Until 2013-2014 where a 4 team playoff will be implemented in NCAA Football and everyone will at least be slightly more satisfied with the system (doubtful, but one can hope), the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Rankings selection system has plagued sports bar debates and even the Government to attempt at intervention. I have always been on the fence about the BCS, not even totally submitting that it is completely preposterous, but never aligning with those outliers who believe the system truly works. I wrote an article a year ago for KRUI Sports while I was still a student at Iowa (Find that article HERE) breaking down the BCS by year and trying to figure out where it went wrong and where it didn’t. At the time, I was searching for answers to try and defend the BCS (Essentially the assignment I had given myself) because I have always held the belief that at least playing the opposite side of an argument for a bit is beneficial for everyone involved. Remarkably, I was able to support the BCS just over 71% of the time (C’s get degrees, you know? If not, the framed piece of paper on my wall denotes that).
All of that being said, it has become apparent in the past 6 months to a year since writing that article that the BCS is a dying system due to the sheer lack of support shown by coach’s, players, and ultimately the fans. The BCS selection show a couple weeks back for 2012 showcased an interesting controversy with the 1 loss, non automatic qualifying conference, Northern Illinois Huskies being granted a BCS berth to play in the Discover Orange Bowl against the ACC Champion Florida State Seminoles. I understand that the BCS was originally supposed to simply decide the National Championship game, but it has evolved into an entirely different species with the 3-4 rule, top 16 rule, and even the Automatic Non-AQ rule thanks to the BSU’s, TCU’s and Utah’s of the world. The Huskies lost to the 4-8 Iowa Hawkeyes in the season opener at Soldier Field in what ends up looking like a horrendous loss due to the struggles that took place in Iowa City (Trust me, struggles is an understatement). Mothership Analyst Kirk Herbstreit bashed the BCS on Sunday for its selection of Northern Illinois, putting it simply, many other teams in the country deserve the spot more than the MAC Champion, especially OKlahoma. He loves Oklahoma.
Here is his tirade:
After Herby went off on NIU it has become clear to many, myself included that there is something wrong here. I’m not going to go off on a big long rant about how NIU deserves respect, or doesn’t for that matter because they lost to a pathetic Hawkeyes team, but what I will do here is explain how the BCS was a flawed system from the beginning, because there was no room for foresight, and in reality, blaming the BCS in its current state is a cop out argument with essentially no validity.
When looking at the 2012 BCS picture it’s painfully obvious there are 4 teams that you could make a mighty case against for being considered. Each has its reason for getting in, I understand, but there is a lot going against them as well. Let’s have a looksie.
1. BCS #15 Northern Illinois Huskies (12-1 MAC Champions): The Huskies have a lot working for them, with the nations second longest winning streak (behind only Notre Dame and Ohio State) and an incredible play-making QB named Jordan Lynch, who in my humble opinion should have been getting on a flight and at least getting the honor of going to New York where Johnny Manziel hoisted a trophy. The problem is they have too much working against them. The MAC is a good conference, but it’s not a world beater. Bowling Green, Kent State, Ohio, Ball State, and Toledo are all quality schools, but it’s still the MAC. There’s your argument. Oh yeah, plus they lost to the SECOND worst team in the B1G (Take that Herbstreit. Have you seen Illinois play?). Essentially the MAC Championship win over Kent State jumped them 6 spots up in one computer poll, so they are eligible. Apparently that is the equivalent of stealing Herbstreit’s cute little OSU babies. Oh wait, they didn’t do that. From the video I figure they did.
2. BCS #12 Florida State Seminoles (11-2 ACC Champions): Florida State proved all season long to not really be the team everyone (I mean EVERYONE) thought they would be. There is a stout defense there, and let’s take nothing away from EJ Manuel, but the Noles just aren’t up to snuff. With only 1 quality win on the season against Clemson at home, and a bad loss to NC State, they had everything to play for 2 weeks ago against Florida. If FSU wanted to be considered for real, they needed to beat Florida. They didn’t. Then struggled with Georgia Tech (Not the first time, with the total margin of victory in the last 4 meetings being only 13 points). I could sit here and name a whole handful of teams that deserve it more than Florida State and really any team in the ACC for that matter. I won’t here. I will in a bit.
3. BCS #21 Louisville Cardinals (11-2 Big East Champions): The Big East is horrible. The MAC is a better conference. I think that’s been proven since the second best team in the MAC beat the second best team in the Big East a few weeks back (Kent State over Rutgers for those with memory loss). Florida State had a patsy schedule outside of 2 games, and Louisville’s was even easier, yet they figured out a way to lose twice. Not only did they lose twice, but the second of those losses came at the hands of a Connecticut team whose season is over with a 5-7 record. Teddy Bridgewater is great, but it’s completely unreasonable to think Louisville is a top 16 team in the land (A BCS requirement unless you win your conference). Keep reading for more Big East hatred.
4. BCS #Unranked Wisconsin Badgers (8-5 B1G Champions***): Wisconsin hung 70 points on Nebraska in what was Bret Bielema’s final game in Madison, solidifying a 3rd consecutive Rose Bowl bid for Bucky. That aside, Wisconsin doesn’t deserve a BCS Bowl Bid. Are you kidding me? Every loss Wisconsin has had in 2012 has been to a good team, with Michigan State being an iffy one, but who has Wisconsin beat that matters? They beat Nebraska in Indy, but other than that, their best win is… ummm.. Utah State? Barry Alvaraz can at least take solace in the fact that Oregon didn’t get in the Rose Bowl, because that could get ugly. At least the Stanford game should be close. We hope.
Teams that SHOULD get in over ALL 4 of the above teams (No specific order)
1. Georgia Bulldogs (Maybe even other BCS teams, cough, Florida, cough.)
2. Texas A&M Aggies
3. South Carolina Gamecocks
4. LSU Tigers
5. Oklahoma Sooners
6. Oregon State Beavers (Over all but FSU)
7. Clemson Tigers (Over all but FSU)
8. Nebraska Cornhuskers (over all but FSU/Wisconsin)
9. UCLA (Over all but FSU)
It’s even more clear in 2012 that the Bowl Championship Series Rankings are flawed. Obvious. Anytime there is a problem with something the source needs to be figured out. In the first 14 seasons of the BCS existence, everyone pointed fingers to the computers. If not the computers, it’s the pollsters (NIU this year). In reality the problems with the BCS are neither. The problem with the BCS, and ultimately the root of all evil is the Automatic Qualifier System and the fact that the Big East gets an automatic bid every season.
When the BCS was founded prior to the 1998-1999 NCAAF season, everything made sense. Each conference had its powerhouses (SEC: Tennessee/Florida/Alabama, B1G: OSU/Michigan, ACC: Florida State/Georgia Tech/Virginia, Big 12: OU/Texas/Nebraska, Big East: Miami/Va Tech, Pac 12: UCLA/USC/Arizone). It all worked out really well, because nobody figured a Boise State or TCU would emerge as a power team because one of the major factors was Strength of Schedule (SOS for you idiots who don’t know anything). The BCS even had a clause (unbeknownst to them) because of Notre Dame and how prolific the Irish had been. There were ways for other teams to get in. Those rules have been tweaked and changed to allow for a more equal opportunity BCS, but the one rule that hasn’t changed a bit is the fact that EVERY Automatic-Qualifying Conference gets a team in regardless of the National Landscape.
This rule has kept a 12-2 #4 Missouri Team out in 2007 for a team they beat in Kansas. This rule kept Boise State out for a season if not more that they deserved to go. The regulation that kept the Michael Crabtree led Texas Tech Red Raiders out in 2008-2009 after beating Texas (BCS team) with the EXACT same record.
Underlying all of the controversy surrounding this little 3 letter acronym can be summed up by exploiting one simple rule. There’s an easy way to do it. Watch.
Below is the Big East’s history in the BCS:
1998-1999 Orange Bowl:
#8 Florida Gators (9-2 At-Large Bid from SEC) 31 defeated
#15 Syracuse Orange (8-3 Big East Champs) 10
Big East BCS Record: 0-1 w/o realignment (0-1 current Big East Teams)
1999-2000 Sugar Bowl (National Championship):
#1 Florida State Seminoles(11-0 ACC Champs) 46 defeated
#2 Virginia Tech Hokies (11-0 Big East Champs) 29
One of the things that the BCS didn’t consider was conference realignment. In this history I will also include the success of the next best team in the Big East in the case of realignment)
Next best Big East team: Miami(FL) now ACC
3rd best Big East team: Boston College now ACC
4th Best Big East team: Syracuse Orange 7-5 (3-4)
Big East BCS Record: 0-2 w/o realignment
2000-2001 Sugar Bowl:
#3 Miami(FL) Hurricanes (10-1 Big East Champs) 37 defeated
#7 Florida Gators (10-2 SEC Champs) 20
Lots of negativity here because technically this period of time for Miami was a dark one, but it’s fairly irrelevant due to the fact that the U isn’t in the Big East anymore.
Next Best Big East team: Virginia Tech (11-1)
3rd Best Big East team: Pittsburgh (7-5 (4-3)
Big East BCS Record: 1-2 w/o realignment (0-0 current Big East Teams)
2001-2002 Rose Bowl (National Championship):
#1 Miami(FL) Hurricanes (11-0 Big East Champs) 37 defeated
#2 Nebraska Cornhuskers (11-1 Big 12 Champs) 14
Next Best Big East team: Syracuse Orange (10-3) (6-1)
Big East BCS Record: 2-2 w/o realignment (0-0 current Big East Teams)
2002-2003 Fiesta Bowl (National Championship):
#2 Ohio State Buckeyes (13-0 Big Ten Champs) 31 defeated
#1 Miami(FL) Hurricanes (12-0 Big East Champs) 24
Next Best Big East team: West Virginia (9-4) (6-1) (For the sake of argument I am going to consider WVU a Big East team due to the expansion to the Big 12 happening less than a full season ago
W/O WVU 3rd Best Big East team: Pittsburgh Panthers (9-4) (5-2)
Big East BCS Record: 2-3 w/o realignment (0-0 current Big East Teams)
2003-2004 Orange Bowl:
#9 Miami(FL) Hurricanes (10-2 Big East Champs) 16 defeated
#7 Florida State Seminoles (10-2 ACC Champs) 14
Next Best Big East Team: West Virginia (8-3) (6-1)
W/O WVU 3rd Best Big East Team: Pittsburgh 8-5 (5-2)
Big East BCS Record (3-3) w/o realignment (0-0 current Big East Teams)
2004-2005 Fiesta Bowl:
#6 Utah (11-0 MWC Champs-Non AQ Conference Auto) 35 defeated
#21 Pittsburgh Panthers (8-3 Big East Champs) 7
Big East BCS Record (3-4) w/o realignment (0-2 current Big East Teams)
2005-2006 Sugar Bowl:
#11 West Virginia (10-1 Big East Champs) 38 defeated
#7 Georgia Bulldogs (10-2 SEC Champs) 35
W/O WVU 2nd Best Big East team: Louisville (9-3) (5-2)
Big East BCS Record (4-4) w/o realignment (1-2 current Big East Teams)
2006-2007 Orange Bowl:
#6 Louisville Cardinals (11-1 Big East Champs) 24 defeated
#14 Wake Forest (11-2 ACC Champs) 13
Big East BCS Record (5-4) w/o realignment (2-2) current Big East Teams)
2007-2008 Fiesta Bowl:
#9 West Virginia Mountaineers (10-2 Big East Champs) 48 defeated
#4 Oklahoma Sooners (11-2 Big 12 Champs) 28
W/O WVU Next Best Big East team: UConn (9-4) (5-2) OR Cincinnati (10-3) (4-3)
Big East BCS Record (6-4) w/o realignment (3-2 current Big East Teams)
<strong2008-2009 Orange Bowl:
#19 Virginia Tech Hokies (9-4 ACC Champs) 20 defeated
#12 Cincinnati Bearcats (11-2 Big East Champs) 7
Big East BCS Record (6-5) w/o realignment (3-3 current Big East Teams)
2009-2010 Sugar Bowl:
#5 Florida Gators (12-1 At-Large Bid) 51 defeated
#3 Cincinnati Bearcats (12-0 Big East Champs) 24
Big East BCS Record (6-6) w/o realignment (3-4 current Big East Teams)
2010-2011 Fiesta Bowl:
#7 Oklahoma Sooners (11-2 Big 12 Champs) 48 defeated
Unranked Connecticut Huskies (8-4 Big East Champs) 20
Big East BCS Record (6-7) w/o realignment (3-5 current Big East Teams)
2011-2012 Orange Bowl:
#23 West Virginia (9-3 Big East Champs) 70 defeated
#15 Clemson Tigers (10-3 ACC Champs) 33
W/O WVU Next Best Big East Team: Cincinnati (10-3) (5-2)
Big East BCS Record (7-7) w/o realignment (4-5 current Big East Teams)
Now that you have the history of the Big East in front of you, lets parse through some of these numbers.
It’s simply astounding that the Big East’s current teams (including WVU) only come in at a 4-5 BCS record.
Take out the Mountaineers and the conference sits at 2-5. In case you were wondering that’s a 40% winning percentage with only 7 appearances in a total of what would be 28 chances (2 per season, 14 seasons). Add in the teams that aren’t even in the conference anymore (Miami/Va Tech) it’s still only 14 appearances, with not a single season having 2 teams in the BCS.
The ACC, which is also in the middle of the conference realignment (major players from Big East),is even worse off than the Big East without Miami and Virginia Tech, coming in at 5 of 14 Bowl appearances with those teams and a 1-8 record without those 2 schools. That is large in part to Florida State being absolutely awful when getting into the BCS (1-5).
Combined the Big East/ACC are 9 of 19 in BCS Bowl games. Let’s stack that up against the other Automatic Qualifiers.
The Big Ten: 15-12 (.56%)
The Big 12: 10-7 (.59%)
The SEC: 16-8 (67%)
The Pac 12: 12-8 (60%)
If you aren’t very good with numbers, it’s quite simple. The ACC/Big East “automatic” qualifier status is holding the BCS back from being a fairly representative system. Now, in no way shape or form am I arguing that it is pitting the 2 best teams against each other in the National Championship, but I think it’s important not to overlook the real flaws in the system beyond just the surface.
In nearly every year that the BCS has existed there was a team(s) that could have represented college football as a league better in the BCS in place of either the Big East team/ACC team or both.
The fact that Kirk Herbstreit, who was one of those Mothership Pundits who did happen to have Florida State in the National Championship preseason, went off on NIU the way he did is perplexing to me. The analysts for College Football are notorious for discussing things in great detail on moment and then totally changing the argument the next. Politicians are bad, but the analysts are right there. Just last season (2011-2012) is the perfect example.
Alabama played LSU in the title game because Stanford lost to Oregon and Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State, both losses coming later in the season than Alabama’s. All of the analysts (Herbstreit included) said that the reason Bama got the nod was because of the timing of the loss and the way the ranking system worked. They were also all fine with it, because what’s better than an SEC/SEC title game? Nothing.
Well, here you go guys. NIU has the longest current winning streak in the country outside of Notre Dame. Early loss. Hypocritical. It’s a minor detail, but there is always something.
The BCS may be a broken system, but does anyone ever really break down the reason? Does anyone ever get over their own bitching about how things work out and actually sit down to realize it’s much simpler than it seems?
The automatic qualifier is the worst rule in college sports, and I can’t say that we should be surprised that a rule that is set to appeal to everyone and be “fair” to all parties is in place. Just look at the high school football playoffs in Iowa. A team with 3 wins can make the playoffs. 3 wins. It’s sports. There’s winners and losers.
Why can’t we all just realize that life isn’t fair and sometimes certain people need to taught that. I’m looking at you Big East/ACC.