Sunday, December 7, 2008

BCS Got It Right ... Right What?

It's the dumbest question in sports. Yet, the moment the final BCS standings were published, it would be the first question tossed to the commentators, coaches, fans on the web, space aliens in captivity, whomever with a pause.

The proper answer to that question is another question: What do you mean by right?

If by "right" you mean the BCS averted yet another PR disaster, then you may say yes. If by "right" you mean the BCS avoided a potentially embarrassing intra-conference rematch, then, yes again. But if by "right" you mean the BCS got the "correct" matchup in the still-mythical championship game, then you're out of your mind.

There is no such thing as a "right" matchup. Just as last year, just as in 2006, just as in 2004, just as in nearly every year of BCS's existence, the BCS merely facilitated an expedient outcome that semi-placated the mostly ignorant commentariat and some half-witted fans.

That was never more evident since last night, when pundits and columnists opined that the results of the SEC and Big 12 championships guaranteed a Oklahoma-Florida title matchup. Far from it. Without understanding the fine prints of the formula, one could not possibly make such pronouncements. In fact, the Guru crunched numbers all evening and really agonized over it before making the call.

Should've just followed the lead of the idiots. They slept better anyway.

If I sound somewhat bitter, it's because I am. A man who just pulled off a perfect 15-for-15 in the BCS projections should be rejoicing, not recriminating. But the fact is that while I can intelligently and half-heartedly defend the system, I will no longer choose to do so.

The BCS dodged a major bullet, but the powers-that-be are too stupid to realize it. They'll merrily show up at their April meeting puffing out their considerable chests and making grand proclamations. And do absolutely not a damn thing to fix a system that's beyond broken.

In the BCS, disaster is always just around the corner. Justice is seldom, if ever, served. The truth is that college football today really isn't all that different from the era of grand alliances. Yes, the BCS does put together some matchups that wouldn't have been allowed under the old tie-ins. But the bottom line is that just as in 1990, 1991, 1997 or almost every other year or so, the concept of a "national champion" remains as ever elusive and mythical.

That brings us the real question: Do we really want a system that produces a "true" national champion? Before you jump to answer in the affirmative, think about this for a moment. For all its flaws, the bowl system has its advantages. To be sure, it keeps more in spirit with the Christmas season than a cut-throat, one-and-done "playoff" concept.

But if we must crown a real champion (I suppose that's the American way), then there needs to be a plan. I will not be a critic who simply decries what's broken but offers no solution. In fact, the Guru does have a concept, tested against historic data and workable within the logistic challenges, that will prove to be superior to the current scheme we have.

I won't spoil the party tonight. It will be unveiled soon enough.

In the meantime, I do want to say a heart-felt thanks to all the readers who have frequented this site this season. It's been an exhilarating ride. Whether you agreed or disagreed with me, thought I was a genius or a moron, all that's immaterial. I'm just glad that I could be a part of your college football universe for the last few months.

Going forward, I won't completely vanish in the offseason. So if you're interested, join the Guru on Facebook or subscribe to the junk here via our feed. Whatever you do: Thank You and Happy Holidays!


Richard said...

I like the pre BCS system better. Give the leading conferences 1 guaranteed bid in the major bowls and fill in the rest by invitation. Multiple bowls have national champonship impact and are less anticlimactic than current system.

Let a variety of polls pick a winner and maybe we get a split championship every 5 or 10 years.

We all want the closure that comes with an unequivocal winner. But you know what....screw us. Fans are way more passionate about college football than almost any other sport perhaps because we don't have an unequivocal winner. What would we taunt each other about then?

Yep...the good old days of the UPI poll and football blue bloods (bama, USC, ND, OU, Nebraska,Texas).

Interesting my freshman year of 1979, the Gators were 0-10-1. That's zero wins!

Thanks for an interesting couple of weeks Guru. I'm sure the mayhem will return full throttle next year.

Andrew said...

Thanks for doing this all year! It's nice to see someone actually understand the system and explain it to those of us too lazy to bother with it ourselves. Keep up the good work!

Jams said...

I'm a big fan, thanks for consistently giving the most insightful analysis of the BCS I've read all season.

Jams said...

Also, I can't wait to read your postseason idea.

Anonymous said...

Computers sucks... how can USC be ranked # 3 in one computer and # 10in another...its how they are programed... if the computers had any validity at all they would all have the same rankings...the whole system sucks

Ute Fan said...

Thanks for all the hard work. I really do appreciate it.

I'm also interested in what you have to say to fix the system.

And lastly....Can you tell me where to find the public Harris votes. I'm interested to find out who the one soul was that was courageous enough to vote Utah #1.

ute fan said...

Okay, Never mind. I found it. Larry Keech, retired sports writer. Brave Guy...he put Utah & Boise state 1 & 2. I'm sure he'll take some flack, but I have to say I agree. I guess the Utah-Alabama and Boise State-TCU games will give us some idea.

The Guru said...

Right, Larry Keech is your guy. And he's had a history of ranking non-BCS teams high.

Here's the link to how the Harris voters did:

Ben Jarashow said...

One of the best pieces the Guru has written..... Ever. I've been reading the blog for several years, and agree wholeheartedly with this post. It codifies many things the Guru has been saying for some time.
Great work as always!

Anonymous said...

Me and my buddy were discussing for the 25th year in a row how great a playoff would be.

Remember that great '91 season, I think it was that year, when UW and UM were undefeated. WOW! Would have been great to see them play.

Anyhoo, when discussing this, my buddy mentioned that, God-willing, someday when playoffs are implemented, when we are in our
90s, we will look back with bitter contempt, and say...

"What took the powers that be so long to come up with this? Why did it take so long to ever get the playoffs started in D1?"

Bottom line...

A D1 playoff is one of those things thats time has come.


16-team tournament.

11 conf. champs. None get left out. 5 at-large. Gives ND a shot, when they deserve it and some teams that finish second another life. That is okay with me. Teams win B(c)S titles now with 1 and even 2 losses (LSWho).

16 teams means 4 games. If we cut the reg. season down to 11 games
(9 in conf., 2 OOC, it means, at most, teams will play 15 or 16 games, dep. on if your conf. plays a champ. game.

Come on guys, let's get'er done.

This arguing every year is getting very old.

I want this settled on the field of play.

The only thing I see is that 2 teams from the same conf. may play 3 times. You know what, teams play twice now. So what! How many times would this even happen?

As for not making as much as the bowls pay out. Poppycock. This sucker would be worth at least a quarter bil every year. What do bowls payout? About 150 mil a year. Whoppee!




Anonymous said...

Thanks Guru for a great year.

I see that you're going to unveil your preferred method on how to improve (or get rid of) the BCS very soon. In the meantime, I would like to get my suggestion out there for all to see (or ridicule).

The main issue that needs to be addressed in any new format is to appease the very powerful men who currently control things -- heck, they don't even see the need to change the current system at all. Because of this, I seriously doubt that we'll ever see a true playoff whereby the bowls are eliminated. Heck, we'll never see a system where the value of the bowl games are even slightly diminished. This is why I feel my system will work. Here it is;

1) The NC game would be played after the conclusion of the bowl season (about one week later).
2) We would still have the 4 BCS bowls (plus the NC game) with a 5th one added (Cotton maybe -- doesn't really matter to me).
3) The team selections of the 4 original bowls will be basically the same as it is done now.
4) The 5th bowl would take to 2 highest ranked teams not selected above -- REGARDLESS of their conference affiliations. If this system was in place this year, Texas Tech would be going and not Ohio St.
5) After the bowls are played a final BCS standings is computed and the 2 highest ranked teams that did not LOSE their bowl game moves onto the NC game. There will still be no requirement that a team wins it's conference title. Also, it's still a possibility that two teams from the same conference can square off against each other.

Now here's some caveats for selecting the match ups in the BCS bowls;

1) #1 and #2 CANNOT meet each other (even if it's the Rose Bowl).
2) Bowl tie-ins will continue as they are now.
3) If any of the at-large teams face the #1 & #2 teams, the lowest ranked of the at large teams will face the #1 team. The 2 at-large teams that are selected for the 5th BCS bowl game is exempted from this. In other words, these 2 teams can only face each other in the 5th BCS game.

So, if we can go back in time and start the year off with this system, here is how the teams would have been paired up in the BCS bowls;

Fiesta: #1 Oklahoma vs #6 Utah
Rose: #5 USC vs Penn St #8
Sugar: #2 Florida vs #3 Texas
Orange: #12 vs #19 Va Tech
5th BCS: #4 Alabama vs #7 Texas Tech

In my estimation, about 6 different teams would have a shot at the championship depending on the outcomes and other variables (style points?). Those teams are Oklahoma and Florida of course, but also Texas, USC, Alabama & Utah (if you beat the #1 team in the nation, there's a good chance they would leap-frog some teams).

Of course, there would still be complaints about ZYX not making it or it's still not a true playoff. For example, this still doesn't include potentially worthy teams like Boise St and Ohio St. This system also eliminates the preferential treatment extended to Notre Dame. But there are reasons behind the madness. This would force Notre Dame to join a conference. Now is probably a good time to force the issue with them. Next, (and this is a big reason why I would not want to shorten the regular season in order to fit in a 16 team playoff format) and that's so teams like Boise State would feel the need to schedule stronger teams for their OOC games. When they already play in a weaker conference, playing a week OOC schedule doesn't help their cause.

And you may say that BCS conference teams don't want to play teams like Boise St. But don't you think the difference between Texas making it to their conference championship game was a weaker OOC when compared to Oklahoma? AD's will need to address their team's strength of schedule in the coming years.

So, while the critics will still say that anything short of a true playoff will not satisfy them, this will give many more teams a crack at the NC game. If the #1 & #2 teams are truly the best teams in the nation, my system only postpones the inevitable by 1 week and puts even more bucks in everyone's pockets -- and it only extends the season by 1 game for 2 teams. Oh and the big bonus is that the regular season will remain as important as it is now (as well, if not more, for the bowls). Teams will still need to win their conferences and will still want to be as highly ranked as possible going into the bowls.

Oh, one more bonus, any existing TV contract probably would not need to be reworked, the networks will still get the same amount of bowl games and the big conferences will be able to get more bucks for the rights to the 5th game. I'm not informed enough to know which bowl game would get to be the 5th, though. But my best guess would be the Cotton bowl since they are moving to the new stadium in the Big D (I think).

Sound good? Any better ideas?


Anonymous said...

Any idea when we'll hear your amended BCS plan? Tough to stay focused on the sites that don't post consistently..... even in the offseason. Enjoy your insight, and much appreciate all you provide...... but i don't visit the facebook or myspace stuff.

The Guru said...

I promise I'll have my "Fix the BCS" piece next week. In the meantime, there are a couple of great posts by guest columnists, which will appear shortly.

Thanks for your patience!

Anonymous said...

After looking at the standings in AP Poll and Coach's poll - Florida and Oklahoma are #1 & #2. Why do we need to look at the BCS after that? If it says anything different it can only cause controversy.

If both polls do not agree (not caring if #1 or #2 is reversed between the two), I think the BCS would be a very good idea for the tiebreaker (only including the teams in the controversy).

I think we should only go to the BCS if both polls would NOT send the same two teams to the title game. It's been these two polls that have determined it before the BCS all these years.

Maybe they should consider that for 2012 if Obama doesn't get his playoff system in place by then.

Buzbee said...

After looking at the standings in AP Poll and Coach's poll - Florida and Oklahoma are #1 & #2. Why do we need to look at the BCS after that? If it says anything different it can only cause controversy.

If both polls do not agree (not caring if #1 or #2 is reversed between the two), I think the BCS would be a very good idea for the tiebreaker (only including the teams in the controversy).

I think we should only go to the BCS if both polls would NOT send the same two teams to the title game. It's been these two polls that have determined it before the BCS all these years.

Maybe they should consider that after 2012 if Obama doesn't get his playoff system in place by then.

Anonymous said...

Oklahoma rocks and is gonna beat flordia... that is all I know