BCS:Another system gone bad

Phil Consuegra

I think every sports fan in the United States has heard some sort of debate about the Bowl Championship Series. For those of you who have no idea what the BCS is, it was founded in 1998 in order to solve the NCAA college bowl selection problem. With co-champions every year and teams being “cheated” out of some bowl games because of journalist loyalty, college football needed a change of process. The BCS was the answer – or so some thought.That’s what we have come to today. Now, a computer, instead of journalists, prints out rankings and determines the bowl lineup for the four major bowls: the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Nokia Sugar Bowl, FedEx Orange Bowl and the Pasedena Rose Bowl. The top two teams go to the national championship game, which is selected between the major bowls.Today, the major conferences are “BCS Conferences:” the ACC, SEC, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10, Big 12 and, of course, good ol’ Notre Dame. With that in mind, it is possible that teams from another conference, such as the MAC or Conference USA, go undefeated and end up in the Continental Tire Bowl instead of a major bowl game. Just ask Tulane – after going 12-0 in 2000, they ended up in the Liberty Bowl, beating lowly BYU. That’s why the president of Tulane started the Coalition for Athletics Reform, a movement to end the BCS in its entirety in order to give smaller schools a shot at a major bowl. Heck, even Army or Navy couldn’t play for the national championship if they went undefeated – what a smack in the face. Even a Senate committee is thinking about declaring the BCS federally illegal – imagine that!But this year, it looks like those opponents of the BCS have found their savior in the form of a little team from Fort Worth, Texas. Texas Christian University has been perfect all year long, going 9-0, and it isn’t looking back. The remaining teams on their schedule, Cincinnati, SMU and Southern Mississippi, shouldn’t be too much trouble for the Horned Frogs. It is possible for a non-BCS team to actually crack the mold and get into a major bowl.But even if they go undefeated, TCU can’t play for the national championship due to strength of schedule, a factor that plays an enormous part in the selection. It’s probable that Oklahoma and Southern California will end up playing for the title; that’s fair. TCU couldn’t play with Oklahoma or USC. It wouldn’t have a realistic chance at beating a major conference’s champion in a big-time setting.But if it do go undefeated, TCU might get its shot. It is realistic that since they are in the top six; that they could go to the Fiesta Bowl as an at-large bid. The six conference champions automatically make the BCS, with two at-large bids rounding out the group. One of those at-large bids will go to TCU, assuming it remains in the top six.But conference championship games can make or break the BCS lineup. The SEC and the Big 12 will determine the representatives from each conference. Right now, No. 4 LSU stands to play one of three teams in the other division: Georgia, Florida or Tennessee. If a three-way tie occurs, the athletic directors of the schools not involved in the tie will vote for the representative from that division. That’s where it should get a bit interesting. Of course, LSU has to win out the season before that happens, and it still has to get through Eli Manning and Ole Miss, who is undefeated in the division as well. The good news for all you Bayou Bengals fans: they take on Ole Miss at home in Baton Rouge.Another interesting match-up will be for the Big 12 Championship, as No. 1 Oklahoma will put everything on the line against a conference foe, probably Nebraska. If Oklahoma loses that game, the title game will really be mixed up.But it is three weeks away until we finally know who makes the bowls, and there is still a lot to sort out. In the coming weeks, the national championship picture will be more clearly defined, and we’ll see if the BCS is legitimate or if it, like the past system, is just a joke.