by Urban Meyer and some excessive whining from Gary Danielson, the Gators are in, Michigan is out.
I guess I wouldn’t have been as disappointed in this outcome if Michigan had dropped to #4 immediately after the loss at Ohio State. If the voters truly believed that Florida was better than Michigan, that would be ok. But that’s not why they voted the way that they did. This was not a vote for Florida, it was a vote against a second Michigan / Ohio State game. Some of the voters even admitted that they thought Michigan was the better team, but they still voted for Florida. So unlike 2001 or 2003, when Big 12 teams who suffered more decisive losses in their final regular season game got championship game bids, the voters voted to engineer a particular match up, rather than voting for the two best teams. Instead of making the regular season more meaningful, the BCS has made the regular season meaningless.
So how do we fix this for the future? Eliminate the top and bottom five votes for each team in each poll. Create a BCS committee similar to the basketball committee that will be above the silly politics of the coaches and Harris polls. Of course the most obvious solution is the one that 80-90% of all fans, many coaches and players would like to see – a playoff.
But there are strong reasons why a playoff is unlikely to happen, the first of which is Money. The bowls are a huge windfall for the power conferences. The Big Ten has seven teams going to bowl games. The SEC has nine teams playing in bowl games this year and will take in over $45 million dollars from those bowl games. It would take an astronomical payoff from any potential playoff to replace the nearly $4 million per school each SEC team receives. Additionally, the bowls create a large amount of revenue for southern and western cities. Any university president who came out publicly in favor of a playoff would have to deal with pressure from local tourism boards and business owners to ensure their yearly cash cow doesn’t disappear.
Perhaps the strongest roadblock to a playoff is the power conferences themselves. The bowl system helps to maintain the current balance of power in college football. The BCS conferences got 44 of the 64 bids and a lion’s share of the prize money. It would have been more if not for a new NCAA rule, which forbid power conference 6-6 teams getting at large, bids over 7-5 or 8-4 teams. For the first time this year both the MAC and Sun Belt got at large bids to bowl games. With more money, and the extra practice time that is permitted with a bowl game, the power conferences have a stranglehold on success in college football. There are no Gonzagas or George Masons in football.
Furthermore, the current system helps the southern power structure of the game. Most of the bowl games are played in the south; most of the bowl games are won by teams that are closer to the bowl. How successful would the ACC be in basketball if all NCAA tournament games were held in Chicago of Kansas City? The reason the BCS was created by an SEC commissioner and is still run by a former SEC commissioner is that the SEC has more to gain with the continuation of the current system that just about any other conference. 17 of the last 28 national champions came from the south. In contrast, in I-AA, the last 28 years of playoffs, where teams play on campus, have resulted in 14 southern championships, and 14 northern championships. A playoff system would level the playing field and would take away the built in advantage that SEC, ACC and to a lesser extent, PAC 10 teams currently hold.So if you are waiting for a playoff, don’t hold your breath. If you really want a playoff, root for more situations like 2004, where an SEC team is left on the outside looking in.