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Unfair to the Undefeated: A look at the BCS


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Unfair to the Undefeated: A look at the BCS


Alligator Writer

One undefeated team had absolutely no shot at winning a national championship.

Another team without a blemish on its record watched the Orange Bowl from home.

Welcome to the current state of college football, where a computer can determine which team walks away king of the NCAA.

Analyzed, scrutinized and even dismissed as "the BC-Mess," the always-debatable and controversial Bowl Championship Series has become a fixture on the college football landscape.

In theory - and in every other sport, both in college and in the professional leagues - the best team in the nation becomes evident and the season’s end becomes just that: the end.

But thanks to the BCS, once the bowl games are over, the real work begins.

This year was no exception.

Four teams went undefeated. Only two had an opportunity to play for the national championship.

Once again, the national title game left some fans unconvinced that the best team in the nation played for the title.

Auburn and Utah - two teams rarely discussed in the preseason - achieved just about everything a team can achieve.

Both teams, however, had to deal with the reality of finishing a season without a loss and without a shot at the title.

In only one sport can such an event occur, and demand for change in college football exists unlike in any other.


"The BCS was an attempt to match the top two-rated teams at a bowl location at season’s end without extending the length of the season," current BCS chairman Kevin Weiberg said.

That may have been the intent, but there hasn’t been a college football season that ended without controversy since 1999.

The problem is that more than two teams can finish undefeated, but the BCS hosts just one championship game.

Out of four undefeated teams, only Oklahoma and USC played for the national championship. A playoff format could have paired Auburn with USC after the Trojans crushed the Sooners in the Orange Bowl.

"One more game wouldn't hurt this year; it would almost solve all our problems," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "I've heard other coaches say it wouldn't work, but they're not standing in my shoes."


Whether one is for or against the BCS, there is no denying a single fact - in its seven-year existence, there have been three years where the system left many unhappy.

Since its inception, the BCS has been "tweaked" almost every year to try and correct ills.

Utah, a member of the Mountain West Conference, went undefeated this past season under the guidance of new UF coach Urban Meyer. Utah proved that a team does not have to belong to a powerhouse conference to be considered among the nation’s best.

But it appears that a team does have to be in a powerhouse conference to have a shot at a championship under the current BCS system.

Utah became the first non-BCS conference team to play in a major bowl game - but it was in the Fiesta Bowl against Pittsburgh.

One Utah coach, however, didn’t feel his team was slighted.

"You can talk all you want about the BCS," current UF wide receivers coach and former Utah coach Billy Gonzales said. "We were in a system where you had to bite and scratch just to get in at Utah. We were very appreciative to be where we were."

The most popular prescription for the situation is to simply replace the BCS with a playoff system.

The reasoning would be that teams on the field would decide who is truly No. 1, instead of writers and computers determining a champion.

Playoffs would satisfy many, but minor tweaks are more likely. The automatic birth for conference champions is one issue being debated in the April meetings by conference commissioners in the BCS. It has been suggested that coaches’ votes be made public so that biased votes made out of favoritism or spite could be spotted.


The BCS debate is definitely not a one-sided affair. Many argue that the current bowl system is just fine.

"The bowls are good for college football," UF Athletics Director Jeremy Foley said. "People forget that these games are for the players. Personally, I believe anything that hurts would be bad."

Those opposed to a playoff system cite that a postseason playoff is unnecessary because the regular season in college football is in essence a playoff.

"Playoffs are so far down the road," Foley said. "It might hurt the bowl system, and I think maybe we just need to tweak them."

There is also the argument that a playoff would take away from the quality of regular season games. Since making the postseason would be crucial, the regular season could become a secondary priority.


Although there are more questions than answers when it comes to the future of college football, one thing is certain: the BCS is not going anywhere soon.

The BCS recently agreed to a new television contract extension through 2010 for the networks to broadcast the current bowl games.

Still, some critics believe a playoff is possible.

"You can have the best of both worlds," AM 850 radio host Steve Russell said. "You can keep and incorporate the bowl games while still ensuring we get a consensus national championship matchup."

However, those running the show have dismissed this idea.

"I really do not see an NFL-style playoff coming to college football any time soon," Weiberg said.

One compromise being floated is a plus-one system.

Starting in 2006, one additional bowl will be added to the BCS lineup, making a total of five BCS bowl games. However, it is unclear whether this will be a true playoff game or merely an additional bowl game.

"Do we need to have one more game or to tweak how teams are selected?" Foley said. "Yes, but the current bowl system is good."

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive expressed regret over what happened to Auburn, but feels the system can work.

"Given what happened to Auburn this year," Slive said, "the plus-one system is an important next step to be seriously considered."

The camp that should be most passionate about this debate is Auburn. However, even they appear to be playing a politically correct role.

"I think it is a relatively good system," Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs said. "The BCS was created to solve a problem and it almost has. However, the last two years, if we had that one additional game, it would have cleared up a lot.

"I believe in keeping the bowl system intact, but having one additional game would be a wonderful opportunity for college athletics. With the current bowl system and with one more game, you will have a true national champion and that will be it."


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