Changes In BCS: What's In It For Texas?

The BCS officials are at it again: tweaking the bowl-selection formula while doing everything to ensure that Division-I college football remains the only sport without a playoff. So, what will proposed changes mean for Texas?

Conference commissioners convened in Chicago this week to put into place a plan for the 2006 season intended to mitigate much of the controversy surrounding recent national championship games. The proposal this week would have done nothing to have helped Texas' chances last season of landing its first BCS Bowl of the Mack Brown era, but it sure would have altered Oklahoma's travel plans.

Reports are that future BCS rankings will rely more on the human polls (Associated Press, ESPN/USA Today) than the cumulative scoring of seven computers. You will recall that last season USC and LSU were the two highest ranking schools in the human polls but (thanks to the rise of the machines) OU garnered enough computer points to qualify for the national title game despite being thumped by Kansas State in December and failing to win its own conference.

From now on, we can expect to see the human polls determining the national championship qualifiers. If the human polls agree on the top two teams, then those two will play for all the marbles. If there is not concurrence, then the computer polls would essentially function as the tiebreaker.

If this scenario was in place in 2003, LSU and USC would have met in the Sugar Bowl, Kansas State would still be in the Fiesta Bowl (given last year's Big 12 tie-in) and OU probably would have ended up the Orange Bowl.

And you, my friend, would still be headed to San Diego (that is, if you cared enough to make the trip).

Suffice it to say, nothing BCS officials can do will enhance Texas' chances for a BCS more than the Horns actually whipping the Sooners in October.

We've all been down this road long enough to know that losing the Red River Shootout puts Texas in a position where it must win out while OU must either lose two regular season games (putting the Horns in the league title game) or run the table including the Big 12 championship game (putting the Sooners in the national title game and UT in a position for an at-large BCS berth over the league's North Division champ).

The one BCS stipulation that does more to keep Texas out of a BCS game (regardless of UT's ratings) is the prohibition against a third team from the same conference receiving an at-large bid. No conference can send more than two teams to a BCS bowl. That rule isn't going to change any time soon. Here's why: cha-ching!

Conference commissioners know that should one conference land three BCS teams, it will mean that some conferences will only get one team in the lucrative post-season venue. We are talking about a rule that all but guarantees a multi-million dollar annual deposit in the conference coffers.

Okay, commissioners: all in favor of sharing that kind of wealth so otherwise worthy teams like Texas can get in, say 'Aye'. (Insert sound of crickets chirping.)

It is also expected that the BCS will eliminate 'strength of schedule' and 'margin of victory' from its formula.

Still, for love of the game, here are some things that need to happen within the BCS system:


Either make a conference title game mandatory for every BCS-affiliated conference or eliminate the game altogether. There are still no conference title games in either the Big 10 or the PAC 10. How different the post-season landscape might look if the likes of USC, Ohio State or Michigan were involved in a title game. It needs to be consistent across the board. No Big 12 coach wants the Big 12 title game, especially Brown. ("The conference title game has cost me four BCS bowls," Brown said the week after Kansas State stunned OU in December. His streak of bad luck includes Texas shocking Nebraska in the 1996.)


If you don't win your conference, you don't earn the right to advance to the national championship game as did OU (2004) and Nebraska (2002). The conference title games are the closet thing we have to a playoff. If you lose your conference title game, you're done (as far as the BCS national championship game is concerned).


About the only positive aspect of eliminating SOS from the BCS formula is that a team will no longer be penalized should it defeat in its conference title game a team that it already beat in the regular season. (Case in point: had Texas beat Colorado in the 2001 Big 12 game, the Horns still might not have qualified for the national championship since another Buffalo loss would have diminished Texas' SOS and quality win points). Other than that, SOS was the best thing the BCS had going for it. Without SOS as a criteria, there is little incentive for big-time schools to schedule competitive non-conference matchups. Without it, the TCUs of the world will bitch and moan about access to BCS dollars while playing a schedule with teams the caliber SMU, Navy and Army. Without it, schools will be more inclined to follow Texas A&M's lead by dropping Florida State from its future slate and adding the likes of Texas State and The Citadel. Oh, well. Bring on Rice!


Most coaches want a playoff but virtually no university president will publicly endorse one, Brown said a few months ago. Presidents are supposedly concerned that a playoff would make college football more about the money than it already is. Thing is, presidents don't seem as concerned that athletes are now playing regular season college football on Thursdays and Fridays (and occasionally Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays) for the television exposure. Again: Cha-ching!

Meanwhile, the concern that a playoff would make the season too long doesn't fly. With the conference championship game and the occasional additional game in the regular season, the college kids are already playing up to 14 games each year. A season that included a playoff could be accomplished within a span of 14 contests if teams played no more than two non-conference games while maintaining the typical schedule of eight conference matchups.

Right now there are four BCS bowls. Use those as the venues for an eight-team playoff. Or something like that. Even a 16-team playoff would not significantly extend the season. What would happen, however, is that March Madness would pale in comparison to December Madness.

School presidents and conference commissioners also express a concern that a playoff would somehow compromise the integrity of the regular season. This excuse would hold some merit if there was a similar concern for the integrity of the regular season in college basketball and college baseball. Call me cynical but I am convinced there is less concern for both the student athlete and the regular season than there is in preserving the current bowl system and the bucks that go with it.

We aren't talking rocket science, folks. And we aren't re-inventing wheel. D-II and D-III have found a way to make this work for years.

Bottom line: until there is a playoff, the B.S. will remain in the BCS.

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