BCS Ruins Bowl Season

The Bowl Championship Series was supposed to make selecting the NCAA Division I-A football champion easier and leave no doubts as to which team is number one. From its inception, this panacea has not always worked according to plan.

In 1998, Florida State was a controversial choice to face Tennessee. Ohio State and Kansas State were better teams. Ohio State was the best team in the land, and they probably were two touchdowns better than Florida State. Kansas State dominated opponents and lost only in the Big 12 Championship Game. It was an injustice to drop them all the way to the Alamo Bowl, where they didn't show up to play and lost to Purdue.

In 1999, two teams finished the season 11-0, but Nebraska may have been better than both Virginia Tech and Florida State. Oddsmakers revealed has a line been needed for a Cornhusker match against either the Seminoles or the Hokies, Nebraska would have been favored against both teams.

In 2000, Oklahoma was the lone undefeated team, and once again Florida State was the choice by the BCS system. Miami beat the Seminoles and finished with an identical 10-1 record. Washington beat Miami and also finished 10-1. After this season, the BCS changed its so that the new formula would have placed Miami in the Championship Game. Washington fans didn't agree that year.

In 2001, Miami was the class of the nation, while Nebraska was picked to face the Hurricanes in the Rose Bowl. The Cornhuskers did not even win their Division of the Big 12 after losing the regular season finale 62-36 to Colorado. Oregon was clearly the best team to face Miami, but they were forced to play Colorado instead in the Fiesta Bowl (they whipped the Buffalos).

In 2002, Ohio State and Miami made life easy for the BCS. By the end of the year, Southern California may have been better than those two, but the Trojans lost two games early in the season.

In 2003, Southern California was the best team in the nation. Oklahoma and LSU were the two representatives in the Sugar Bowl for the BCS version of the national title. USC showed everybody who the best team was. The Associated Press voters realized this and chose USC over the winner of the BCS #1 vs. #2 Bowl.

In 2004, Southern California and Oklahoma played for the title, but Auburn and Utah also finished undefeated (as well as Boise State). Auburn never had a chance to prove if they could play with the two BCS finalists.

Last year, Texas and Southern Cal made it easy for the BCS once again by dominating teams all season. No other team compared with these two behemoths. The Rose Bowl didn't really decide anything, other than show the nation that these teams would have split 10 games five to five.

Now, the BCS presents us with the case of Florida jumping over Michigan to face Ohio State. The Wolverines lost by three points at Ohio State. Ohio Stadium is worth at least five to six points at the minimum in home field advantage, in essence proving that Michigan is a couple of points better than the Buckeyes on a neutral field.

Florida and Michigan both faced Vanderbilt this season. Michigan controlled their game with the Commodores, while Florida escaped with a win. The Wolverines dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage in the season opening 27-7 win at the Big House. Vanderbilt's offensive and defensive line was a tad better than Florida's when they faced off in Nashville a month ago. Florida won 25-19, but Vanderbilt won the stat sheet. You might say the Commodores were a better team in November than they were in September, but you could also point to the fact that Vanderbilt's offensive line and defensive backfield was decimated with injuries by November, while they were almost full strength against Michigan.

Louisville at 11-1 lost only to Rutgers in a nationally televised Thursday night game in New Jersey. Who's to say the Cardinals wouldn't beat both Florida and Michigan? Why does the NCAA allow a bunch of poll voters and a small group of math students determine the national champion? How many Southern poll voters lower Michigan to fourth or fifth place with the express purpose of giving Florida a better chance to pass the Wolverines?

Seven times in the now nine years of the existence of the BCS, a deserving team has not been allowed to play for the NCAA Championship. Is this progress? Of course not! It is the ruination of the sport.

The argument in favor of the BCS is that a playoff just isn't feasible at this level. The two finalists in an eight-team playoff might have to play 16 games. Fans would have to travel all over the country for three or four consecutive weeks. One week is not enough to book rooms and flights for the teams and their fans.

While I once favored a college playoff, I no longer support this idea. However, I oppose the BCS system even more than the playoff. How about trying something novel and going back to the old system?

Let the many different media outlets choose their champ the same way all the champs prior to 1998 were chosen—by the vote.

Prior to 1998, and depending on the year, up to seven different media concerns chose a recognized National Champion. Some years, the champion was a consensus choice. Army was clearly the best in 1944 and 1945. Nebraska may have been the best ever in 1971.

Some years, two teams split the multiple national title honors. In 1947, Michigan and Notre Dame both dominated the rest of the nation and both split the different national title awards.

In other years, three or more different teams received national title accolades. In 1973, Notre Dame, Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State all finished without a loss in the regular season. Alabama lost the Sugar Bowl to Notre Dame due to a missed extra point. Except for Michigan, the other five teams all received some form of National Championship award.

What was wrong with that? Many fans and coaches celebrated their version of the national championship. None of these teams' titles were diminished because other teams also won honors. Just go to these schools' websites, and you will find they happily stake claim to all those split national titles.

Let's consider how the old way would help the bowls as well. Now, only the BCS National Championship Game has any effect on who finishes number one (except in a rare case like 2003). That means that the other four big bowls no longer matter insofar as choosing the national champion. Now that a fifth game has been added by playing another game a week later on one of the big bowl sites, all four big bowls will have no bearing whatsoever on the national title. Why spend New Year's Day (and the next couple of days afterward) bothering with these bowls if they are becoming meaningless to all but the fans of the participating schools? If you live on the West Coast, will you be watching the Wake Forest and Louisville Orange Bowl game? If you live in New England, will the Oklahoma and Boise State Fiesta Bowl game be worth watching? Many people will choose to do something else, since these games will not affect the national title. I'm sure they might be nice games, but why tune it in when in one week, you can watch 12-0 Ohio State play 12-1 Florida in the only game that will affect the national title? All the other bowls are now superfluous.

Let's recreate a bowl scenario from yesteryear. Poof! With one wave of the magic wand, the BCS has never existed. The old bowl system is back. Number one Ohio State is now headed to the Rose Bowl to play Southern California. Southeastern Conference champion Florida will face Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. Big 12 champ Oklahoma is headed to Miami to face Louisville in the Orange Bowl. ACC champ Wake Forest will face Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. Notre Dame is headed to the Cotton Bowl to face L S U.

Here's how January 1 would look: The Sugar Bowl would kick off the morning on one network, while 30 minutes later, the Cotton and Fiesta Bowls would kickoff. In the afternoon, the Rose Bowl would start, followed by the Orange Bowl in the evening. All four of the big bowls could wind up becoming the national title decider, and best of all nobody might know it until the last bowl ended? The Florida-Michigan Sugar Bowl winner would become the "leader in the clubhouse." Boise State, if they blew Wake Forest off the field in the Fiesta Bowl, might stake their claim to one of the multiple national championship polls. Ohio State would then be forced to win the Rose Bowl. If USC emerged victorious in Pasadena, then all you-know-what would break loose. The Orange Bowl would give Louisville a chance to prove to the voters of all the polls that they deserve one of their big banners. A big win over Oklahoma could vault them into the top spot in at least one poll.

A day later, Ohio State, Louisville, Boise State, and the Michigan/Florida winner could all claim a national championship. And, four different bowls will have benefited from this fact that their games were meaningful in the contribution.

I can remember this type of scenario playing out for real more years than not growing up in the 1960's and 1970's. Let's look at New Year's Day 1971. The Sugar Bowl had Tennessee and Air Force. The Vols pummeled the Falcons on ABC to finish 11-1. They looked good enough to be number one if other games went certain ways.

Meanwhile, over on CBS and just 15 minutes later than the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl featured defending national champ and still undefeated and number one Texas hosting Joe Theisman and Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. The Irish unveiled a "backbone" defense to stop the Longhorns' heretofore unstoppable wishbone offense and pulled off a huge upset to finish 11-1.

Now, all eyes turned to the Rose Bowl. All Woody Hayes' 9-0 Ohio State Buckeyes had to do was defeat the surprising 7-3 Stanford Indians (yes, that's what they were called then) and gunslinger, Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett. The Buckeyes, featuring Rex Kern, John Brockington, and Jim Otis would run all over Stanford and give the Scarlet and Gray their second national title in three years. Something happened to upset that Buckeye apple cart. They couldn't stop Plunkett, and Stanford pulled off the big surprise. Now, all of a sudden, the top two teams had tasted defeat in the new year.

Before the Orange Bowl kicked off, I heard one commentator bring up the fact that Arizona State had finished 11-0 including a blowout win over North Carolina in the Peach Bowl. Additionally, Toledo had just finished 12-0 and slaughtered 11 of those opponents to finish undefeated for the second year in a row. Dartmouth had just dominated the Ivy League like no other team in league history, finishing 9-0 and shutting out six of their opponents, including the last four. This commentator was lobbying for these three teams to be given consideration should the last remaining unbeaten team lose in the Orange Bowl.

In that Orange Bowl 10-0-1 Nebraska played 9-2 LSU. In a defensive standoff, the Cornhuskers eventually emerged after trailing for most of the night to squeak by the Tigers 17-12. After a long day of exciting games, the nation now knew who would be number one. For what it's worth, Arizona State, Toledo, and Dartmouth all ended up in somebody's Top 10. Nebraska won the title, while Tennessee and Notre Dame split the number two slots in the other polls. From 11:30 AM CST until 10:30 PM, New Year's Day was filled with 11 hours of can't miss football. All the bowls mattered.

If you can imagine how fun that was, think about the years where there was no clear-cut champion. All those years with two, three, and four different crowned champions just stirred up more fans in a football frenzy. It kept the season going throughout the winter. Just imagine that argument today! The all-sports radio stations, ESPN, and the Internet would glow red hot.

Major League Baseball has already ruined their sport by tinkering with their historical tradition. We now have teams finishing four games over .500 winning the World Series, playing opponents they faced in the regular season. The nation rushes away from their televisions not to watch every October. The NCAA needs to take note of this and stop their slide down this same slippery slope. The nation will find better things to do instead of watching 31 meaningless bowl games. The second week of January is not college football season, and even the BCS title game will pale in comparison to the old New Year's Day Bowl extravaganza.

PiRate Computer Crowns Its National Champion

The PiRate Computer Ratings are similar to the old Associated Press and United Press International Polls. The PiRates believe in crowning the national champion at the close of the regular season. Those bucs believe a seven week plus layoff between games is a farce, and that any 50-plus day bowl outcome should be null and void. Therefore, The PiRates are proud to award their booty to The Ohio State University Buckeyes. The other teams can walk the plank.

Here are the final PiRate Ratings:

# Team Won Loss Rating
1 Ohio State 12 0 128.2
2 Michigan 11 1 124.4
3 Southern Cal 10 2 122.1
4 Louisville 11 1 120.2
5 Oklahoma 11 2 120.0
6 Boise St. 12 0 117.9
7 Brigham Young 10 2 117.8
8 Florida 12 1 117.3
9 L S U 10 2 116.3
10 Va. Tech 10 2 116.2
11 T C U 10 2 116.0
12 Wisconsin 11 1 114.9
13 U C L A 7 5 114.7
14 Notre Dame 10 2 114.6
14 Texas 9 3 114.6
16 South Carolina 7 5 114.5
17 Texas A&M 9 3 113.8
18 California 9 3 113.6
19 Hawaii 10 3 113.5
20 West Virginia 10 2 113.2
21 Oregon State 9 4 113.0
22 Arkansas 10 3 112.8
23 Nebraska 9 4 112.7
24 Tennessee 9 3 111.9
25 Texas Tech 7 5 111.8
26 Arizona State 7 5 111.6
27 Rutgers 10 2 111.3
28 Penn State 8 4 111.1
29 Oregon 8 4 110.9
30 Wake Forest 11 2 110.4
31 Auburn 10 2 110.3
32 Oklahoma State 6 6 110.1
33 Boston College 9 3 108.8
34 Missouri 8 4 108.7
34 Clemson 8 4 108.7
36 Georgia Tech 9 4 108.6
37 South Florida 7 5 108.1
38 Cincinnati 7 5 108.0
39 Minnesota 6 6 107.8
40 Arizona 6 6 107.7
41 Purdue 8 5 107.2
42 Georgia 8 4 107.0
43 Nevada 8 4 106.8
44 Houston 10 3 105.2
45 Iowa 6 6 105.0
46 Miami (Fl) 6 6 104.9
47 Kansas State 7 5 104.2
48 Navy 9 3 104.2
49 Utah 7 5 104.0
50 Southern Miss. 8 5 103.7
51 Central Mich. 9 4 103.1
52 Tulsa 8 4 102.9
53 Washington St. 6 6 102.7
54 Kansas 6 6 102.6
55 Florida State 6 6 102.5
55 Alabama 6 6 102.5
57 East Carolina 7 5 102.3
58 Washington 5 7 101.7
59 Kentucky 7 5 101.2
60 Northwestern 4 8 101.0
61 Maryland 8 4 100.4
62 New Mexico 6 6 100.2
63 Pittsburgh 6 6 100.1
64 Colorado 2 10 99.6
65 Virginia 5 7 99.3
66 Ball State 5 7 99.1
67 Michigan St. 4 8 99.0
68 Ole Miss 4 8 98.7
69 Northern Ill. 7 5 98.3
70 Miss. State 3 9 98.1
70Illinois 2 10 98.1
72 Rice 7 5 97.0
72Western Mich. 8 4 97.0
74 S M U 6 6 96.9
75 N. Car. State 3 9 96.7
76 Vanderbilt 4 8 96.3
77 Connecticut 4 8 96.0
78 San Jose State 8 4 95.4
78 Wyoming 6 6 95.4
80 North Carolina 3 9 94.8
81 Ohio U 9 4 94.3
82 Indiana 5 7 94.1
83 Air Force 4 8 93.9
84 Marshall 5 7 93.7
85 M T S U 7 5 92.4
86 La. Monroe 4 8 91.8
87 Iowa State 4 8 91.6
87 Syracuse 4 8 91.6
89 Toledo 5 7 91.5
90 Baylor 4 8 91.4
91 Fresno State 4 8 91.2
92 Memphis 2 10 90.8
93 New Mex. St. 4 8 89.2
94 Stanford 1 11 89.0
95 Kent State 6 6 88.3
96 Central Fla. 4 8 88.1
97 Akron 5 7 86.8
98 Colorado St. 4 8 86.7
99 Troy 7 5 86.4
100 U T E P 5 7 86.2
101 U N L V 2 10 86.0
101 U A B 3 9 86.0
101 Miami (O) 2 10 86.0
104 San Diego St. 3 9 84.9
105 Duke 0 12 84.1
106 Army 3 9 83.2
107 Fla. Atlantic 5 7 83.0
107 Bowling Green 4 8 82.9
109 La-Lafayette 6 6 82.1
109 Arkansas St. 6 6 82.1
111 Eastern Mich. 1 11 79.7
112 Tulane 4 8 79.2
113 North Texas 3 9 77.4
114 Idaho 4 8 76.1
115 Buffalo 2 10 75.0
116 La. Tech 3 10 73.8
117 Temple 1 11 73.7
118 Utah State 1 11 69.6
119 Fla. Int'l 0 12 68.1

The PiRates will release a Bowl Edition for amusement purposes only. They have agreed to allow their new friend the P6TR participate as well. Look for the PiRate Bowl picks in multiple parts later this month.

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