Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Boise Is In, But BCS Still Flawed

The following is a guest column written by the co-founder of Playoff PAC. This article also appeared in RealClearSports.

By Matthew Sanderson

The college football world received good news Sunday night. Deserving and undefeated teams from Boise State and TCU received bowl invitations from the Bowl Championship Series. This will be the first post-season in BCS history that two teams from the five non-automatic qualifying conferences will receive BCS bowl berths in the same year. TCU automatically qualified for the invitation under BCS rules, while Boise State received an "at-large" invitation - a first for a "non-AQ" conference team.

These bowl invitations are a positive development, to be sure. But the BCS' new PR mercenaries, led by former Bush White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, are certain to over-inflate their importance. Even before yesterday's selection, they've compared the BCS to apple pie, motherhood, and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Wonder what they'll come up with now.

BCS officials will undoubtedly claim that the Broncos' bid, in particular, is proof positive that the door of opportunity is wide open to "non-AQ" schools under the BCS system. We need only look at the circumstances surrounding Boise State's invitation, though, to realize this is not true.

For the BCS to even consider extending this at-large berth, Boise State had to run up two consecutive undefeated regular seasons and manhandle this year's Pac-10 champion, the Oregon Ducks, along the way.

Yet Boise State still would not have received an invitation if any of the "Big Six" conference teams had a remotely credible claim to a big-time bowl. Because BCS rules bar any single conference from garnering more than one at-large bid and because SEC and Big Ten teams had already locked in the first two at-large spots, Boise State's competition for the final at-large BCS berth came from the ACC, Big 12, Big East, and Pac-10. Teams from those conferences - Oklahoma State, USC, Pittsburgh, Clemson, and others - were in the driver's seat but somehow couldn't close out the season successfully.

This left an enormous rankings gap of .2769 points between Boise State and the next eligible team, three-loss Virginia Tech. Selecting the three-loss Hokies over undefeated Boise State would have ignited the greatest uproar in BCS history and destroyed any remaining shreds of legitimacy. The BCS didn't select Boise State because they've turned over a new leaf. They begrudgingly extended the at-large invite because they had a gun to their head.

And after all that, the BCS issued a tainted invitation by making Boise State and fellow "non-AQ" team TCU face off against each other in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 4. One sportswriter is calling this "Separate But Equal Bowl" because it denies both teams an opportunity to prove their mettle against "Big Six" conference teams and allows the BCS to continue to rationalize its caste system by claiming a disparity in quality of play.

In addition, the BCS did nothing to address the system's greatest defects by selecting Boise State for an at-large spot. For example, the ACC will receive approximately $18.3 million from the BCS this post-season. For accomplishing the same feat - placing one team in a BCS bowl - the Mountain West Conference must divide $9.6 million among its fellow five "non-AQ" conferences. Forcing these teams to live off of table scraps is not good for college football's long-term health. Unfortunately, Boise State's historic at-large berth doesn't mean the BCS has changed its anti-competitive revenue distribution system.

Boise State's momentary inclusion also does not mean the BCS is suddenly a great way to choose a champion. Undefeated Cincinnati beat three teams ranked in the final AP Top 25 poll, while Texas defeated only two. Why exactly, then, is Texas "in" and Cincinnati "out" when the teams played in conferences of similar strength? Boise State and TCU have gripes similar to Cincinnati. Something is fundamentally wrong with a system that pointlessly rations championship opportunities and leaves three undefeated teams at home to watch the title game. The lesser BCS bowls are a poor consolation prize, even if they are a step up from the norm for these teams.

A single at-large bid for a "non-AQ" team cannot erase 11 years of scandal and controversy or cover up the system's inherent flaws. The status quo's warts remain. We need real reform in college football. Let's stop running this game needlessly on two cylinders and start a playoff.

Matthew Sanderson is a co-founder of Playoff PAC (www.PlayoffPAC.com) and an attorney at Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered in Washington, D.C. He served as Campaign Finance Counsel to John McCain 2008, Senator John McCain's presidential campaign committee. {These view are his own.}


JOhnny said...

I'm still excited for this game! I'm trying to win tickets even though chances aren't high but check it out www.steveclarksondreammaker.com/promotion.html

Anonymous said...

I'm pleased that Boise and TCU get to play each other in a bowl. A little taste of what the regular season is like for the AQ's... crazy !! I dont know if I should be more proud of Boise for Chirping about teams not wanting to play a home and home with them or TCU's schedule plus a win at UVA... Nevermind, that a better program like FSU held to the "we'll play anyone anywhere" for years... thats the way you build a program ! What you dont think FSU is better this year ? The ass-whopping FSU put on BYU is ignored but its a marquee game for Boise or TCU ? AHHHH HAHAHAHAHAHA LOL ... F-that

Mattu said...

The BCS is not a “committee” of College Presidents or Athletic Directors who decide who gets to play in what Bowl games. The BCS is an agreement between 4 Bowl Organizers to release one of their conference tie-ins (who they have contracts with) should they be ranked in the Top 2 of a composite ranking of the Coaches Poll, the Harris Poll and an Average of 6 computer polls…let that sink in for a second…slow your brain down to comprehension speed and read it again.

Remind me who the MWC and WAC have contracts with. Is it the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar or Orange?

If you want a play-off...just be pro play-off instead of anti-BCS...you'll gain more support.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mattu!
The anti BCS sentiment is ridiculous. The rose bowl has been around for over 100 years. And they have graciously agreed to a system to let anyone through their doors. The rose bowl and all other bowls are businesses whoose goal is to make profits. And that is exactly as it should be!!!
Wouldn't it be ridiculous if the SEC sued Roady's humanitarian bowl or the Las Vegas Bowl???
The BCS does only one thing... Pits the number one team against the number two team and every team in the country non-AQ or otherwise has equal access. The other games are just regular bowls that should be able to pick anyone they want for any reason they want.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

FIVE unbeaten teams with less than no hope of an undisputed national title? What a giant economy-sized ripoff! What a traveshamockery!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
The BCS does only one thing... Pits the number one team against the number two team and every team in the country non-AQ or otherwise has equal access. What a crock of Sh*t!.. The BCS "DOES NOT" pit #1 against#2. You "CANNOT" vote someone into a championship. This has to be earned on the field, something the BCS will not adhere 2. BCS is obviously FLAWED! Everyone "DOES NOT" have equal opportunity at the National Dog % Pony champoinship!

pcarsf said...

Cincinnati looked like a championship caliber team? Yeah right. After watching TCU and Boise St. tonight you can only thank the BCS for putting them together and saving us from 3 blowout over in the 2nd quarter games. Those teams have a punchers chance in a one game 30 day preparation scenario, but no chance to win 3 in a row against big time competition. There is a reason the SWC was dissolved, and it was mainly because teams like TCU and Rice were so bad perpetually that the conference suffered as a result. Texas played TCU only 2 years ago and thrashed them
34-13. These teams should take the money and be happy or try and join a legitamate conference rather than play 1 or 2 games and 9 or 10 scrimmages every year.

CodyG said...

This is one of the best well written arguments for the non AQ position I have read. I will follow your blog. There are issues across the board that need transparent highlighting to the world so that change may take place. Not necessarily remove the system, but merely improve it.