Get your calculator ready.Last season, Southern California finished No. 1 in the Associated Press and USA Today polls, No. 2 in the BCS, received two first place votes out of the six BCS computer rankings and had a BCS average percentage of .9770.
Seems simple enough, right?
With the ever-changing components and calculations, the Bowl Championship Series continually causes disputes among coaches, commentators and fans.
The alternative option in determining a national champion would be a playoff system.
“The idea of a playoff system has always been kicked around,” said Mark Cohen, director of media relations.
There are pros and cons to be considered for both options.
Head football coach Gary Patterson said a playoff system would be tough to implement in college football.
“I’m not against it,” Patterson said. “But it’s a strain on the athletes both physically and academically.”
Patterson said the bowl system helps to bring money and recognition to the schools that are eligible to participate.
“The bowls help us in a lot of different ways,” Patterson said. “Not only do the bowls generate recognition for the university, but the athletes gain experience that they wouldn’t see otherwise.”
Patterson said the recognition TCU received after the Sun Bowl in 1999, when TCU beat USC, is just one of the benefits of the bowl system.
“That woke the country up to TCU in terms of athletics,” Patterson said. “A playoff system would mean no bowl games.”
Since the first bowl game in 1902, participating colleges and universities have enjoyed the monetary benefits the bowl games have to offer.
“I like the tradition of the bowls and whenever a bowl game gives a traditional matchup like the 2004 Rose Bowl did with USC and Michigan,” said junior biology major Jonathan Schoen.
Today, there are 28 bowl games that give postseason opportunities for about 5,600 student-athletes, according to the BCS Media Guide.
The BCS rankings are determined by three components: compilation of standings, polls and computer rankings.
This season, the BCS is not taking into account the Associated Press Top 25 Poll. Instead, the rankings from the new interactive Harris Poll are being used.
The Harris Poll voters include former college football players and coaches. Former TCU athletics director Frank Windegger and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw are among those selected to vote in the Harris Poll.
The Harris Poll had its first brush with controversy earlier this season when Idaho, a team with an 0-4 record, received votes.
Another factor in the BCS, is its computer rankings.
Last season, margin of victory was eliminated from the computer in determining a team’s rank. Teams are ranked by six computer rankings (from 1-25 inversely), and then those rankings are averaged.
“I’d rather see a playoff system,” said sophomore business major Travis Bailey. “No matter how accurate the BCS calculations are, there always seems to be a dispute every year.”
According to the media guide, next year’s postseason will be a little different.
In addition to the four BCS bowl games, a fifth game is being added.
The national championship game will be held a week after the four bowl games in a “double hosting” format. This means that the National Championship game will still rotate through the city of a BCS bowl game, but the name of the bowl will no longer be attached to the showdown.
“They’re always tweaking the system,” Cohen said.
Cohen said the constant changes show that the system isn’t perfect, but those behind it are always working to improve it.