A quick description of the BCS is as follows; It is a systems that determines the National Champion for Division 1A College Football, with the “two best” teams squaring off in the BCS National Championship Game. The current situation started with agreements before the 1998 season, the four bowls joined with the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pacific-10 and Southeastern Conferences and the University of Notre Dame to form the BCS. Conference USA also signed on to the agreement. The BCS has been in place since 1998, but due to a number of controversial selections and pairings, numerous changes have cumulated into what we see today. Prior to 2006, Eight teams were chosen to compete in four Bowl Games; Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, and the Fiesta Bowl. The BCS replaced the “Bowl Alliance” (1995-1997), which in turn followed the “Bowl Coalition” (1992-1994).
All other NCAA sports determine their champions through a playoff format; Baseball and the Road to Omaha, Basketball and the Final Four and Hockey with the Frozen Four. The playoff formats did not start until the 1930’s and 1940’s but even before that college football was very popular at even surpassed the popularity of professional football, this was due to the great depression and the lack of economic security for both players and management. Consequently, the bowl games began to appear when it became too time consuming and expensive to travel to conduct a playoff.
The first bowl of consequence was in 1902 with the East-West game held in Pasadena California. This game was held on New Years day in conjunction with the Tournament of Roses. In 1901, the Tournament of Roses Parade concluded that the growing sport of football would be a beneficial marketing tool to compliment the parade. “The committee chose to promote a geographical theme, pitting two teams from different parts of the country. Powerhouse Michigan (10-0) got the nod to represent the East, while Pacific champion Stanford (3-1-2) was chosen for the West.” “The game was renamed the Rose Bowl in the late 1920’s due to the shape of the new stadium built in Pasadena. By the 1930’s, the Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl, and the Sugar Bowl were also held on January 1 to showcase teams from other regions of the country”.
Beginning in the 1940’s college football began to establish contracts that allowed their teams eligibility into championship games. Officially, in 1947 the Big Ten Conference and the Pacific Ten Conference were agreed to commit their champion teams to play in the Rose Bowl. This agreement still exists under the current BCS. This system created a new problem. This now created the possibility of one or two of the top teams not playing for the National Championship. To address the possible problem, all possible eligible conferences, all the Bowl affiliates and Notre Dame teamed up to create the Bowl Coalition, which when all was said and done was to create one National Championship Game. To make a long story short, a new problem surfaced, any Non-BCS eligible team was not allowed to play in the Championship game, as BYU did in 1984. This system was in place from 1992 to 1994. In what was possibly one the most controversial years in college football, 1994, ended with two undefeated teams. “Two teams-Nebraska and Penn State-finished the season undefeated, but the Huskers were awarded the national championship after beating No. 3 Miami in the Orange Bowl. Penn State, which beat No. 12 Oregon, 38-20, in the Rose Bowl, finished second in both polls”. Needless to say, this was the final year of the “Bowl Coalition” and replaced by the “Bowl Alliance”.
Beginning in 1995, the “Bowl Alliance” consisting of the five conferences, it was reduced to four, prior to the start of the 1996 season, and only three bowl games (Fiesta, Orange and Sugar). For the next few years, the Championship Game rotated among them. The issue still at hand was that the Big Ten and the Pac-10Rose Bowl, and Non-BCS teams were excluded from the National Championship Game. After negotiations and a round-table of discussions, The BCS, as we know it today, was formed. The Tournament of Roses Association agreed to release the Big Ten and Pac-10 Champions, if it meant a birth in a Championship Game. In addition, the Rose Bowl was now added in the mix as a BCS game and now part of the yearly rotation of games. The Rose Bowl game was also allowed to keep its exclusive TV time and slot as the highly regarded New Years Day Game. As part of this new structure, mid-major conferences were now included in the BCS mix based on their performance. champions, the
The man considered responsible for the creation of the current BCS format is former SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer. According the Kramer, he does not see a playoff in the future, largely because of the Rose Bowl. “I don’t think they’ll get there anytime soon, because the Pac-10 and the Big Ten will never give up (their affiliation with) the Rose Bowl,” he says. “And I wouldn’t either if I were them.” Kramer believes that there were three major objectives with the new creation; 1) to expand interest nationally in the sport, 2) preserve the bowl structure because of the postseason opportunities it provides and 3) bring together the top two teams at the end of the year. Though the system has created controversy around the college football world, one thing is has created is a constant buzz, with interest peaking like it has never been, “People in Florida are now excited about how an Oregon is doing, and people in Louisiana are now interested in how West Virginia is doing,” Kramer says. “Games always had a regional attraction; now they’ve got a national attraction.”
According to the BCS…
The BCS is …
- The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is a five-game arrangement for post-season college football that is designed to match the two top-rated teams in a national championship game and to create exciting and competitive matchups between eight other highly regarded teams in four other games.
- The bowl games participating are the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, FedEx Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl, Allstate Sugar Bowl and the BCS National Championship Game which will be played each year at one of the bowl sites.
- The BCS is managed by the commissioners of the 11 NCAA Division I-A conferences, the director of athletics at the University of Notre Dame, and representatives of the bowl organizations. The conferences are Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, Sun Belt, Pacific 10, Southeastern and Western Athletic.
- The conference commissioners and the Notre Dame athletics director make decisions regarding all BCS issues, in consultation with an athletics directors advisory group and subject to the approval of a presidential oversight committee whose members represent all 117 Division 1-A programs.
- The five BCS games are part of the overall bowl structure. All bowl games provide meaningful season-ending opportunities to teams.
- As one conference commissioner said, “the celebration that occurs among the student-athletes, coaching staff and fans at the end of each bowl games is an indication of the importance of all bowl games.”
- The BCS places great premium on the regular season of college football. Football weekends are an important ingredient in the overall college experience-going well beyond simply what occurs in the athletics department. A significant amount of the revenue that supports all athletic programs is generated by regular-season football. And so it is of great importance that the regular season remains strong and vibrant.
- The top two teams were matched in bowl games infrequently before the BCS, when conferences were contractually obligated to certain games and there was no flexibility to attempt to match the top teams.
- The BCS conferences have a contract with Fox Sports to televise the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls through 2010 and the National Championship Games through 2009. ABC has an agreement to continue to televise the 2010 National Championship Game and the Rose Bowl through 2014.
1. The top two teams in the final BCS Standings will play in the national championship game.
2. The champions of the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and Southeastern Conferences automatically qualify for BCS games each year.
3. One team from among the champions of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, or the Western Athletic Conference automatically qualify for a BCS game if either: A. Such team is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings, or, B. Such team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS Standings and its ranking in the final BCS Standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls.
4. Notre Dame will automatically qualify for a BCS bowl if it is in the top eight of the final BCS Standings.
5. If any of the 10 slots remain open after application of provisions 1 through 4, and an at-large team from a conference with an annual automatic berth for its champion is ranked No. 3 in the final BCS Standings, that team shall become an automatic qualifier.
6. If any of the 10 slots remain open after application of provisions 1 through 5, and if Step No. 5 has not been applied and an at-large team from a conference with an annual automatic berth for its champion is ranked No. 4 in the final BCS Standings, that team shall become an automatic qualifier.
7. If any slots remain unfilled after the placement of all teams qualifying for an automatic berth, then the bowls shall choose their participants from the “pool of eligible teams” (see below.)
Pool of Eligible Teams
If berths are available after the automatic qualifiers have been identified, then the bowls shall select at-large participants from the “pool of eligible teams,” which shall include any Division I-A team that is bowl-eligible and meets the following requirements:
A. Has won at least nine regular-season games, not including exempted games, and
B. Is among the top 14 teams in the final BCS Standings
The BCS is Working
The BCS is succeeding. The nation’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams met only eight times in bowl games in the 57 seasons between 1936 and 1992, when the “bowl coalition” (a predecessor of the BCS) was created. No. 1 and No. 2 have met eight times in the 15 years since 1992. In the nine-year history of the BCS, the AP’s No. 1 and No. 2 have met six times.
The BCS is not …
- It is not a playoff system. It is nothing more than attempt to match the No. 1 and No. 2 teams within the bowl system and to create exciting matchups in four other bowl games.
- It is also not an exclusive system that rewards only a few. The University of Utah in 2005, Boise State University in 2006 and the University of Hawaii in 2007 demonstrated that a team from a conference without an annual automatic berth can have access to a BCS bowl game. The selection process has been further adjusted to allow even more such access in the future.
Support for a playoff will be out there, but the main purpose of the system is to have the top two teams play each other in the final. If you look at the history of college football, pre and post BCS, between 1936 and 1992, the No.1 and No.2 teams met only eight times in the 57 bowl games. Sine the inception of this new mathematically based system, the No.1 and No.2 teams have met eight times in the fifteen years since the “Bowl Coalition” was created, and six out of the nine years since the BCS has been in place, including this year with the Sooners of Oklahoma taking on the Florida Gators. On the flip side, is the reason that there is no playoff because of economics and finances, possibly? Previously, conferences that received bowl bids got nothing in return. Since the creation of the Bowl Championship Series, an estimated $70 million dollars have been received by teams and conferences that do no not have that automatic birth into big games. According to the BCS home page, as of January 1, 2008, the economic return from the cities that have hosted the Bowl games has come in around $1.2 billion.
In a recent article by Derrick Fox, President and CEO of the Valero Alamo Bowl, his point of view, is that the current state of football, is good for the fans and good for the game. People have a strong passion for football, which is why it makes it so special. The current state of the game gives each week playoff atmosphere. From week one up until the final week of the season one loss can destroy a team and two losses for a championship team is almost unheard of, with the lone exception being LSU in 2007. If you were to change the college football format, as we have it now, would change the landscape of college football completely, as Fox states, “What today’s critics don’t realize is that a playoff would completely change the current bowl system and be a detriment to the players, fans, universities and local bowl-hosting communities”…. “San Antonio experienced this first hand last year with the Big 12 football championship between number one Missouri and number nine Oklahoma. A majority of the 60,000 fans at the Alamodome were local residents, as Tiger and Sooner fans had difficulty getting flights on a week’s notice, while others were saving their money for their bowl trip.” With the current financial situation that we are currently in, the financial stability of the college bowl games is very important. Fox stated, the Valero Alamo Bowl gives opportunity to “hundreds of volunteers, sponsors, ticket buyers, business leaders and media partners in support of a football tradition that means something to San Antonio.” As previously stated, $1.2 billion has been generated and one can only imagine the numerous jobs that this has created. A playoff could help fix some issues, but if you look at this objectively, currently, college football is at its pinnacle. Any team can win on any day, every game has a playoff atmosphere, and as everyone knows, any publicity is good publicity.
Devon Teeple is a staff member of the Business of Sports Network which includes the Biz of Baseball, the Biz of Football, the Biz of Basketball and the Biz of Hockey. He is also a intern with the Football Outsiders and collaborator with the Plymouth River Eels. Devon is available as a freelance writer and be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com