Slate Article: Small Schools to Blame for BCS

Submitted by Big Brown Jug on January 7th, 2010 at 4:23 PM

An article from rehashing reasons the BCS rankings are retarded that have been discussed extensively on this site. However the fourth bullet presents an interesting theory for why a playoff never got adopted in the 1990's.


1. The smaller schools, which outnumber the big football powerhouses about 5-to-1, would have voted to send a lot of the money to the smaller schools that in fact had not participated in the national championship contest in any meaningful way.

2. The big football schools would have bolted and revolted. They'd have walked out of the NCAA and formed their own organization. The two-tiered system of NCAA and NAIA schools would have been replaced by a three-tiered system with the NCAA occupying the middle tier.

Still boils down to money, but I haven't heard it presented this way before. Also chuckled at the use of 'Gomer.'



January 7th, 2010 at 4:29 PM ^

Probably a good point. The bigger schools have a lesser incentive to share.

If the bigger teams did form their own sanctioning body, I would hope they would align with Virgil and IRS to re-form Money Inc.

Section 1

January 7th, 2010 at 4:46 PM ^

When you get a bunch of sportswriters and casual fans together, it seems so obvious to them, that there needs to be some kind of playoff system -- one that they are not responsible for.

And when you get a bunch of Athletic Directors, coaches, University Administrators, NCAA officials and yes even some bowl representatives together (the people who are and who have been and who will be responsible for actually managing the sport and its future) they all have thoughtful, cogent reasons why so many of the proposed reforms won't work.

One might think that sportstalk radio might be more sympathetic to the traditional bowl system -- it gives everybody a chance to offer up unsolvable opinions about what is and what ought to be. That's the main function of sportstalk radio, right?


January 7th, 2010 at 5:00 PM ^

the BCS system in favor of a playoff for the obvious reason: money. In the current non-playoff system, the various universities and the conferences they belong to have all the control over how the money from post-season play is divvied up and distributed; the NCAA has absolutely no say in that. However, if playoffs are instituted, then the NCAA immediately steps in as the sanctioning body, and then the presidents/ADs/schools/conferences/bowls would lose their stranglehold on how the $$ are given out. The fact that a playoff system would in all likelihood result in huge revenue increases over the current system doesn't matter to them because of the perceived loss of control over the financial kitty.

One thing the schools have unwittingly allowed is the destruction of their argument that a playoff system would extend the season too long. When you have bowls and the national championship game being played a full week into January, the notion that the schools are tenderly looking after the interests of their kids is exposed for what it is: horseshit.


January 7th, 2010 at 5:07 PM ^

such as the hypothetical situation where small schools outvote big schools, I'm mostly certain that the university president is the actual voter.
Is there a reason that for these purposes there can't be a bicameral legislature which mirrors that of our own federal government?
That is, the university presidents would compose one body with equal representation (our Senate) and the second body is composed of more voters (administrators from the athletic department and university executive offices for balance of sports and academic interest, or maybe just weighted votes?) that are apportioned according to each school's overall "influence" on college football--maybe this is measured in some diabolical mishmash of TV contracts, winning history, academic rankings, tickets sold, and number of alumni.

Section 1

January 7th, 2010 at 5:33 PM ^

You could have a vote, giving priority to the biggest footbal schools (we'll call them "the BCS conferences," or "FBS schools") based on strength of schedule, computer rankings of head-to-head matchups, plus weighted balances for coaches and sportswriters polls, all compiled in a central comput... er, wait. I think I've heard that one.


January 7th, 2010 at 6:07 PM ^

Not a vote for rankings, a vote for things like whether or not we have playoffs. The speculation was meant to mitigate the problem of non-competitive schools having a say in where the money flows and getting an unearned payday. The mishmash was a way to create a rough equivalent to states getting representatives according to population.

Section 1

January 7th, 2010 at 5:36 PM ^

a year in which some good undefeated team gets left out?

Or a year like this year, in which the two clearly best and undefeated teams meet in a national championship game?


January 7th, 2010 at 6:27 PM ^

what the two best teams 'clearly' are? History? Legacy? Had Cincinnati or Boise State begun the season ranked ahead of Texas, they might not have relinquished their spot, either. That is, if the voters follow the same logic for BSU that they do for Texas - they don't drop if they don't lose.

Texas played, um, nobody all year long. As much as it pains me to say it, Alabama does appear to be the strongest team, on paper. But the best teams on paper aren't always the best teams - sometimes the paper is covered in, well, crap. And that crap is made up of stuff we ate previously (e.g. Texas is a strong team from a strong conference because, historically, they have been.

So saying the BCS was right this year ignores a whole heap of biases and injustices. It may be, but the mechanism by which it proves itself is inherently flawed.

MI Expat NY

January 7th, 2010 at 5:59 PM ^

small schools don't outnumber the powerhouses 5-1. In 1-A, just over half of the schools are in BCS conferences. There is, and wasn't, any reason to believe that the small schools could hijack the vote and redistribute all of the income.

Why exactly would a D-1A football playoff treat any of the big conferences worse than the D-1 basketball playoff?

Zone Left

January 7th, 2010 at 6:52 PM ^

I'm assuming the are advocating a system similar to the NCAA basketball tourney, which is divided into shares and then distributed based on the following:

he Division I Men's Basketball tournament is the only NCAA championship tournament (officially, the BCS Football Championship is not an NCAA event) where the NCAA does not keep the profits. Instead, the money from the multi-billion-dollar television contract is divided among the Division I basketball playing schools and conferences as follows:[17]

* 1/6 of the money goes directly to the schools based on how many sports they play (one "share" for each sport starting with 14, which is the minimum needed for Division I membership).
* 1/3 of the money goes directly to the schools based on how many scholarships they give out (one share for each of the first 50, two for each of the next 50, ten for each of the next 50, and 20 for each scholarship above 150).
* 1/2 of the money goes to the conferences based on how well they did in the six previous men's basketball tournaments (counting each year separately, one share for each team getting in, and one share for each win except in the Final Four and, prior to the 2008 tournament, the Play-in game). In 2007, based on the 2001 through 2006 tournaments, the Big East received over $14.85 million, while the eight conferences that did not win a first-round game in those six years received slightly more than $1 million each.[18]

This is from Wikipedia, but the link to the NCAA's site in the citation worked--it was just presented less conveniently. Assuming football is more valuable (which it is according to TV contracts), then the money probably wouldn't change or it would increase.