Justice in the BCS?

It isn’t computers but the human factor that is messing up the final BCS football rankings. To the human attention span, old losses do not count as much as recent losses. Poor Missouri was number 1 just a few days ago, but after losing to Oklahoma, they plummeted to number 6 and are completely out of all of the BCS bowls. Yes, they have two losses, but those were both to the same team! Meanwhile, arguably lesser teams with two worse losses got into the big bowls.

Can there be a playoff? These players are all college students, though it is easy to forget, and we have to consider finals, Christmas break, etc., etc., so the argument goes. But here is my solution: Make a shorter season to have room for a series of playoff bowls. This can be done by getting rid of the pre-conference powderpuff games at the beginning of the season. Play only the teams in your conference. Then have the winners of each conference play each other in a tournament set-up until only two are standing, to end it all on New Year’s Day. (With most teams ending their season in November, this would give most players much more time for finals!)

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Don, the Rebel without a Blog

    (Coach Mora) Playoffs? Are you kidding me? Playoffs? You want to talk about playoffs? Playoffs? (/Coach Mora)

  • Don, the Rebel without a Blog

    (Coach Mora) Playoffs? Are you kidding me? Playoffs? You want to talk about playoffs? Playoffs? (/Coach Mora)

  • Michael Benoit, Ph.D.

    I’ll advocate for schools that want to improve their status. I’m a University of Akron graduate. We have had the opportunity to play Ohio State (and lose) in the last couple of years. Though we lost, it gained the school some exposure (and revenue) and, because we played well against them, could make conference shuffling a possibility in the future. You’re idea sounds good, but could make for a static college football world.

  • Michael Benoit, Ph.D.

    I’ll advocate for schools that want to improve their status. I’m a University of Akron graduate. We have had the opportunity to play Ohio State (and lose) in the last couple of years. Though we lost, it gained the school some exposure (and revenue) and, because we played well against them, could make conference shuffling a possibility in the future. You’re idea sounds good, but could make for a static college football world.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    People keep talking playoff, but it is never going to happen. There is too much money in the bowl system for the schools to be willing to give up the bowls. Besides, scheduling powderpuffs can bite you ala Michigan/App. St.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    People keep talking playoff, but it is never going to happen. There is too much money in the bowl system for the schools to be willing to give up the bowls. Besides, scheduling powderpuffs can bite you ala Michigan/App. St.

  • Joe

    The non-conference games are important money makers for both schools. Wisconsin always plays Eastern Michigan and Central Illinois type teams and does so because they can demand a home game and 70% of the gate. Don’t feel to bad for the small schools their 30% of the gate is a ton of money for them. Wisconsin needs this revenue because only 2 programs generate excess revenue. Football and men’s basketball. Men’s hockey usually pays for itself but generates nothing extra and occasionally Women’s volleyball is self-supporting. Wisconsin is not allowed to use tuition dollars to pay for sports (or the amount is capped) so the revenue from the non-conference sleepers funds a large part of the athletic department. Without these money games, women’s sports (and less popular men’s sports) would have no funding and then there would be title 9 compliance issues.

  • Joe

    The non-conference games are important money makers for both schools. Wisconsin always plays Eastern Michigan and Central Illinois type teams and does so because they can demand a home game and 70% of the gate. Don’t feel to bad for the small schools their 30% of the gate is a ton of money for them. Wisconsin needs this revenue because only 2 programs generate excess revenue. Football and men’s basketball. Men’s hockey usually pays for itself but generates nothing extra and occasionally Women’s volleyball is self-supporting. Wisconsin is not allowed to use tuition dollars to pay for sports (or the amount is capped) so the revenue from the non-conference sleepers funds a large part of the athletic department. Without these money games, women’s sports (and less popular men’s sports) would have no funding and then there would be title 9 compliance issues.

  • PeteS

    Dr. Luther’s right as to why a playoff won’t happen. But there’s no real reason they couldn’t have a playoff if they wanted. As some writer (for ESPN?) pointed out, Division I football (or whatever they call it now) is the only sport at any level that DOESN’T have a tournament at the end of the year. The lesser NCAA football divisions have a tourney, so certainly Division I could if the powers that be want, but the love of money is the root of all kinds of bowl games.

  • PeteS

    Dr. Luther’s right as to why a playoff won’t happen. But there’s no real reason they couldn’t have a playoff if they wanted. As some writer (for ESPN?) pointed out, Division I football (or whatever they call it now) is the only sport at any level that DOESN’T have a tournament at the end of the year. The lesser NCAA football divisions have a tourney, so certainly Division I could if the powers that be want, but the love of money is the root of all kinds of bowl games.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Pr. Lehmann

    General observation about football, but perhaps more about the NFL.

    The records aren’t what they used to be. The records of the Packers and the Cowboys used to be more common and we now have division leaders barely over 500. It seems that the level of play has increased so that on any given day, any team can beat any other team.

    Overall… good for the game, but not good (this year) for a Bronco fan.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Pr. Lehmann

    General observation about football, but perhaps more about the NFL.

    The records aren’t what they used to be. The records of the Packers and the Cowboys used to be more common and we now have division leaders barely over 500. It seems that the level of play has increased so that on any given day, any team can beat any other team.

    Overall… good for the game, but not good (this year) for a Bronco fan.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Pr. Lehmann

    Oh, additional note:

    In some ways football is becoming more like baseball. ;-)

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Pr. Lehmann

    Oh, additional note:

    In some ways football is becoming more like baseball. ;-)

  • EconJeff

    They could keep the same schedules as now (minus 1-2 of the pre-conference games) and treat it like March Madness. Make it the top 32 teams (according to the BCS standings), and you would still have 5 weeks of football playoffs after the season ends. All the minor bowls would become the playoff bowls. There would still be upsets. You wouldn’t have the major upsets of an unranked team beating the number 2 team, but it would still be 31 games and 32 teams.

    As for education, the majority of student athletes (and I use the term student generously) would be done by finals.

  • EconJeff

    They could keep the same schedules as now (minus 1-2 of the pre-conference games) and treat it like March Madness. Make it the top 32 teams (according to the BCS standings), and you would still have 5 weeks of football playoffs after the season ends. All the minor bowls would become the playoff bowls. There would still be upsets. You wouldn’t have the major upsets of an unranked team beating the number 2 team, but it would still be 31 games and 32 teams.

    As for education, the majority of student athletes (and I use the term student generously) would be done by finals.

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    Do I detect some angst, Dr. Veith, as a graduate of the University of Oklahoma?

    None other than Barry Switzer opined that Oklahoma ought to be in the big game. And he’s certainly non-partisan, heheh.

    I’m just glad Wisconsin didn’t draw anyone tougher than Tennessee. They’ll have their hands full as it is.

    I would LOVE, at Thanksgiving, to be filling out my 32 team brackets for a playoff. The one hope I have that this may someday happen is the overwhelming popularity among fans of the 65 team March Craziness tournament. Maybe college presidents will see the dollars coming from that. The lesser bowls could even host the early games, why not? The major problem would be travel for the fans, I suppose.

    I think they ought to go the way of dog judging: one judge per year gets to decide who is the best of the breed. Of course, that person would then have to seek refuge in an Islamic country for all the death threats he/she’d get.

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    Do I detect some angst, Dr. Veith, as a graduate of the University of Oklahoma?

    None other than Barry Switzer opined that Oklahoma ought to be in the big game. And he’s certainly non-partisan, heheh.

    I’m just glad Wisconsin didn’t draw anyone tougher than Tennessee. They’ll have their hands full as it is.

    I would LOVE, at Thanksgiving, to be filling out my 32 team brackets for a playoff. The one hope I have that this may someday happen is the overwhelming popularity among fans of the 65 team March Craziness tournament. Maybe college presidents will see the dollars coming from that. The lesser bowls could even host the early games, why not? The major problem would be travel for the fans, I suppose.

    I think they ought to go the way of dog judging: one judge per year gets to decide who is the best of the breed. Of course, that person would then have to seek refuge in an Islamic country for all the death threats he/she’d get.

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert Talbert

    Shorter season + playoff system is how we do it here in Division III land. It’s a lot of fun, doesn’t interfere with the semester (any more than any other system), and provides a much more just measure of who’s #1. Of course, in DIII that’s always Mt. Union, but anyway.

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert Talbert

    Shorter season + playoff system is how we do it here in Division III land. It’s a lot of fun, doesn’t interfere with the semester (any more than any other system), and provides a much more just measure of who’s #1. Of course, in DIII that’s always Mt. Union, but anyway.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Dream on if you think that the sports networks and football schools will give up the revenues from the last couple of weeks of regular games, plus that from the bowl game morass, in exchange for seven or even fifteen playoff games. Dream on.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Dream on if you think that the sports networks and football schools will give up the revenues from the last couple of weeks of regular games, plus that from the bowl game morass, in exchange for seven or even fifteen playoff games. Dream on.


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