There might be no more hated organization in sports than the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) that was created by college football in 1998 to address its fundamental flaw of having only eight match-ups of the #1 vs. #2 teams in bowl game from 1942 to 1998. Many of the detractors of the BCS point to an untried "playoff" type system in college football which might also work well. But let's explore both that hypothetical and unproven system next to the BCS- as well as the system the BCS replaced.
Prior to the BCS forming, the Rose Bowl traditionally played host to the Champions of the PAC 10 and the Big 10 conferences. This year, that match-up would have led to #2 Oregon facing #5 Wisconsin. Meanwhile #1 Auburn would have likely faced #3 TCU or #6 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, depending on which school the Sugar Bowl secured. The likely outcome of those games without a slip up by Auburn or Oregon would have been another split national championship with nothing decided on the field of play.
On the other hand, let's explore what this season would look like with an eight team playoff. Assuming the first rounds were held at home, with the semifinals and national championship held at neutral sites at a traditional bowl this is what we would be looking at:
(8) Arkansas at (1) Auburn
plays the winner of
(5) Wisconsin at (4) Stanford
(6) Ohio State at (3) TCU
plays the winner of
(7) Oklahoma at (2) Oregon
How is this outcome superior to the BCS? Auburn and Arkansas already played this season- and Auburn won. The controversy of who qualifies for the BCS Championship Game today would shift to which teams qualify for the final playoff slots. Why should Wisconsin (11-1) and Ohio State (11-1) get road playoff games for a chance to move into position for a national championship when their co-conference champion Michigan State (11-1) wouldn't qualify for the playoffs as the #9 team in the country? Why does PAC-10 runner up Stanford deserve a potential shot at Auburn in a semi-final game to move into a potential national championship against Oregon that already defeated them?
What this season once again shows is despite all of the complaints and teeth-gnashing about the BCS each year, the system continues to work and provide the best possible outcome. This year the two teams that deserve to play for a national championship are Auburn and Oregon and they both will get that opportunity. So while sports fans may complain about the BCS 364 days a year, this ought to be the one day we can thank them for once again giving us a real national championship game.
Thank You BCS.
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