BCS banter (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday December 5, 2007 3:11PM; Updated: Wednesday December 5, 2007 6:13PM
Why won't the NCAA step in and determine how the national champion is crowned? They seem to control all other sports and sanction official national champs, why not Division I-A football?
That's a complicated one -- you might want to try reading a book about the subject. But I'll try my best.
Two key points you have to keep in mind: 1) While the NCAA does have a full-time staff in Indianapolis, its voting members are the schools themselves. 2) The college bowl game (first one: Rose Bowl, 1902) dates back farther than NCAA championships (first one: 1921 track and field).
As you know, the NCAA has never officially awarded a national championship at its highest level. Throughout history, the polls (AP and coaches) have crowned champions, not the NCAA. And the reason is, up until 1998, there was no national-championship game, just bowls. Technically, the BCS -- which is basically a coalition of conferences and bowl games -- has made no philosophical change to that century-old model. The Division I-A postseason is still essentially a set of independently operated bowl games; the BCS conferences have simply instituted a process by which the teams are selected to those bowls.
Any fundamental change to the postseason structure, such as a playoff, would have to be approved by the NCAA's members. As it stands now, the 66 schools that comprise the BCS conferences (and Notre Dame) represent a majority of the NCAA's Division I-A members. In order for the NCAA to "step in," as you say, first of all one of the conferences would have to introduce that as a piece of legislation, and then the members would have to approve it. Obviously, that aforementioned BCS majority opposes such a change. They are not going to voluntarily hand over control of a system in which they get to set all the rules and keep nearly all the revenue for themselves.
On another sports site, one writer stated "if the bowl results shake out a certain, bizarre way, we could even have a split championship" this year. Is that even possible? I thought the point of the BCS was to give us one (deserving or not) champion.
It's theoretically possible, as AP voters are still free to vote whatever team they want No. 1 (as they did in 2003 for USC), and there was a small window there late Saturday night -- when it seemed like things were slipping into utter chaos -- that I thought it might be possible this year. As it turned out, however, Ohio State and LSU wound up the consensus Nos. 1 and 2 teams in every poll. If, say, the BCS standings had deemed LSU No. 2 but the AP has tabbed Georgia No. 2, then you would have had the possibility of a split title if the Tigers and Dawgs both won. Now, that's going to be close to impossible, especially since the AP's next highest-rated teams (Oklahoma and Georgia) are playing significantly lower-ranked opponents in bowl games.
The one possible exception, of course, is Hawaii. If the Warriors were to beat Georgia in the Sugar Bowl and both Ohio State and Kansas were to lose their bowl games, we'd be looking at a situation where we have one 13-0 team that just beat the No. 4 team in the country ... and a bunch of two-loss teams. In that scenario, I would imagine there will be significant sentiment that the AP should give its title to the Warriors, and I would give it serious consideration. (I've already received countless e-mails espousing that Hawaii should be playing in the title game, a remarkable turnaround from just a few weeks ago, when the more common gripe was what an injustice it would be for the Warriors and their ultra-soft schedule to even play in one of the BCS bowls.)
Still, that would require AP voters jumping a team from No. 10 to No. 1, an unprecedented and unlikely occurrence.
Stewart, I've written every week with spell-checked, articulate, and relatively thought-provoking questions, and you never answered any of them. Here's your last chance: Since the BCS matchups are indeed horrendous, which teams would you have matched and why?
Well, since this is my "last chance," Carlos, it's a good thing I happened to come across your e-mail from amongst those 1,300 others.
Obviously, I'd like to see the next highest-ranked set of teams after Ohio State and LSU play each other. If we did it my way, only the higher-ranked team in each game would be protected in its "host" bowl, and I'd throw out the two-teams-per-conference limit to help ensure better games.
Using my current rankings, that would create something like this:
BCS Title: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 LSU
What would the bowl landscape look like if you placed the teams in pre-BCS bowls? Do you think it would be a better set of games for the voters to crown a national champion once the games were over?
Here's a rough stab at what the lineup might have looked like 20 years ago, using circa 1987 conference partners and using the "old school" AP poll:
Rose: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 6 USC
The end result is, you've got much more compelling matchups in the Rose and Orange bowls, but you're no closer to settling the issue of who's No. 1 because now the current No. 1 team is playing No. 6 instead of No. 2.