Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Best of Both Worlds

Two years ago, I outlined a bowl/national championship plan that resulted in both a real title game and reinstated the importance of the traditional big January 1 bowls. The worst thing about the BCS is that it basically neutered all the great major bowls outside of the "championship game" bowl, and since 2006, neutered ALL of the major bowls. The BCS turned the grand old Cotton Bowl into an older Insight Bowl for all intents and purposes. The BCS turned the Orange Bowl into (a usually disappointing) ACC champion vs. least appealing at-large "BCS" team showcase.

To wit, here's a breakdown of the number of times each traditional "major" bowl had a realistic say in the title picture from the 13 years pre-BCS (1985-97) vs. the 13 BCS years to date (1998-2010):

COTTON - 1985, 1990, 1993
FIESTA - 1986, 1988, 1995
ORANGE - 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990*, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1997,
ROSE - 1991, 1994, 1997
SUGAR - 1985, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1996
*UPI/coaches champ Georgia Tech played in the Citrus Bowl that year, while AP champion Colorado won the Orange

COTTON- none
FIESTA- 1998, 2002
ORANGE- 2000, 2004
ROSE- 2001, 2003, 2005
SUGAR- 1999, 2003

As we all know, since 2006 we've had an extra game - not a "plus-one", just an extra game - creatively called the "BCS Championship Game", held on a rotating basis in one of the cities that also host another BCS bowl which is bizarre and renders the host BCS bowl totally irrelevant and almost an afterthought.

For those that don't want to refer to the entire plan I outlined many moons ago, here's the gist with some tweaks:

1- We play five major bowls on Jan. 1 (two games) and Jan. 2 (three games) - Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, Sugar, Rose
2- Each BCS conference has an auotbid for it's champ (Cotton- Big East, Fiesta- Big XII, Orange- ACC, Sugar- SEC, Rose- Pac 10 vs. Big 10)
3- That leaves 4 at large-spots, which are chosen based on the 4 highest ranked available teams in the final regular season BCS poll; the only rules are no rematches, and a champion of a non-BCS conference ranked #8 or higher must get selected.
4- The bowls (except Rose) select at-large placements based on the BCS ranking of the host team, like seeding in a playoff (i.e. a #1 Oklahoma would play the lowest ranked of the 4 at-large opponents in the Fiesta, a #2 Alabama would play the second lowest ranked at large team in the Sugar, etc, etc) as long as they don't violate the rematch rule.
5- After the Five Bowls, run the BCS poll again on the morning of Jan.3; #1 and #2 then play the next Friday night (7 to 13 days after the Jan. 2 bowls) in the BCS Championship Game - held in a different warmish-weather city (or northern dome city) each year that doesn't also host a BCS bowl (i.e. Tampa, Atlanta, Nashville, Houston, San Diego, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, St. Louis)

No, my plan is not a playoff, but it still gives you a 1-vs-2 game, there are no 37-day layoffs between end of regular season and national title game, and it makes the major bowls actually matter again.

Let's see how the plan would have played out this year. Here were your final BCS regular season standings:

1-Auburn (SEC champ)
2-Oregon (Pac 10 champ)
3-TCU (at-large, Mtn West champ)
4-Stanford (at-large)
5-Wisconsin (Big 10 champ)
6-Ohio State (at-large, co-Big 10 champ)
7-Oklahoma (Big XII champ)
8-Arkansas (at-large)
9-Michigan State (at-large, co-Big 10 champ)
10-Boise State (at-large, WAC champ)
13-Virginia Tech (ACC champ)
NR-Connecticut (Big East champ)

And here is how the bowls would have looked:

SUGAR- Auburn (#1-SEC Champ) vs. Ohio State (3rd highest at large; 4th highest at-large Arkansas violates the rematch rule)
ROSE- Oregon (#2-Pac 10 champ) vs. Wisconsin (#5-Big 10 champ)
FIESTA- Oklahoma (#7-Big XII champ) vs. Arkansas (4th highest at-large)
ORANGE- Virginia Tech (#13-ACC champ) vs. Stanford (2nd highest at-large)
COTTON- Connecticut (unranked Big East champ) vs. TCU (highest ranked at-large)

So, we have four great matchups and a layup for TCU. The Orange matchup did happen in reality. But with my plan the game actually meant something, with Stanford playing for a shot at the title game if one or more of Auburn, Oregon, TCU lost. My proposed Fiesta is better than the real one by a mile. My proposed Sugar is better than the real one. My proposed Rose is what the Big 10 and Pac 10 want all-along and it's just as good a matchup as the real one. The only game that is worse than the real one is the Cotton, but in my plan the Cotton is a BCS bowl with the subsequent big payout. And TCU would've been playing for a shot at the title if Auburn and/or Oregon lost their bowl, whereas in their Rose Bowl win this year they knew they had no chance to win the national championship. So with my plan, 4 of the 5 BCS bowls would have had a say in the national title picture while the 5th was just a great matchup (Oklahoma-Arkansas) that was better than the actual one that occurred (Oklahoma-UConn).

Yes, there could still be controversy; if Auburn, Oregon, TCU all won their hypothetical bowl matchups, TCU would still have been left out. So at worst we still would have had the same BCS national title game that we had a week ago, only with my plan the BCS bowls either had better matchups and/or meant something in the national title race. With the ACCFR plan, we get our title game and we get our meaningful big bowls back.


Anonymous said...

Glad you have returned. Your voice was sorely missed amongst all the ACC bashers out there. Regrettably it is kinda' like shooting fish in a barrel for that crowd but you have always put things in perspective and it's nice to see you doing so again.

Marcus said...

Thanks much. I hope to be a bit more active here in 2011; no promises since life and work intrude, well, all the time. But I sincerely appreciate the kind words.

Unknown said...

I agree that the BCS has messed up a lot of things (at least I think that's what you're saying).
That being said, I still have plans to be in Tampa in December with Outback Bowl tickets. I think it's going to be a fun time!

Kyle said...

The Clemson Tigers are a team to watch with Robert Nkemdiche! Sick highlight video of Nkemdiche at