When this blog first started I wrote a piece about Iowa State’s upset of Oklahoma State that made the need for a playoff bracket at the highest level of college football ridiculously clear. To many fans of teams from the Football Bowl Subdivision the need for a playoff had been clear for many years as teams like 2009 Utah, 2010 TCU and three Boise State squads were snubbed from the BCS National Title Game. That being said, the Pac-12 and the Big 10 continued to object to any type of major change to the Rose Bowl (after all why would you mess with tradition?). However, protecting the Rose Bowl could only prevent the fall of the BCS for so long; eventually something was going to happen that would make it imperative to ditch the BCS and turn it towards a playoff.
That something happened during the 2011 season. That something was the fact that two SEC Teams made it into the National Championship Game, Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama. Now those two teams were by far the two best teams in the country, there is no doubt in my mind. But the average sports fan was agitated. How was it that the University of Alabama (who had already lost to LSU during the regular season and as a result they could not play for the SEC Championship) made it into the National Championship Game over Big 12 Conference Champion Oklahoma State?
The answer was simple Alabama was the better squad according to the computer models. Alabama throttled LSU in the National Championship Game and Oklahoma State lost a thriller to Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl. According to the transitive property Alabama was by far the best squad in the nation. But as most sports fans know the transitive property is pointless (Arizona State beat Mizzou and Washington State beat Arizona State, therefore WSU is better than Mizzou…. get my point?).
That being said, in my opinion the BCS computers actually got it right for the 2011 season. But the damage had already been done and it was time for the commissioners of BCS conferences to make a change. And that change has finally come, in the form of the “Final Four” format that was officially announced this week. After the jump I will discuss what we know for sure about the death of the BCS and some of the speculation surrounding the selection committee.
At the end of a season a selection committee will choose four teams. These teams will play in a semi-final at the stadiums of two current BCS Bowls (Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Cotton Bowl and Sugar Bowl). The National Championship game will be played after the semis (no duh) and the site will be where a city puts up an acceptable bid. Who determines where the Championship Game will be played, has yet to be determined.
College football has slowly been advancing to an acceptable solution for finding the National Champion for the last 80+ years. We went having from not even having a National Championship Game (1930-1997) to having the BCS and its National Title Game. Now that has fallen by the wayside as we look to this Semi-Final format. Bit by bit, step by step D1a (the FBS classification is probably going to disappear) marches to a true playoff bracket. But it is going to take time.
Throughout the year on I have made it eminently clear (through the radio show and Twitter) that I absolutely hated the BCS. The inclusion of the Coach’s Poll into the computer calculations was the wrong move. Coaches pay attention to the teams that from their conferences because that’s who they play the bulk of their games against. They don’t have time to look at and study the rest of the teams in the country. Therefore they are going to favor teams from their conference. This tilts a coach’s top 25 and distorts the actual result of the final Poll.
College Football fans worry that this conference bias is only going to get worse because now you are removing the cold calculating results based statistical analysis of the computers with members of a selection committee who are bound to have their own conference biases. Another concern about the selection committee is that it will be less transparent then the BCS computer models (how that is even possible I don’t know). Now one way to void the concern would to be set a clear standard that will be used by the committee and then release said standard to the public.
There are several ways to address these concerns. For the conference bias concerns that is another rather easy problem to solve. You have an equal number of representatives, from each D1a conference, in the committee. Then you have the committee use a clear set standards and requirements to decide what teams make it into the semi-finals.
That would be the logical way to make it fair. But why would the heads of the power conferences’ (who obstructed a playoff in the first place) do anything that was logical and fair?