Posted on: December 10, 2010 3:07 pm

Improving the BCS

So what can be done with the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) to improve it?
WAIT!!! Put your "need a play-off" comments elsewhere.
Whether your points on a playoff/post-season tournament are valid or not is not germane to this discussion.
A playoff is not going to come about any time soon for many rock solid reasons that most do not care to accept.
What this is about is how to improve the existing BCS within the constraints of practicalities.
The BCS consists of ranking system and rules through which teams are selected to fill 4 of the 34 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) recognoized post-season bowls plus the BCS Championship game.
The first thing that must be understood is that the BCS does not control any of the 35 bowl games or which teams play where. That is done by the Football Bowl Association.

What the BCS does do is designate which 2 teams will play in the BCS Championship game and determine which teams get automatic bids (AB) and at large bids to the BCS designated bowls (Rose, Orange, Fiesta, and Sugar).

The tie-ins for the Rose, Orange, Fiesta, and Sugar bowls comes from historical/legacy contractual obligations. (The conferences with those tie-ins obviously do not wish to give up their cash cows, which is the primary reason things will not change, at least not quickly.) The FBA is responsible for designating conference tie-ins with the other 30 bowls.
The selection of which teams play in which BCS bowl is through a set of rules, the basics of which are:
 (a) BCS No. 1 plays BCS No. 2 in the BCS Championship game
 (b) No conference may have more than 2 teams in BCS bowls unless the conference has 2 teams in the BCS Championship game and neither of those 2 are the designated conference champion
 (c) 6 conferences (Big Ten, Pacific 10, Big XII, Atlantic Coast, Big East, and Southeastern) get automatic bids (AB) for their designated conference champion if that team is bowl eligible (6 wins)
 (d) only 1 of the other 5 FBS conferences can get an automatic bid under specific conditions
 (e) Notre Dame can get an automatic bid if ranked in the top 8
 (f) There are a few other specific conditions for automatic bids such as the BCS No. 3 (or No. 4) gets an automatic bid if not the conference champion
 (g) To fill any openings in the 10 invitations, a series of at large rules are applied starting with a top 14 BCS ranking and 9 wins
The BCS rankings are determined by averaging results from the Coaches Poll, the Harris Poll, and an average of computer rankings.
The Coaches Poll is conducted by USA Today, a news company, and is based on the voting of 59 active FBS coaches. Approximately 1/2 of the FBS teams are voters. How the coaches are selected was not found by internet search.
The Harris Poll is conducted by Harris Interactive, Marketing Research company, and is based on the voting of 114 panelists. The panelists are former coaches, players, administrators and former and current media persons. The panelists are randomly drawn from 300 names submitted by the 11 conferences and independents.
The computer rankings are derived from 6 computer programs (Anderson & Hester, Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey, Jeff Sagarin, and Peter Wolfe). Prior to averaging, the highest and lowest scores are thrown out and the remaining 4 are averaged. A percentage is calculated based on a maximum of 100 points with a 1st place vote being worth 25 points.

So, then what are the objectives? Or better still, what should be the objectives?

One, obviously, is to ensure the best 2 teams get into the BCS Championship game.
Another would be to ensure the most worthy teams get into the best bowls.
How about trying to make the contests evenly matched so the games are as entertaining as possible?
It is all about money, nowadays, so how about some fairness, an equitible cash disbersement in an attempt to better achieve parity?

Some proposed improvements. Most of these can be implemented independent of the others. All will make some kind of improvement with very low risk of unwanted side effects.

1. Rank the bowl games and schedule them in order of rank. It is interesting that there are some secondary bowls scheduled between the BCS big 4 and the BCS NCG.
2. Any team that schedules a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS, aka D-IAA) team should be penalized in the BCS rankings, win or lose.
3. Any team that does not schedule at least 1 team from an automatic bid conference as one of its out-of-conference (OOC) games is disqualified from BCS bowl selection.
4. A team that plays (win or lose) 2 or more AB teams OOC improves its BCS ranking.
5. All OOC road games count more than OOC home games. (All conferences already try to be equitable with home and away games, so there should be no penalty or reward for conference games.)
6. For the BCS rankings, add 4 more human polls and, like is done with the computer rankings, throw out the highest and the lowest scores for each team and average to make 1 human (average of 4) poll that is then averaged with the 1 computer (average of 4) poll.
7. Allow the computer rankings to include margin of victory (MoV), but only benefitting a team up to a point. Any win by greater than 2 TDs counts as a 2-TD MoV. Ok, maybe 3 TD, but there needs to be a cap.
8. Weigh the 6 human pols and the 6 computer rankings by how well they predict games. In stead of throwing out the highest and lowest scores, thow out the 2 worst performers for each.
9. To receive a conference champion AB, the team shall at least meet the minimum requirements for At Large consideration (BCS Top 14, 9 wins).
10. To be BCS eligible, even for the AB conference champions, the team shall have won at least 9 games versus FBS teams.
11. Add 2 more BCS bowls. Each conference, plus an independent, has an opportunity to have its champion qualify for an automatic bid. For a conference champion to get the AB, it must be ranked in the FCS Top 20, have at least 9 wins versus FBS teams, no losses to FCS teams, and at least 2 OOC road games. If a conference champion does not qualify, then the berth is filled by the highest BCS ranked uncommitted team. Conferences are limited to 4 teams getting BCS invitations.
12. Add 4 BCS bowls. Each conference champion gets an AB. The highest ranked independent gets an AB. The 4 at large are the highest BCS ranked uncommitted teams. No. 1 playes No. 2. 3 plays 4 and so on. The 2 teams with the best (best is a set of metrics, such as total yards, margin of victory, red zone efficiency, whatever) play in the BCS Championship Game. Yes, this is a "plus one" format.
Any other ideas?
Hate this or love this, but please leave the play-off comments out. A play-off just is not going to happen.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: June 28, 2009 5:44 am

BCS, Play-offs, and Bowls

Of course the Bowl Championship Series is about money. But before one rags the "evil" BCS conferences, one should do a little reading.

The BCS had to make concessions to get the conferences to join. For example, to get the Big Ten and Pac-10 to join, the BCS had to grant automatic bids. Why? Because for over 50 years (then, since 1947) the Big Ten and Pac-10 had an agreement to have the conference champions meet on New Year's Day in the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl, pre-BCS, was the highest paying and more prestigious of all the bowls.

The so-called BCS National Championship game has been played for the last 3 years. Prior to the 2006 season, there was no such game. The SEC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, and Pac-10 conference champions plus independent Notre Dame played in 4 bowls, Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, and Orange.

It is important to remember that the so-called BCS National Championship game is NOT recognized by the NCAA as a collegiate championship.

Prior to the BCS was the Bowl Alliance (95-97) that included the SEC, ACC, Big East, Big 12, and the Southwest (1995 only) conference champions plus Notre Dame playing in the Sugar, Fiesta, and Orange bowls. 2 at-large teams were allowed to compete.

Prior to the Bowl Alliance was the Bowl Coalition (92-94) that included the SEC, ACC, Big East, Big 8, and Southwest conference champions plus Notre Dame playing in the Sugar, Fiesta, Orange, Cotton, Gator, and Sun bowls. 5 at-large teams were allowed to compete.

Prior to 1992, there were just the bowl games. The bowl games were rewards to teams that had good seasons and offered players one last opportunity to showcase their skills to the NFL. There were the major bowls (Rose, Sugar, Cotton, and Orange) and mid and minor bowls.

Rose: tied-in with the Big Ten and Pac-10
Orange: at various times tied-in with the Big 12, ACC, and Big East
Sugar: tied-in with the SEC
Cotton: tied-in with the now defunct Southwest Conference
Sun: tied-in with now defunct Border Conference
Fiesta: no conference tie-ins, originally associated with the Western Athletic Conference
Gator: loosely tied-in with the SEC

Of course it is about money. The BCS is nothing more than a business arrangement that allows better negotiating terms for TV revenues, etc. No one is going to get the conferences to give up their automatic bids, especially the conferences that had prior business agreements that spanned decades.

My vote is to scrap the BCS and go back to the old bowl system. The BCS and this clammoring for a playoff system is only pushing college football further down the road to being NFL farm teams. We really should go back to the true student-athlete approach.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com