Inception in Its Present Form in 1998 Essay

Pages: 5 (1736 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sports

¶ … inception in its present form in 1998, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) has been used to select the national champion in college football. The BCS is made up of the six big conferences in NCAA Div-I, and the five other Div-I conferences are also eligible for the series. The BCS runs four bowl games - the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Sugar Bowl - as well as the BCS Championship Game. The latter was launched in 2006. Since 1998, the BCS has been based on the premise that one of its bowls would be used to pit the top two teams in the nation against each other for the national championship. This used to rotate amongst the bowls, but now the BCS Championship Bowl is used for that purpose. The rankings are based on the Harris Interactive Collegiate Poll, the Coaches' Poll and computer rankings. The BCS has traditionally used a complex set of criteria to determine which teams play in which games, but that has not averted controversy. On more than one occasion, teams were ruled out of the championship game despite having championship credentials. When faced with such decisions, the BCS selection committee places weight on the rankings, which in turn are influenced by the Coaches' Poll. The selection committee also weighs in the views of the individual bowl committees, who each have a seat on the BCS, and of the television networks, whose rights dollars finance the BCS. The system is still fairly young, and has been subject to constant tinkering in order to improve the selection process. This tinkering has been guided in part by some of the controversies that we have seen. It is my opinion that the process is in need of further change. The opponents of change are not meeting the needs of fans, the players, and quite frankly the system is still young, meaning the refinement process should not be considered finished until these needs are met. The BCS should improve the way in which they determine a playoff system, instead of having the coaches decide.

TOPIC: Essay on Inception in Its Present Form in 1998, Assignment

There is considerable resistance to changing the BCS system. The television networks, for example, prefer a system that guarantees big schools the opportunity to play in the BCS games. Ratings are much lower for games that involve smaller schools, such as Boise State or Hawai'i, both of whom competed in BCS games in recent years. There is also opposition within the ranks of the colleges themselves. Following the BCS Championship Game in New Orleans, Michael Adams, the chairman of the NCAA Executive Committee, recommended that college football adopt a playoff among the top eight teams. The recommendation was essentially ignored by the commissioners of the BCS conferences. There is also an emotional appeal to changing the BCS system. A recent poll found that three-quarters of fans want a playoff. The BCS system has seldom been able to clearly identify the absolute two best teams in college football. In 2002, there were two undefeated teams, but that year was an exception and there is almost always a controversy. Fans want to see a playoff to eliminate that controversy. Non-BCS teams do as well - they have never been invited to the BCS title game and with the "strong schedule" bonus points, they likely never will. This has an impact on their recruiting abilities and consequently their ability to build their program and bring in more money. Fans have a need for a true national championship game, a Final Four or some system that eliminates all controversy from the question of which team in the national football champion. From a business perspective, many of the schools do as well, but their efforts are being hampered by the heads of the BCS schools, because any change would reduce the value of the cash cow that they currently enjoy.

The BCS system is heavily weighted to schools in the big conferences. This represents a detriment to the other schools, and can result in athletes leaving those schools early to join the professional ranks. Hawai'i lost two of its receivers following its bowl game success, as they felt that the program would not be as good the following year and would therefore hurt their draft status. Neither of these players, Davone Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullen left college early because the BCS system essentially told them their draft status had peaked. The result is that neither player finished their degree. Bess has found work with the Miami Dolphins, but Grice-Mullen was cut by Chicago. A more equitable system may have encouraged such players to stay, but under the current system anything a non-BCS school like Hawai'i needs to have an exceptional year for its players to be noticed. College football players are becoming physically mature, but may not be emotionally mature. When the prospect of an NFL draft selection is dangled in front of a player who is unlikely to appear in a BCS bowl game, it represents a powerful temptation. So in that way, the BCS system encourages some players to leave school early, to their detriment. The flaws in the BCS system have also been debated in Congress. A congressional committee gathered in 2005 to examine the BCS system, because its flaws were so glaring. "Too often college football ends in sniping and controversy," said committee chairman Joe Barton, "'s a billion dollar business that Congress cannot ignore."

In reality, the BCS system is just coming of age. The system has, in its short life, undergone several changes, including the introduction of the fifth bowl game. The transformation process is ongoing. Fox, the network with the BCS rights, had examined the structure of the BCS to try to make it better in the past, but has now given that up. Change is believed to be most possible after the ABC deal with the Rose Bowl expires in 2014. The BCS schools are feeling pressures to change the system because consensus about the top teams seems near impossible to achieve. That consensus, however, was one of the main reasons that BCS was developed in the first place. Because of the contractual obligations involved, adjustments to BCS will have to be made piecemeal. A recent proposal in early 2008 by SEC's Mike Slive was to move to a "four-plus-one" model, essentially a seeded four team tournament.

The proposal was dead on arrival at the BCS meetings in Florida. With the television contract sealed until 2014, change will be slow. However, there can be adjustments to the system as it stands right now. The computer weightings, perhaps the most contentious, can be reduced or eliminated. Increased value could be shown to being undefeated, rather than the heavy weighting on schedule strength. There are any number of ways to adjust the current scoring and weighting system, so that the best teams truly are represented in the BCS championship game. As an example, in 2003 there were three undefeated teams. USC was left out of the national championship game based on schedule strength, despite being number one in the AP poll. The apparently low value of the AP poll led to AP removing itself from BCS rankings. The next year, four teams went undefeated, and Auburn was left out of the title game. This was after changes had been made to the system in the wake of the USC debacle.

Ultimately, the BCS system is still evolving. The system is only ten years old, and the pace of change in college football is notoriously slow. The controversies that we have seen since the adoption of BCS are a clear indication that change is needed. The fans want to see a playoff, and nobody wants to see an undefeated team left without a chance at the national title. There is significant resistance that must be overcome, however. The conference heads and television executives who control the BCS make a lot of money from the current system. But it is a system that hurts player development by encouraging players to leave school early, at a time when they are not emotionally mature enough to make that decision. It is a system that angers fans, whose teams are unfairly left out of title or bowl games. The fans do not understand the necessity of the current system and are in favor of a playoff or otherwise more equitable system. It is a system that frustrates the small schools, as they are left out of the funding formula and therefore have difficulty in recruiting top high school talent. They cannot improve their programs under the BSC system and will never have the opportunity to compete for a national championship. Whatever one thinks about changing the BCS, there will be no stopping the people who believe that something must be done to improve the way in which the playoff system has been decided in the past. I suggest anyone who feels that this system be changed write letters to your senator and congressperson, and to sports… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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