This archived article was written by: Jeremy Jones
The Bowl Championship Series was instigated originally in 1998 in an attempt to remedy some of the problems that were existing in college football.
Before the BCS, the national champion was crowned at the end of the regular season based on a team’s record, strength of schedule, and some other factors.
One big problem with this system is that, in any given year, there are many unbeaten teams at the end of the year, all of which would be deserving a shot at the title.
This problem escalated in 1997 between the University of Michigan and the University of Nebraska.
Both teams ran over their opponents during the regular season. Throughout the season, Michigan and Nebraska swapped places in the poles, but one was always first and the other was second.
Michigan went on to win the Rose Bowl handily and Nebraska cleaned up in the Orange Bowl.
Both teams were worthy of the national title, but there was no way to tell who was really better because they never played each other.
Michigan and Nebraska were declared co-national champions that year, but there was a lot of trash talking in the media stemming from both sides.
Some way had to be created to match number one against number two in order to decide the real champion.
Beginning in 1998, the Bowl Championship Series was instigated to do just that, match number one against number two in a major bowl to determine the best in the country.
So, problem solved, right? Number one will always play number two and we’ll get a champion. It seems simple enough, but there’s more to it than that.
One of the main flaws in the BCS is that there are 11 division one conferences in the country, but only six of them are eligible for the BCS. The other five conferences plus any independent teams cannot be included. Why not?
Some people will remember and others have heard about the national championship of 1984.
BYU, a member of the Western Athletic Conference at that time, went into the Holiday Bowl undefeated and ranked fourth in the country.
They played the University of Michigan, who was a dismal 6-5 at that time. BYU won the game on an amazing, last-second touchdown pass by a score of 24-17.
But the real controversy stems from other games that happened that same weekend. The three teams ranked ahead of BYU at that time, Washington, Florida and Nebraska, all played in their own bowl games, and they all lost.
So, left as the only unbeaten team in the country, BYU was crowned the national champion. In essence, they beat a 6-5 team for the title.
While, in retrospect, BYU’s championship was somewhat of a fluke, an incredible turn of events like this will never happen again under the BCS system because teams like BYU, currently in the Mountain West Conference, are not even eligible to win the title.
A lot of the excitement of the college basketball tournament stems from that very excitement. The worst team in the tournament is on the same level as the best. They all have a chance to win.
Given that a number sixteen seed has never beat a number one seed in the history of “March Madness,” it is still, and always will be, possible. Yet, in college football, that excitement is gone, and, under this system, gone forever. Only the biggest schools in the biggest conferences can even compete for the national title. Again, I ask, why?
Currently, there are two teams that are undefeated that do not belong to BCS eligible conferences.
From Conference USA, the TCU Horned Frogs are 5-0 now, including a win over a PAC 10 school (BCS eligible) on the road. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to play in one of the BCS bowl games, assuming they continue to win?
Northern Illinois is doomed to a similar fate if they continue to win. They are the leaders of the Mid-American Conference currently at 5-0.
The Huskies have recorded wins against Maryland, Alabama, and Iowa State, all of which are BCS eligible teams.
The Mid-American Conference as a whole has been making a statement that they deserve to be in the running for the title just as much as the bigger schools do.
On September 20, the University of Toledo beat number 11 Pittsburgh 35-31, and Marshall beat number six Kansas State 27-21.
Earlier in the season, Bowling Green knocked off number 20 Purdue at Purdue 27-26. Why this conference is not eligible for the BCS after beating many teams that are is beyond me.
Likewise, the Mountain West Conference has strong teams that are ineligible for the national title.
The University of Utah knocked off number 22 Oregon (from the PAC 10, a BCS eligible team) 17-13 last Friday, giving the Ducks their second loss of the season.
The Utes have only lost once so far and it was to Texas A&M at Texas A&M by two points.
Why they wouldn’t be eligible to play in a big bowl game also escapes me.
I am not trying to talk down the bigger schools in anyway.
Right now, the University of Oklahoma is number one and Miami is number two. If neither of those two teams loses the whole season, then, yes, they deserve to be in the national title game. The point is, what if they do lose? Why shouldn’t a team that hasn’t lost all year get a shot at winning it all? Isn’t that a form of discrimination?
It is obvious to myself and other critics of the BCS that a playoff system would make the most sense in college football.
But even if the NCAA stays with the BCS, shouldn’t every team get a chance to win?
That’s really what it’s all about, winning. So, give them a chance.