A Picture tells a thousand combinations !
Imagine a competition whereby win loss records are secondary and your position in the league is determined by a computer which tries to compute the strength of whom you played and who you lost to and by how much. Welcome to the world of college football in the USA.
Possibly one of the most controversial and heavily debated sports in the USA the aim is to be one of the two teams that play off in the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) final come early January.
This season has proved how fallible this system is with debate over who the actual no.1 team is. Going into last weekend here were three unbeaten teams. At the start of the day the top 3 read like this:
No. 1 Kansas State,
No. 2 Oregon
No. 3 Notre Dame.
Kansas State and Oregon both lost whilst Notre Dame had a win. The next day the top three looked like this:
No 1 Notre Dame,
No. 2 Alabama
No. 3 Georgia.
What you may ask? Where are last week’s No.’s 1 and 2? The answers are now 6 and 5 respectively. And here is where the system is flawed.
The BCS system was introduced in 1998 and is a combination of both computers and polls of coaches and the press who determine which two teams will play for the National Championship at the end of the season. The first BCS Championship Game was played at the conclusion of the 1998 college football season and the expanded format was called the Bowl Championship Series.
The American college football is the only college sport without an end of season tournament to determine a champion.
Always subjective, always controversial there is always never a clear opinion that the two best teams have made the final.
Take this season. Unfancied and unloved Kansas State play in a once competitive Big 12 league that is weaker now with Missouri and Texas A&M both leaving for stronger SEC (Southeastern Conference) division.
Kansas State plays in a small college town in the heartland of Kansas called Manhattan and are supported by a rural crowd from neighbouring small towns. Well coached they don’t have the attraction to recruit star players to football scholarships.
Meanwhile Oregon play in Eugene, Oregon – State home if Nike – and not only look the part (with a new jersey style on a weekly basis) they are deemed to be a star power place to play football.
Notre Dame is another powerhouse, however has fallen over recent years, and is deemed to be in a rebuilding phase (although their no.1 ranking defies this).Based in Notre Dame Indiana they have the financial clout and pedigree to attract some of the best and play as an independent in terms of conferences as they pick who they want play each season schedule wise. Their TV ratings are massive and their home games are always televised nationally in the USA via NBC.
All these teams were unbeaten going into last weekend all having played a combination of divisional and non divisional (weaker in most cases) opponents (and never each other)
Having teams like Kansas State sitting among the top tier does not always bode well amongst some of the more traditional sports media as that is where it all counts – in ratings. It is always best for mass market media that the traditional and most supported teams see themselves at the top of the standings.
After a lot of peer pressure the NCAA will bring in a top four playoff system in 2014 to determine a final. Although a slight improvement there are still flaws. If the season stopped now both teams ranked no. 1 and 2 from the previous week would not make the playoffs
Barack Obama even used his pre election ESPN interview to say that four teams are not enough. (Scroll to 1 minute into interview). Even he cannot pass a law to change it.
So back to the weekend and how this seismic movement occurred.
Kansas State lost by 28 points to a team that had a losing record and had lost 5 games already this season and had only had one divisional wins against weaker opposition. Oregon lost at home to Stanford who was a 21 point underdog. Both losses were seen as being bad enough not to warrant a top 3 place this week Alabama in beating a non division no name team by 49 points seemed to be enough to take them from 4 to 2.
With only one regular season round of games left there is a lot to play for – everything is dependent on other results as well as your own. After that a team’s rank will determine what other end of season irrelevant Bowl game you play in which again is really only a TV ratings exercise…..oh and some prize money.
Does this all make logical sense? Thought so.