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Special Feature


Commentary: Suggested Changes For BCS

by Dave Congrove
12/12/01

Q: How many members of the BCS does it take to screw a light bulb?
A: They screw light bulbs, too?

But seriously, folks - the BCS is far from being a laughing matter to some coaches and administrators. The folks at Oregon, in particular, have taken issue with its results to the extent that coach Mike Bellotti called the BCS a "cancer" and athletic director Bill Moos believes "there is an east coast bias against the PAC-10".

Colorado coach Gary Barnett was a little more grounded with his remarks. He was stating the obvious when he pondered the logic of having Nebraska compete for the national championship when they did not win their own conference.

I can fully empathize with their disappointment at not having a crack at the holy grail but let's not lose sight of the fact that all of the participating conferences agreed to go with the system. The rules were in place before the first football was teed up in August.

That said, I still believe some changes to need to be made. And one change that was made, needs to be undone.

Last Friday (12/7), USA Today asked for suggestions on how the BCS could be improved. (Playoff scenarios were supposedly off-limits). I emailed them a response but, alas, it was not among those printed in Tuesday's (12/11) cover story.

However, I felt I would print my letter here and at least share my thoughts with CFP visitors.

Unintentionally, the letter also serves as a follow-up to a commentary I penned back in October, "BCS Bashing Has Big Bandwagon".

I encourage you to read that piece before you proceed to the following letter, which I have admittedly refined a bit from its original form.

There are some steps that can easily be taken to improve the BCS ratings and reduce confusion at the same time.

As operator of College Football Poll.com and creator of the Congrove Computer Rankings, which I have been conducting for nine years, I constantly evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the BCS. I receive loads of email asking me specific questions regarding BCS Rankings issues, and have taken much time to consider the implications of my proposed solutions.

1. Eliminate SOS. Before you scream, "what?", hear me out. Every computer ranker and, for that matter, every individual voter, already considers strength of schedule. The BCS is not only being redundant, they are concocting their SOS number in the wrong fashion.

They use simple won-loss records as a measurement instead of the strength of the opponents. For instance, if a team played Middle Tennessee State (no knock on the Blue Raiders), they got credit for playing an 8-3 team. A different team that played Virginia Tech also got credit for playing an 8-3 team.

Problem? In the Congrove Computer Rankings, for example, MTSU has a power rating of 68.19. Virginia Tech's power rating is 92.23.

The BCS is comparing apples and oranges and calling them both apples.

2. Eliminate Quality Wins. This was wrongly implemented after last year's perceived debacle in not having Miami in the championship game. Quality Wins, again, is yet another redundancy of "strength of schedule".

3. Don't throw out the high and low computer scores. You have eight computers. Use them. Then simply average their results, just as you do the AP and Coaches Polls.

4. Better yet, throw out the AP and Coaches Polls. There isn't a single voter in either of those polls who can objectively rate all 117 teams. And now they are open to manipulation by those who are discontent with the computers. Did the coach who voted BYU #1 in the December 2 coaches poll honestly believe that was the best team in the land at the time? Nothing against BYU.

5. Finally, by benefit of hindsight, any team that does not even win its own conference should be ineligible for playing in the national championship, regardless of its rankings. Nothing against Nebraska.

Four of those five proposals are simple steps to implement. The suggestion of doing away with the AP and Coaches Polls is probably less realistic than having a fair playoff system devised.

In closing, the BCS may also want to consider hiring a qualified individual for public relations - someone who can speak intelligently from a football-related sense about the use of computers so that confused broadcast analysts and sportswriters can stop misinforming the public.

Of course, for some people, there is not a single thing you can do to stop them from having a good whine. Just hand them some cheese and crackers and move on.

Also See:
Whining About Whining About the BCS
Lack Of Quality Leadership Opens The BCS To Annual Controversy
BCS Bashing Has Big Bandwagon
Did BCS Do The Right Things With Its Changes?
Computer Rankings and National Titles