Solving the BCS Madness Once and for All!

Posted on November 7, 2011

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By Geoff Ratliff

And so it begins! With the release of yesterday’s BCS poll results and Alabama falling only to third in the most recent poll following it’s overtime loss to LSU, the chorus of boos began in what has become an annual right of passage for BCS bashers. Stanford and Boise State supporters were particularly irate that their undefeated campaigns were dumped on by the pollsters and the computers. Some version of “Alabama #3 after they lost at HOME?!?! Nonsense!” is the most common refrain heard from those two camps.

I am not a fan of the BCS system by any measure, but the argument that Alabama is not one of the three best teams in the country is silly. The problem is that the current system creates a conundrum that doesn’t allow us to view the polls separate from the role that they play in determining the National Champion.

The polls really have one purpose and one purpose only: to give us, the fans, a basis for debating who the 25 best teams in the country are. By that measure, they work surprisingly well, the BCS poll especially.

I watched every second of the Alabama/LSU tilt, and while the offenses were absolutely painful to watch, I saw absolutely nothing to convince me these weren’t still the two best teams in the country. Seeing an Oklahoma State team struggle at home against a Kansas State squad that has clearly overachieved this season added support to my case. Stanford’s most impressive win to date is a triple overtime road victory over a barely ranked USC squad while Boise State still has that “road” victory over Georgia to hang it’s hat on – a win that could look particularly impressive should Georgia manage to win the SEC East and give LSU a challenge in the SEC Championship, assuming that match up plays out. Given what I’ve seen on the field this year, I’m comfortable with the current LSU, Oklahoma State, Alabama, Stanford, and Boise State pecking order.

What is not ok, however, is what this BCS poll order means for the championship hopes of said teams. Even in a very real scenario in which Stanford loses on the road to Oregon this weekend – a scenario that the BCS proponents are undoubtedly praying for – it is still incredibly likely that we will end up with three undefeated teams in the BCS top five yet again (I’m not going to bother discrediting myself by putting the University of Houston into this particular discussion, except to say that I would like to see them at least get a shot at a BCS Bowl game). I actually like the argument that most BCS defenders make that the regular season serves as a de facto playoff, but it only works if you are left with just two undefeated teams.

Why are the BCS proponents so against a plus one system? With the 4-5 week layoff between the conference championship games and the BCS Bowls, would it really be so hard to shorten that gap by a week to give us a mini-playoff between the top four teams? I actually believe the best system would be one in which any team that finishes their regular season undefeated and in the top 5 of the final BCS poll get’s a shot too, even if that means giving the top seeded team a bye and adding a week of competition. Who wouldn’t love that? You get to keep your silly 30+ bowls with the current BCS structure mostly intact, it generates more money, the schedule is not extended for the “student” athletes who participate, and we get an undisputed National Champion. There’s not a coach, college president, or fan in America who could argue with this scenario, provided that it was well thought out and properly executed. It’s much cleaner than even an eight team playoff and has the same payoff for the fans. Let’s stop the madness and make this happen yesterday. You’re welcome for the idea by the way.

Contact Geoff at geoff@popflyboys.com and follow him on Twitter @snglemarriedguy