Monday, October 26, 2009

An Easy Explanation for the BCS --- Take Out the”C”

If you are a fan of major college football, you know that there is one method determining the two teams playing for the national championship within the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). It is a system that weighs 2 polls, computer rankings, and has a unique formula to determine standings or rankings. It also is a source of frustration for most college football fans due to 2 reasons --- its complexity and some of the qualifications. I will give a synopsis of the system that some say is BS.

Welcome to the Bowl Championship Series, better known as the BCS.

There is only one question to ask … How are teams selected for BCS games?

To answer that, there are teams that automatically qualify for a BCS game, namely the champions of the following conferences: Atlantic Coast (ACC), Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and Southeastern (SEC) throughout the 2013 regular season.

Easy enough, right? Now there are provisions for non-Automatic Qualifiers.

The conference champions of Conference-USA, Mid-American (MAC), Mountain West, Sun Belt, and Western Athletic (WAC) will earn a berth at a BCS game if one of two events occur:

One of these teams is in the top 12 in the final BCS standings OR
One of these teams is a top 16 BCS team and is ranked higher than a conference champion of an automatic qualifier.

Okay, that may not be so confusing --- but then there's this little piece of information that must be considered:

Notre Dame will earn a BCS berth should it finish in the top 8 in the final BCS standings.

But what happens if 2 or more non Automatic Qualifying teams fulfill these provisions? Well, only one team can go to a BCS game and that will be the higher ranked team in the final BCS standings while the other team(s) may earn a BCS bid should it meet the previously mentioned criteria.

There are other provisions too, but it becomes complicated so I won't elaborate.

Such an easy concept --- yeah, right!

The next provision is that of at-large eligibility. If there are not 10 teams that automatically qualify for BCS berths then the following criteria must be met to get an At-Large bid.

Teams must have 9 regular season victories, AND
Is in the top 14 in the final BCS standings.

There are other provisions should there not be enough eligible teams, but yet again, it is complicated and not worth my breath.

For most college football fans, there are obvious facts. One is the top 2 teams in the final BCS standings play for the National Championship and that certain conferences are contractually committed to host bowl games. Those being the ACC for the Orange Bowl, the SEC for the Sugar Bowl, the Big 12 for the Fiesta Bowl, and the Big Ten and Pac-10 hosting the Rose Bowl.

Should a bowl game lose a host because that team is in the National Championship game, it shall be replaced by either an Automatic Qualifier or an At-Large team. And yes, there are other provisions should certain events occur.

A pain in the neck about now!

Now to the BCS standings and how they are compiled. More fun!!!

The BCS standings are comprised of the Harris Interactive College Football Poll, the USA Today Coaches Poll, and computer rankings (SIX of those!) of which each has an equal third of weight. To get the percentages of each, all teams get an inverse point total, such as 25 points for #1, 24 points for #2, and so on.

The percentages of the two polls are calculated by dividing each team's point total by a maximum 2850 possible points for the Harris Poll and a maximum of 1525 points from the USA Coaches Poll. The computer rankings percentage is calculated by dropping the highest and lowest ranking for each team and then the remaining total is divided by one hundred. Included in the six computer rankings are strength of schedule, of which I haven't a clue on how that's determined. I'm guessing that each provider has it's own formula to derive that.

Finally, the BCS Average is formed by averaging the percentages of the Harris and USA Coaches Polls and the computer rankings. These averages are ranked to get the BCS Standings.

Let's see, all of that to determine the BCS National Championship Game participants, determining any other Automatic Qualifiers, and establishing the pool for At-Large teams.

Go at it you math majors!

Now we all know the workings of the BCS...well, some of it. It's complicated and it's made major college football a sham to some. Of course, you can get more information on the BCS at the official BCS site within the links provided. It's a lousy read --- really it is.

Now that I'm finished, I need some Advil for my headache, sore neck, and sore fingers. Perhaps I may need a hospital stay to go into traction.

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  1. I'm confused. Just give me a playoff system.

  2. This is such a complicated and convuluted system. Like Dylan said in the comment above, I am for a simple playoff system.

    Thanks for contributing this post to the Athletic Alley Blog Carnival.

  3. Thanks guys...I would like a 12 team system as opposed to 8 like most want. Simple enough as the top 4 teams get a bye in the 1st round.