July 13, 2005

Memo to BCS: Just give up

There comes a time in life when you just have to cut your losses. That time is now for the Bowl Championship Series and its officials.

The BCS, which could be better known as the Botched Completely Series, announced Monday that it was adding a new poll as part of its formula, this after the Associated Press and ESPN abandoned the flailing system that is in place to determine college football's national champion like rats leaving a sinking ship.

The new plan is to have 114 voters, all of whom will be former players, coaches or administrators, rank the top 25 teams in the country, producing the Harris Interactive College Football Poll.

The caveat is that the first balloting won't take place until four weeks of the regular season have been played. Votes also will be made public.

"This allows for some games to be played in the current season rather than allow teams to be ranked purely on preseason expectations," BCS coordinator and Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg.

Is this really going to solve the inherent problems in the BCS?

After all, the USA Today poll, which will begin with preseason rankings, as well as six computer polls, are still going to be used to determine the BCS rankings, which will make their debut this year Oct. 17.

Here's the reality: The BCS has been flawed since its inception in 1998.

It was exposed two years ago when an Oklahoma team that had been thumped 35-7 in the Big 12 title game by Kansas State still played in the BCS championship game against LSU, while Southern California, the nation's No. 1 team in both polls, was left out because of a No. 3 ranking in the BCS poll.

The Sooners laid another egg against the Tigers in the Sugar Bowl, while the Trojans downed Michigan in the Rose Bowl. The result was a split national championship, which brought the BCS system under greater scrutiny.

After some tweaking following the 2003 season, the BCS failed miserably again last season when four teams - USC, Oklahoma, Auburn and Utah - finished the regular season unbeaten.

The Tigers were the obvious victim this time. Despite a 13-0 season that was culminated by a victory against ACC champion Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, Auburn never got a shot at the national title, which went to the Trojans after a blowout win against the Sooners in the Orange Bowl.

Above and beyond the title game fiasco of a year ago, let's not forget the BCS was responsible for bringing the nation the captivating Pittsburgh-Utah matchup in the Fiesta Bowl. Thanks, guys.

The only way to get this thing right is to implement a playoff system. Every other NCAA sport is decided by a playoff, including football at every level except Division I-A.

But a playoff appears unlikely, as the current bowl system is lining too many people's pockets with money, while university officials, in an effort to hide their own greed, cite academics as their excuse.

Academic concerns? Give me a break.

At the very least, if we're going to be stuck with the Botched Completely System, why not have a selection committee determine the pairings based on the potential teams' full body of work during the course of a season, much like the system used to select the teams for the NCAA tournament in basketball.

Factor in strength of schedule, how a team finished the season, head-to-head meetings, common opponents.

Instead, when a team lost during the season becomes the major issue every year.

Polls are for fans, something to talk about around water coolers or on message boards. They are not the way to determine national champions. The same can be said for computer rankings.

If we won't let the players decide it properly on the field, then create a committee to determine the BCS matchups, title game included.

The Harris poll won't get it done, but on a bright note, Weiberg said, "We've made very good progress in terms of people responding affirmatively to wanting to be a part of the (Harris) poll."

That's great Kevin, but what happens when more than two teams are unbeaten at the end of this season?

Chris Wallace is a national editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached via email at cwallace@rivals.com.



 

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