Ok, so this has been bouncing around my head while I was cleaning up the fallen branches from the recent snowfall. I'm not going to say anything too wild and crazy here (down with the BCS), but maybe I'll say it in a different way.
Conference championship games: EPIC FAIL
First of all, conference championship games are highly overrated, especially when they are rematches. Ideally, the conf champ game should decide who the champ is for the conference (regardless of which team wins). However, this is rarely the case, and when there is a rematch, this game will often muddy the waters even more. As an example, let's take a look at the championship games this season to see if this ever happens:
MAC: NIU vs. the Bobcats. Both teams were 9-3, but NIU was 7-1 in the league, while the Bobcats were 6-2. Toledo muddies the situation because they were also 7-1 in the league (but 8-4 overall). It seems like Toledo could have an argument for being the "best" in the conference if the Bobcats had won. Championship game FAIL.
Pac 10: Oregon vs. UCLA. What a joke! Obviously this FAILs. But let's pretend that USC was bowl elgible, an Oregon vs. USC game still doesn't work because of Stanford. Championship game FAIL.
Conference USA: Houston (12-0, 8-0) vs. Southern Miss (10-2, 6-2). Here, they had a clear cut champion, who ended up losing. And let's also note that Tulsa was 8-4 (7-1)...so in effect they played a game between the #1 and #3 teams for this one...and the #3 team won. Championship game FAIL.
SEC: The well known case of LSU (12-0, 8-0) vs Georgia (10-2, 7-1). Raise your hand if you think that Georgia winning that game meant that they were the best team in the SEC...anyone...Bueller? Right, me neither. So why did they play this sham of a game? Because they couldn't play...
SEC championship (part 2): This will be LSU vs Alabama in a game that should be televised on Jefferson Pilot. Alabama LOST. At HOME. They couldn't even win their DIVISION, much less their CONFERENCE. The result should be different in the superdome? Even if Alabama wins, who should the champ be? 13-1 LSU or 12-1 Alabama? The word of the day is specious (link provided for any SEC fans who got lost here). SEC championship DOUBLE FAIL.
ACC championship: Virginia Tech (11-1, 7-1) vs. Clemson (9-3, 6-2). At least they got the best two teams in the league for this one. But, in my opinion, this league again had a clear cut champion. For this one, it could be argued both ways: VT still has a better overall record, but Clemson beat VT twice, and these two teams were the class of the league. I'll give this one a PUSH
BIG championship: Sparty (10-2, 7-1) vs. Bucky (10-2, 6-2). Here we had a clear cut champ. And if Sparty had pulled it off, I wouldn't have any qualms about calling little bro the conference champ. But they didn't. And now, who should be the champ? Should Sparty? I mean they split the season series, and both games were competitive. And let's not ignore Michigan and Penn State--both 6-2 in the league and having an equal number of losses as MSU and UW. Championship game FAIL.
So by my estimation, championship games are 0-6-1 this season. (The SEC gets the -2 because of the double fail...no relevant championship game, and forcing a MNC game that means nothing!) Conference championships: Defend your existance
Fixing the BCS:
Moreover, we have another problem. Oftentimes, the conference championship game loser gets punished because they played an extra game against a high quality opponent. In all of the AQ conferences the championship game loser could have easily been bumped from a BCS game. Join me in "maximum chaos world."
Oregon loses to UCLA. UCLA goes to the Rose Bowl and Stanford still gets a BCS bid. Oregon plays in the nobodycares.com bowl.
Georgia beats LSU. Georgia and Alabama get BCS games. LSU gets the Capital One Bowl.
UW beats MSU...MSU gets Outback Bowl (not even the Citrus...)
MSU beats UW...we can probably assume the same. (or maybe UW gets the citrus over Nebraska, who they pummeled).
VT beats Clemson...Clemson joins Oregon in the nobodycares.com bowl.
Clemson beats VT...If Boise State and/or Houston had stayed undefeated VT probably doesn't make it because of the autobids.
We replay the 2006 season in 2011. UM and OSU both get to the game undefeated. This also sets the schedule for the championship. OSU wins game 1 at home, Michigan wins game 2 in Indy. IIRC, Wisconsin was ~#5 in the polls that year. OSU falls below UW and UM and UW go to a BCS game.
Flip that scenario (UM wins game 1, OSU wins game 2, UW/PSU/Neb/MSU/Iowa is sitting at 4 or 5 right behind #1/2 UM/OSU). Now Michigan gets the Capital One Bowl.
To make the BCS have some semblance of logic, and to be consistent with their own mantra (each game matters), they need three rules.
- The national championship must be between two teams who won their conference. [Otherwise LSU v. Alabama part 1 didn't matter]
- In order to qualify for the BCS from a conference with a championship game, you must play in the championship game (i.e. you must win your division). In order to make it from an AQ conference with no championship game, you must be #1 or #2 in your league. (Less important because of ties and other clusterf-y things at the top of some conferences.) [Otherwise winning your division/finishing ahead of someone in your conference standings doesn't matter]
- Any championship game loser must not be punished in the BCS standings by playing a CG. If they qualified before the CG (from an AQ conference), they should stay qualified. [Otherwise you get punished for playing a game rather than a tomato can.]
I realize that these rules put a torch to the BCS games that they've got, and it would leave out a number of heavy hitters from this season's BCS (Michigan, Alabama, Stanford)--but then Boise State likes this just fine thanks. I know it's not perfect, but the BCS is inherently flawed. That is why we need:
A playoff system
First off, I don't care about the bowl system, as it is so lovingly called right now. We have way too many bowl games, and too many of them already are untenable, especially for teams that don't travel well. Colleges need to learn to say "no" to ticket guarantees and force these games to justify their own existence. If the whodafcares.com bowl was no longer in existence it would be just one less game that I don't watch.
Secondly, as Brian said:
Let's go back to first principles. What is the point of a playoff? Most soccer leagues across the globe play a balanced schedule and eschew the playoffs entirely. The season determines the champion. To them, the American way of doing things is stupid. And when you've set up your league such that everyone plays everyone else home and away, it is. Around here, however, there are very big leagues where balanced schedules are impossible and at the end of the regular season you're not quite sure who the best team is. So it makes sense to have the teams that you think might be the best team play each other.
All I've really done so far is extend this same argument:
Playoffs are assets when both of the following criteria are met:
- The regular season is insufficient to determine a best team.
- The winner of the playoff can reasonably claim to be the best team.
to conference championship games. I'm not going to make another bracket here, but I think if we eliminate conference championship games, we could add one more round to Brian's playoff proposal since we have one more week to play with. At this point, any idea is better than the BCS, right?