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Let’s Use the AP to Fix the BCS Mess

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While working through the College Football Bowl Season, I have heard a commentator (or five) mention that the Associated Press does not have to vote for the winner of the BCS game if the AP members are more impressed with say, Southern California or Texas.

Then the college football season ended the first week of December and all of these bowls are nothing but a corporate football holiday. The purpose of the Bowl Championship Series is to provide the anointed Top 10 of the BCS a chance to play in the best games and the Top 2 play for the National Championship in the BCS National Championship game.

But if the AP awards a championship that differs from the BCS (and we all know it has happened before), then that championship carries as much weight as the one I award on behalf of The Gridiron Breakdown.

I get what message board fans mean when they use the phrase “mythical national championship” now more than ever. Granted this scenario is only possible if Florida beats Oklahoma is a less-than-convincing fashion. Then, enter in the discourse on why another team “deserves” a nod as national champions.

Let’s examine the reasoning for this for a moment. These maverick voters in the AP argue that it is not fair to hold an early season loss against a team like Southern California. After all, it was on the road, against a conference opponent, on an off night. Look at what they have done since. Well, what that team has done is destroy far inferior opponents and play close against a few better opponents.

Great work, congratulations on the season, and enjoy the Rose Bowl win. But if you do not play in the National Championship Game, you should not be rewarded with a National Championship Trophy. Sorry, that is just the way the system is set.

I have listened to the talking heads of college football talk about all kinds of plus-one, bowl division, bracket systems that take a minor in Calculus to understand. The fundamental issue is never really addressed. The media and a set of computer calculations elect a National Champion. Even in the most positive way of looking at it, these entities elect for two teams to play in the deciding game of a championship. That is nothing like what we get in March/April in college basketball. It is not even what the “lower” divisions of college football stage.

But wait a minute. Maybe this is what college football fans should hope for. If the AP goes in a different direction than the BCS for a few years, then maybe that will be the final die cast for serious change in the championship system as we know it. Maybe a little anarchy is just what we need.

This is not meant as a shot at or rally call to the members of the AP. It is each individual member’s right to vote how he/she chooses to. The AP poll is generally a solid representation of the top teams playing each fall. In recent years, the BCS has made moves to place less and less emphasis on the polls in the rankings. The rift is already there. Now, we just need to widen it a little.

I realize this is a pipe dream on the level of Super Mario Bros. 2, but this conundrum occurs almost every off-season. The fans left out of the BCS Championship Game feels slighted by the system. College football’s popularity (and TV ratings) has increased greatly in the recent years. However, I posit that at some point fans are going to grow tired enough of the flaws of the BCS to walk away in significant numbers from the game no matter how much passion the fans may have for the team/game. The system powers-that-be should take notice and action now. After all, there actually is an infinite number of times you can feed garbage to the fans and expect them to take it as gourmet food.

Just ask the National Hockey League.

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About J. Newcastle

  • http://whalertly.blogspot.com Robert M. Barga

    Do you actually expect the kids to be able to do a playoff system?

  • http://www.gridironbreakdown.com Jay Skipworth

    Actually, the mechanism is in place for the Top 4 teams to play in two of the four BCS bowls and then use the BCSCG to play the winners. I realize this only widens the argument to who should be in the Top 4, but it is better than nothing. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • LA Gator

    Let me guess. USC alumnus, Jay? Every year it’s the same cry baby song, “We’re the best team even though we’re not in the BCS championship game. The AP should make us their national champion.”

    I am one who wishes there was a playoff system in place. But until there is, every team (except apparently USC) plays for the crystal football. So please spare us all the whining. We’ve heard it every year except for the year the USC actually won the BCS trophy. That year the BCS was a great system in Los Angeles.

  • http://www.gridironbreakdown.com Jay Skipworth

    Actually, LA Gator, I’m an alum of the University of North Alabama. I hate the BCS and think it is a complete sham. I also hate the USC whining. I’m just saying let’s use the dissension to create change. Will it happen? I highly doubt it, but it was fun to write about nonetheless.

    Thanks for reading. I assume by your screen name that you pull for the UF Gators. Best wishes in the BCSCG!

    Thanks again.

  • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/gridironbreakdown Jay Skipworth

    By the way, join in on the radio show Saturday, January 3 at 9:30 am Central Time on Gridiron Breakdown for an hour of football discussion. If you miss it live, the show site hosts an archive available for free download about an hour after the show ends.

  • Crayton

    A Plus-one?
    Fiesta: 1. Oklahoma – 4. Alabama (1st at large)
    Sugar: 2. Florida – 3. Texas (2nd at large)
    Rose: 5. USC – 8. Penn State (Big Ten – Pac-10)
    Orange: 19. Va Tech – 12. Cincy (3rd at large)

    Does USC go to the National Championship? There is just as much confusion in early January as early December. Nothing is solved. You need to make it a hard 4-team playoff:

    Fiesta: 1. Oklahoma – 5. USC (champs in top 5/)
    Sugar: 2. Florida – 3. Texas (/and top at large)

    Cotton: 4. Alabama – 10. Ohio St (1st and 4th)
    Rose: 8. Penn State – 6. Utah (2nd at large/replacement)
    Orange: 19. Va Tech – 12. Cincy (3rd at large)

  • http://whalertly.blogspot.com Robert M. Barga

    10 BCS conferences, 16 teams in the playoffs

    1 from each conference (the winner)
    the next 6 in the BCS rankings, no matter who they are

    playoff (1v16, etc)

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    “it is not fair to hold an early season loss against a team like Southern California. After all, it was on the road, against a conference opponent, on an off night. Look at what they have done since. Well, what that team has done is destroy far inferior opponents and play close against a few better opponents.”

    The same can almost be said of Florida, whose loss was also in September, but at home, against a team that’s probably on the same level as Oregon State. UF also went on a tear after that Ole Miss loss and beat every other SEC team on their schedule since then by an average — AVERAGE — of 38 points. I guess it’s a question of what’s more impressive: beating SEC teams by 38 or beating Pac 10 teams by 36.

    It may not be USC’s fault that they played in a weaker conference than Florida and Oklahoma/Texas, but you can’t control strength of schedule in college basketball, either.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “Do you actually expect the kids to be able to do a playoff system?”

    You mean as opposed to the kids in all the other sports and divisions?

    Apparently Alabama didn’t get the memo about how strong the SEC is compared to the MWC.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Well, the MWC went 3-2 in bowl games. The SEC is 5-2 with one to go.

    Fun fact: The Mountain West will finish the season with two top 10 teams (Utah, TCU). If Alabama finishes 11th or worse, only the Big XII will be able to say they have two (maybe three) of the ten best teams. If Utah ever finishes undefeated again, they will be a serious sexy pick to be in a national championship game if nobody else is perfect.

    More fun stuff: The “worse” Pac 10? Five bowl teams, five bowl wins. Nobody else was perfect in the postseason. So why was their strength of schedule considered worse? You can probably blame the entire state of Washington. Only the C-USA could brag about two 10-loss teams this year.