This week, the BCS released their first rankings of the season. Oklahoma sits in the top spot, followed by Oregon, Boise State, Auburn and Texas Christian. And as usual, the rankings have led to a strong debate over the strength (or lack thereof) of the system.
Let’s skip over the subjective debates of where teams should be ranked and let’s instead look at some of the obvious systematic flaws in the system.
- Undefeated Missouri is ranked second in one computer poll and the top six of four other computer rankings. And yet, one computer doesn’t even have Mizzou in the top 25.
- One-loss Alabama, a team that some believe can still contend for the national title is ranked fouth in one computer poll and 20th in another.
- Oklahoma State is ranked between eight and 10 in six of the computer polls, but they are only 19th in the seventh. The computers are a unbiased look at the teams, but how is it possible that they can differ so much on their views of specific teams?
- Then take the case of Scott Wolf of the LA Daily News who may or may not have a bias against the Big 10.
- And then there is Boise State, who despite being ranked second in both the USA Today and Harris polls, only has a 10% shot at making the national title game.
In an interview on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports questioned the transparency of the system by noting (audio) that only one of the seven computers polls has released the formula behind their rankings. He also added that the people behind two of the computer rankings admit that their polls have better versions but the BCS does not allow margin of victory to be a factor in the formula.
In the end, too much money is at stake here. Last year, each of the BCS conferences received close to $20 million for participation in the BCS. The NCAA can’t have a system in place to distribute millions of dollars based on a system that depends on flawed formulas, biased writers and people voting for teams they have never even seen play.
By going with the BCS system, college football has lowered itself to the same level of gymnastics and figure skating in the sporting world. That is, Division I college football is nothing more than an artistic competition in which the gold medal will be given to the team that looks the prettiest when the most people are watching.
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