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BCS’d, and We Like It

7:36 AM EST on December 3, 2008

It was the famed philosopher and noted overeater Mark Mangino who coined the term, "BCS'd".  In a rant that was not eclipsed until Mike Gundy proclaimed why journalists should come after him, the Kansas football coach took exception to some bad officiating against Texas and surmised that the game had been fixed on behalf of the Longhorns title hopes.  Now the politics of the Bowl Championship Series has penetrated our state, and for today, the people around here couldn't be happier about it.

Personally, I don't get the big deal.  The BCS is supposed to determine a national champion, and going into Bedlam weekend, you would have been informed to believe that the BCS rating was akin to the word of Gary England.  That's rediculous, though.

Take a look at how the BCS determined the Big XII South race.  Texas fans, who voice their complaints knowing fully well that this man is on the loose, argue that they have the same record as the Sooners, and beat them on a neutral site.  And, you know what, they are right.  If the same circumstances had occured in reverse, there would be no amount of alcohol that could keep Patrick from mailing excrement to Dan Beebe.  Now on the other hand, Sooner fans will argue that Texas had a weak non-conference schedule and that OU blew out more opponents.  And, you know what, they are right, too.  Then, of course, there is Texas Tech, and while they have no good arguments for why they are the superior team in the Big XII South, they did have the same record as both OU and UT, and their head coach really likes pirates.

So how do they decide which team is best?  With a computer.  With a computer that weighs opinions as its primary data source.  That's like having the recent elections decided by Gallup tracking polls rather than counting the ballots.  There is a decent chance the results are accurate, but you have to factor in the margin of error.  And the decision will always be protested.

That is not the way to get a satisfactory conclusion.  That's why Texas is going to continue to claim that OU's South title is tainted, why Miami will always say they should have been the 2000 National Champs, and why Democrats are always going to claim that Al Gore won Florida.  When you can count the ballots, count them.  And when you can solve the "who's best" question on the field, play the game.

Honestly, this has little to do with the recent Big XII debacle, because time limitations make it impossible to solve a three way tie in any satisfying way...unless we let the pom squads fight it out in a no-holds barred mud wrestling competiton.  But that's a whole other post.  We don't have to allow the national championship, which I currently refer to as the "Unicorn Bowl" due to it declaring a mythical champion, to continue on this way, though.  After the jump, I get all Craig Humphreys on you, and offer my plan.

I had planned to hold off on unveiling my plan until Barack Obama was inaugurated and began leading on this very important issue.  Then, I rememberd that he intends to run a bi-partisan administration, which means that a playoff plan offered by the government will give extra weight to teams from swing states (Ohio State and a Florida school in automatically) and would probably shore up the Catholic vote by letting Notre Dame in no matter their record.

This plan is better.  It factors in that collegiate politics, including the bowl organization committees, are not going to give up their "traditions" (translated to mean $$$$$) without some incentive.  Here is how it works:

  1. There will be eight teams in a single elimination format

Right now, the BCS picks two teams.  TWO!  With a sport where so many factors are involved (scheduling strength, margin of victory, style of play, et cetera, et cetera), how can a computer eliminate all but two teams from contention for number one.  Nay-sayers will always point out that if you let eight teams in, the ninth and tenth teams will cry foul. 

Sure.  The NCAA basketball tournament allows in 65 teams and there are still teams who complain that they should have been invited.  Of course, no one really thinks that Oral Roberts not getting one of 33 at-large bids means that Kansas winning it all is questionable.  However, if they only played one game to determine the champion, you have to think Memphis or UCLA would have rightfully bitched.

In football, I think eight teams gets enough teams in and will continue to make the regular season important.

2.  The five power conferences currently having automatic bids into BCS bowls (Big XII, Big 10, Pac-10, SEC, and ACC) will continue to have automatic bids.

One caveat here.  The automatic bid is revoked if no team in the conference finishes the regular season in the BCS top-10.  This year, that would mean the ACC would not have a representative since Georgia Tech (#12) is the highest ranked team from the conference.

Where this is important is in a hypothetical situation such as Missouri winning this weekend's Big XII title game.  Mizzou would get the Big XII's automatic bid, but only because both OU and Texas ended the regular season in the BCS top-10.  It would also allow the Big XII Championship loser to theoretically still be invited.  So, for instance, the year that OU lost to Kansas State after ending the regular season as the #1 BCS team, the Sooners would likely have still been a playoff competitor.

3.  There remainder of the playoff will be filled out using the BCS rankings.  However, no more than two teams from a conference can be invited.

If the invitations were sent out today, this year's playoff teams would be:  Alabama (SEC Champ), OU (Big XII Champ), Penn State (Big 10 Champ), USC (Pac-10 Champ), Texas (#3), Florida (#4), Utah (#6), and Boise State (#9).  Texas Tech (#7) would be by passed due to the stipulation that no more than two teams from a conference be allowed.  Also there are four wild cards due to the ACC losing their auto bid.

4.  The first round of the playoffs will be seeded by the rankings, and the games will be played at the home field of the higher rated team the week after the conference championship games.  However, if the team is a second invite from a conference, they will not be eligible to host a game.

Based on the scenario in #3 above, Texas and Florida would not host a game, so their seeding would slip from 3 and 4 respectively, to 5 and 6.  The first round match-ups would be Alabama/Boise St., OU/Penn St., USC/Texas, Utah/Florida.

5.  During the semi-final round, the BCS bowls come into play. 

Currently, the Orange, Rose, Fiesta, and Sugar bowls get their pick of BCS teams.  Now, only three would be involved every year, and there would be a rotation of which bowl hosted the Championship game a week after the ordinary bowl season...much like the championship game is handled now.  Then, the bowls would host a semi-final every other year.

The year after a bowl hosts the championship game, they would neither host a semi-final or the championship game.  That year, they would simply have first dibs at the first round losers to fill their regularly scheduled classic.  For the bowl hosting the championship game, they too would hold a bowl during the regular bowl season picked from teams not in the semi-finals.

This is probably the time to mention that the bowl season would go on as usual.  Oklahoma State would still have the Alamo or Holiday Bowl to attend, and other teams left out of the playoff will still be keeping ESPN and the other networks filled with programming and money still flowing to their coffers.  Yahoo! will still be able to host bowl pick'ems.  With the exception of four extra games among the teams people really want to see, and probably two extra 6-6 teams sitting at home watching with everyone else, nothing changes.

Okay, that's all I've got.  I'm sure there are plenty of people who can find holes with my plan, so leave your critiques in the comment section.  And for those Cowboy fans who feel betrayed that I wasn't ruthlessly questioning how Sooner fans can be so satisfied with an outcome that, had circumstances been traded they would have cried about not wanting to win on a technicality, I close with this picture of a Sooner fan who managed to get a ticket to the Bedlam game last weekend.

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