The first 10 weeks of the NCAA football season have been nothing less than spectacular. Every week we are treated to yet another marquee matchup between top-ranked teams, and every week the results shed doubt that the previous week’s rankings were right.
During the 2008 season, a top tier of football teams has emerged from the pack. The top five spots in the USA Today poll have been occupied by a total of 11 teams. Out of the 11 teams Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Missouri, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Texas, Texas Tech and USC not one has remained in the top five throughout the season.
Ironically, as the top 25 teams have become more repetitive, the top of the poll has become even less predictable. There have already been five different teams in the No. 1 spot, as opposed to only three by this point last season.
There is a simple reason why none of these 11 teams has been able to assert itself above the other 10, and that is because they are all playing against one another. Besides the difficult schedules they regularly play, all 11 teams have already played at least one of the other 10 teams this season.
Although the Bowl Championship Series consists of six conferences, the aforementioned 11 teams come from only four of those, with four teams from both the SEC and Big 12.
Here lies the fallacy of the BCS system. With so much power concentrated in the SEC and Big 12, the teams in those conferences face a considerably more difficult challenge in winning their respective conferences. Not to mention, both conferences force their top two teams to play a conference championship game that three of the other four conferences don’t have to play.
A huge flaw in the system is its complete dependency on what happens during the season. In theory, the National Championship system could work perfectly; unfortunately, that is seldom the case, and the BCS annually finds controversy.
There needs to be a system in which the top teams have incentive to play one another without ruining their BCS hopes.
Because of the BCS system’s heavy reliance on overall record, worse teams from inferior conferences are given better chances to make a BCS game. This flaw in the system allows for situations like last year’s Sugar Bowl, when Georgia (10-2) the second place team in the SEC demolished WAC champion Hawai’i (12-0), 41-10, in a game that wasn’t even as close as the lopsided score indicated.
Of course, this is not always the case. Boise State’s thrilling overtime upset of Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl would have never been possible without the current system; however, even after that crazy game ‘statue of liberty” and all you would be hard pressed to find someone who truly thought Boise State was a better team than Oklahoma.
This year, the most glaring example of potential injustice is Penn State. The Nittany Lions are quite possibly going to run the table, winning the Big Ten and earning a spot in the national championship game. But is that spot really earned? Penn State played an incredibly weak out-of-conference schedule, and (as OSU proved the past two years) the Big Ten has become a lesser conference. In addition, the lack of a conference championship game makes it considerably easier to remain undefeated. How is it good for college football if Penn State plays USC, or an SEC or Big 12 School in the National Championship and gets destroyed?
There is no clear solution to the BCS mess, but what is clear is that a change needs to be made. Even Barack Obama addressed the issue in his halftime interview with Chris Berman during Monday Night Football.
‘If you could change one thing in sports, what would that be?” Berman asked Obama.
‘I think it is about time that we had playoffs in college football. I am fed up with these computer rankings and this and that and the other,” the new President-elect told the country on the eve of the election. ‘Get eight teams… you got a playoff, decide on a national champion.”
Sounds good to me, Barack why not give the upper echelon of teams the chance to play each other for the national championship?
Starr’s column appears weekly. Starr is a member of the class of 2009.