Welcome to the world of the Bowl Championship Series where the national champion of collegiate football is decided by preseason rankings and computer formulas.
A couple of weeks before the regular season starts, a group of sixty-five broadcasters and sportswriters from across the United States vote on the rankings of the top 25 college football teams based on last year’s performance of a squad and preseason predications.
Another poll is collected from 59 head coaches of Football Bowl Subdivision teams. This division represents the highest form of college football in the country. These two preseason polls are the basis for all future rankings the rest of the year. It is perfectly reasonable to rank teams without seeing them play a snap. The polls should not evaluate a team’s performance after their first game, but they should reflect how a team looked in the spring, summer and the previous fall and winter.
For example, the University of Mississippi was ranked No. 8 in the preseason rankings based on ending last year on a six-game winning streak and the hype surrounding quarterback Jevan Snead. So far this season, the Rebels have beaten weak Memphis and Southeastern Louisiana teams and lost to South Carolina, a supposed inferior opponent.
So what? The team looked great last year and they looked outstanding in practice this summer.
A computer should decide which two college football teams play in the national championship game and the other four prominent bowl games, the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. It is only right that after all the hard work players and coaches put in during the season, that a computer formula should decide a team’s fate. Who cares that President Obama said the NCAA should do away with this system? There is no playoff system, like there is in college basketball or lower levels of college football.
The BCS used to utilize such arbitrary statistics as the strength of a team’s schedule and other mathematical formulas to determine the two participants in the national championship game, but in 2004 the system was fixed. The BCS now combines several sets of rankings, including the media and coaches’ polls, into a new algorithm to reveal the two best squads in the FBS. I never knew math was such a vital part of college football.
It is perfectly understandable to let other people’s evaluations of teams decide who plays in the most prestigious and important game of the season. And so, “small schools” like TCU, Houston and Boise State can’t crash the BCS party: they only let one school from a “non-BCS” conference go to a BCS bowl game. As a result, for TCU to go to a BCS bowl game, the Horned Frogs have to go undefeated and hope Boise State loses a game.
Going undefeated is not enough. It is a good system though because no one wants to see those teams play (I have already forgotten how the 2007 Fiesta Bowl between Boise State and Oklahoma ended.) The viewers want to see Ohio State get blown out by Florida or LSU.
This system is perfect, and what’s great is that there are going to be no changes to come in the near future.
Chris Varano is a freshman film, television and digital media major from Suffern, NY.