You Owe Us a Playoff: An Open Letter to the BCS

by 9 years ago

One fact about your system that always irks me is that unlike every other NCAA sport, not all 120 teams have a chance at competing in your system's title game. The way your system is set up, a team has no real chance to play in a mid-major conference and win a championship. In NCAA basketball even small schools like Wagner, Towson, and Niagara get to compete in a conference that's winner is granted an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Is it unlikely that one of these teams — likely seeded #14, #15, or #16 seed — would cut down the nets as champions? Absolutely it is. But let me remind you, it was also unlikely for Butler to make the last two NCAA championship games, Villanova to shock Georgetown in 1985, #11-seeded George Mason to make the Final Four in 2006, and NC State to silence critics who said “Trees will tapdance, elephants will drive in the Indianapolis 500, and Orson Wells will skip lunch before North Carolina State finds a way to beat Houston” in 1983. Now you may argue that I have given you a sample of the most unlikely results in history, and I cannot deny that. But what you seem to forget, Mr. Hancock, is that “unlikely” is what defines sports.  By eliminating the unlikely results of a BCS playoff, you are eliminating the essence of sports. Unlikely is why we watch hours of SportsCenter, unlikely is the reason people don't win bets on a “favorite,” unlikely is what makes us smile, unlikely is what makes us cry, and, most importantly, unlikely is what makes us fans.

The MLB, NBA, and NHL have 30 teams.The NFL has 32. All have multiple rounds of playoffs involving 12 to 16 teams to decide their champions. D-I basketball has 345 teams and a tournament involving 68 teams. D-I football has 120 teams yet the BCS uses a computer system (that's full information is not released to the public) and selects the top two to play in the title game. In all of the four major sports, teams must win their division to secure a playoff berth. In NCAA basketball, automatic bids are given to conference champions. Your system had a team play in this year's title game who won neither their conference nor the division within their conference. A similar situation occurred in the 2002 title game when Nebraska was selected to play despite not playing in the Big 12 Title game after losing 62-36 to Colorado. It's amazing to me that teams are shuffling conferences every day when your system has clearly shown that winning it holds no real weight when it comes to being selected to the BCS game. As you've shown the information that you're computer spits out is what dictates who gets to play, not the hundreds of games in the three months prior.

Let's assume you are actually dumb enough to believe after 10+ years of controversies and outcry that your system still is the best fit. By that reasoning, each of those championship games should have been relatively close. According to your computer ratings (which again, the public does not have full access to) it's the two best teams, which should make for a close game… right?

1999: Tennessee 23, FSU 16

2000: Florida State 46, Virginia Tech 29

2001: Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2

2002: Miami 37, Nebraska 14

2003: Ohio State 31, Miami 24

2004: LSU 21, Oklahoma 14

2005: USC 55, Oklahoma 19

2006: Texas 41, USC 38

2007: Florida 41, Ohio State 14

2008: LSU 38, Ohio State 24

2009: Florida 24, Oklahoma 14

2010: Alabama 37, Texas 21

2011: Auburn 22, Oregon 19

2012: Alabama 21, LSU 0

So much for close games. Just five of the 14 were decided by by a touchdown or less and four of the 14 were decided by 21 or more. Since 1999, the Division I NCAA basketball championship game has been decided by less then 3 points in three of the 13 games, less than 10 points in eight of the 13 games. Eleven of the 13 have been decided by 13 or less.

Get where I'm going with this? Playoff systems may not always produce Computer Rated #1 vs. Computed Rated #2, and they almost certainly would provide us a better game. You should know: you did work as Director of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship for 13 years.

Let's face it. You owe it to the schools, fans, and mostly the sake of sports to give up this facade that the BCS is working. It's not. Time to change your ways. My ideal dream is a six-team playoff, but even a four-team playoff would be acceptable. Regardless of what change is made, the important thing is that one is made. Sadly, I don't think you're even remotely open to changing your ways. There's too much money in it for you and the schools and ESPN seems to prefer this model as part of its overall “business plan” for college sports and its cash-flushed sponsors. I think you are so thick-headed that you would rather live by the “no press is bad press” motto, then actually provide a sport with such a rich history the first real chance at declaring an undisputed champion. You're in the biggest chair in sports, yet you don't have the nuts to fill it out. I don't know how you can live like that, I sure as hell couldn't.

Even as a diehard fan, I'm done with college football. If you need me, I'll be watching the Broncos try to reach the AFC Championship game. While it may disgust you that an 8-8 team could be in a conference championship game, I find it “unlikely” …. and I love that about sports.

TAGSBCS National Championshiprant