The current BCS system for many years now has been under much scrutiny on the figures the computers provide, as well as the selections process regarding the BCS championship game and the other 4 major bowls. The BCS contract will expire in 2014, and serious talks within the world of college football have been aiming towards amendments in the postseason process in regards to the role of the BCS. I feel that a change is not necessary, but healthy for the sport in the long run. Those who may simply dismiss the current BCS system as unpractical or unfair I feel are taking too drastic a step, and are over-simplistic in how they are evaluating college football as a whole.
College football has always been popular in the U.S. on the mainstream level, but the BCS elevated college football to a new, modern echelon that would have never been possible under any other system. Stanford fans should be especially aware of this, considering the BCS implications stemming from the Cardinal victory over USC in 2007, which sent shock waves throughout the ranks of collegiate football. On that October night, fans across the country gasped and cheered at the chaos which would follow the Trojan loss. At the announcement of the Stanford-USC score, the violent uproars felt in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge or in the Rose Bowl that night would be but meaningless “ohh’s and ahh’s” if a large-scale playoff existed without some kind of ranking system like the BCS. If the BCS did not exist, and perhaps a large postseason playoff instead, the Stanford victory would mean very little in the long run for the Trojans. National media would have eventually shrugged off the win as a road bump for the Trojans en route to staying in the top 16 for the rest of the year to still have a national title shot.
The BCS has taught us that every game matters. Under the current system, the entire season is a playoff in itself. If you are a BCS team in a major conference with a respectable schedule, win and you’re in. Of course there will always be exceptions, and nothing will ever be perfect (USC in ’03, Auburn in ’04, Boise St.), but the system has achieved a sense a dire emergency for teams to win all of their games, regardless of their “importance”, something the NFL lacks. This system awards teams who perform at the highest level from start to finish, something the NFL also lacks.
What should we change then? With the BCS in the picture in some shape or form, the only realistic possibilities are the status quo or a 4 team playoff. A playoff that is any larger would be unrealistic and would dull the sport. No conference or bowl committee could expect fans from Alabama to travel to the Rose Bowl for a first round game, and then turn around and travel to Miami for the next round. Attendance at these games would be atrocious. Attendance would begin to resemble the monotonous, colorless crowds of rich business executives entertaining clients in the stands like that of the Super Bowl. What about playing on a team’s home field? That solves our attendance problem, although many more persist on the overall picture. There is always this issue of being “fair”. Boise State and Utah fans would argue that the past few years for them have been anything but fair. A 4-team playoff does address this issue partly, but the fairness problem does not magically vanish. Currently, there have been teams fighting for and debating who deserves the #2 spot to play in the title game. With a 4-team playoff, the same conversation would occur about who should be #4. The fairness issue goes largely unresolved, but rather swept under the rug. Is this better? In my opinion, yes, because I would rather see the system at least get 3 teams in contention for the title “right” as opposed to 1 under the current system.
To realistically address the BCS problems, I feel that the current criteria that combines the Harris Poll, Coaches Poll, and Computer rankings is an effective and largely accurate system, and should not be changed. Complaining that the system is not perfect is not an effective argument against the BCS. No system will ever get everything right. The only amendment I would support would be the addition of a small, 4-team playoff, with higher ranked teams having home field advantage, and then most likely a neutral site for the title game. Seeing as the 4-team playoff would change the outlook of the Orange, Rose, Sugar, and Fiesta bowls, there may have to be additional changes made concerning automatic qualifiers to these bowls. I personally am not entertained watching a Big East team ranked in the 20’s play a BCS game. I am not against that criteria being changed either. Whatever is decided in the end, we cannot allow college football to lose the sense of urgency it has. The BCS has instilled this in the game, and it is pure magic in my opinion. Every game is important. This is what makes college football so enjoyable. This is why college football’s regular season makes the NFL and NBA pale in comparison. Everything matters. It’s a never-ending roller coaster of victory, defeat, controversy, and of dire emergency to win all games. If that doesn’t sound like an awesome season to watch, check your pulse.