Tag Archives: BCS

Examining Ohio State Football’s National Title Claims

With the uniquely college football topic of claimed national titles in the news recently, I got to thinking about whether or not Ohio State football could or should give itself credit for more than the seven it lists in its official records. The result was this story at BuckeyeSports.com (below), but it is worth noting some of Ohio State’s best arguments for a potential national title fall outside this “To claim or not to claim?” debate because no one, legitimate or not, has tagged them No. 1.

Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes

I guess it just goes to show in the Bowl Alliance/BCS era, the problem shifted from being overlooked to more often simply left out.  Continue reading

Close the books on another college football season

So another season of college football is over. And what did we learn?

The SEC isn’t the only conference where teams can be made up of big, strong Southern athletes, although anyone who didn’t know that must be under 30 or have a very short memory.

Clemson runs out the clock on Ohio State.
Clemson runs out the clock on Ohio State.

That’s because Florida State cornered the market on dominance for more than a decade leading up to and through the beginning of the BCS era. Before SEC teams were getting the benefit of the doubt in the polls because of recent history, it was the Seminoles. And they earned their place at the top by taking the place of the Miami dynasty that went off the rails after a swaggering, successful decade of the ‘80s.

I am curious what Michigan State might have been able to do in the national championship game because of its defense – the same reason I stopped being curious about how Ohio State would fare on the same stage.  Continue reading

College Football Harris Voter: Big Ten teams lack speed to compete outside conference

This headline might be true, but more to the point it’s probably a poor way to decide if Baylor is better than Ohio State this season.

This shouldn’t need to be pointed out, but just in case: former NFL personnel man Gil Brandt writes Ohio State doesn’t have speed because 230-pound running back Carlos Hyde was caught from behind once. Meanwhile, he either ignores or forgets the Buckeyes had three  breakaway touchdown runs of 50-yards plus, including two by Hyde and one by quarterback Braxton Miller. Continue reading

Cus Words: Will BCS History Repeat?

This week’s column is up at BuckeyeSports.com, and it discusses the possibility Ohio State could be the first and last team to be left on the outside looking in by the BCS.

That is despite the landscape and the thinking being much different in 2013 than it was in 1998, and the change could end up hurting the Buckeyes in the end.

Wouldn’t that be something?

Scout.com: Cus Words: Will History Repeat?.

Ranking help Ohio State football needs to get into the BCS

Quickly now let’s rank by importance the BCS help the Ohio State needs in the second half of the football season: BCS national championship logo 2014 Rose Bowl

1. At least three of the foursome of Alabama, Oregon, Clemson and Florida State take losses. 

I don’t think the Buckeyes’ schedule is going to be strong enough on its own merits to get them into the title game ahead of any of those teams if they remain undefeated.

Stanford’s loss to Utah on Saturday was nice for Ohio State because it means Stanford could take out Oregon without being a serious threat to be ranked ahead of the Buckeyes. The winner of this Saturday’s Clemson-FSU clash is pretty much certain to be ranked ahead of Ohio State this time next week, but obviously there will still be a lot of season left to play. Perhaps the Buckeyes will benefit from both teams having historical out-of-conference rivals to deal with on the last week of the regular season, not to mention a tough potential matchup with Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game.  Continue reading

Ohio State Football Week 12: The Only One

Who better to rock us into Michigan week than Ohio’s Black Keys? We thought of a song of their most recent good album while looking at where the Buckeyes are and where they could be after another edition of the greatest rivalry in all of sports.

What we learned last week: Maybe there is something to be said simply for going undefeated in and of itself.

I had not really believed that before, but I’m inclined to reconsider after the Buckeyes pulled out another close one at Wisconsin and the rest of the top five endured another week of upheaval.

No, that does not mean I am going to make the case for them as Associated Press national champions, at least not yet. (Certainly not before Notre Dame loses as it seems to me from here the Fighting Irish have played a tougher schedule, but there will be plenty of time to examine that in December.)

But where does gettin’ er done rank in terms of valuing a sports team?

Continue reading

Urban Meyer’s Evolving Playoff Position

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer’s name was all over Twitter yesterday after he publicly questioned the practicality of adding another game to the ledger for teams in the national championship hunt.

Urban Meyer talks about the 2012 class

As Spencer Hall pointed out, Meyer was for a playoff before he was against it. That sent me back to the BCS Championship conference call in December 2006.

The head coach of Florida at the time, Meyer was a beneficiary that year of the backwards way the BCS works. His Gators were awarded a spot in the national championship game for lack of a better alternative, (and of course we know that eventually worked out pretty well for them and their coach*) but he still sounded like someone looking for a better way.

“I believe there’s an imperfect system,” he said then. “Everybody believes that. That’s just the way it is. It’s going to be imperfect again next year until at some point we figure out a way to determine it on the field.”

Continue reading

The Last Night The Regular Season Mattered

College football 2011: The year the regular season died, taking with it the last remotely defendable aspect of the current system for selecting a national champion.

The patient had been sick for quite a while, but not everyone noticed at first. It began exhibiting symptoms 20 years ago when a conference in the South decided to hold a championship game. The prognosis worsened with the creation of the Bowl Alliance and then the BCS, nods to the growing belief the regular season no longer was adequate for selecting a proper champion. By the time the last two holdovers took the plunge into the BCS then joined the CCG movement, the time for reading of the last rites became imminent. Pollsters signed the death warrant in December with the choice of a rematch between Alabama and LSU, and the Crimson Tide finished the job Monday night.

Someone voted LSU No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll, and I applaud that person. I would have done the same thing despite the Tigers’ lifeless loss to Alabama in the New Orleans. The dominating fashion in which the Crimson Tide won the game would give me some pause, but the overall body of work favors LSU.

Why does that matter? Because the only argument BCS defenders have against a playoff that had not been completely debunked is the suggestions it would reduce the meaning of the regular season.

Though I disagreed with that premise to begin with, I was willing to respect it and give it a little bit of credence until this year. No more. In 2011, we saw the entire season’s hype boil down to one game in early November. Then the result of that game was thrown out the window, so tell me why we should buy into the buildup of the next game of the century?

LSU has a better resume by far, having beaten seven teams that were ranked at the time they played, including two on the road and another at a neutral site. Alabama beat four, including two on the road. That is not counting the two games they played against each other since they were a wash, but I’m hard-pressed to say Alabama’s win was better than LSU’s considering one took place on the other team’s home field and the other did not. Yet such splitting of hairs is exactly what the BCS demands, thus leaving us no choice to conclude that the current system that claims to protect the integrity of the regular season actually gives more weight to a postseason game, and that turns everything the BCS defenders say inside out.

We’re told we have this sacred three-month period from the end of August to the first month of December that means more than anything else in sports, but when all is said and done what happens at that time is taken less into consideration than what happens when two teams play in the second week of January after a month off to heal and reconfigure themselves. And, for that matter, what happens at the end of the season often carries more weight than the beginning, another fact that complicates everything.

BCS defenders use much the same thing as a critique of tournaments while ignoring that somehow everyone came to the agreement some time ago that a playoff is the preferable way to determine a champion in every other sport at every other level of competition within the NCAA and just about everywhere else, yet now their system has undone everything that happened in the most recent regular season.

Does a postseason tournament guarantee the best team becomes the champion? No. Neither does what we have at the highest level of college football. That’s an impossible standard to set, but it remains a straw man of playoff opponents.

The bottom line is college football already has a postseason. The regular season already is devalued from the pre-BCS era because it created a half-assed championship chase that seems more tangible than the old one even though it’s really not much different at all. That has given fans something else to focus on as opposed to their traditional conference races and rivalry games.

If we’re going to have any type of postseason, it needs to come closer to including every team that has a legitimate claim to being No. 1. That does not mean it needs to reward nearly everyone who had a good season, as the NCAA basketball tournament does, but rather the champions of the top leagues and perhaps a wildcard from a lesser conference or the runner-up from another power league. We already did the latter this season, so it’s not as if that would set a precedent.

I like an eight- or 16-team playoff, but a plus-one with four teams would be considerable progress. Going undefeated in the regular season would still be the top way to guarantee a spot in the field, and even one loss would still create considerable jeopardy for anyone else, whether that means being left out altogether or having to go on the road in an early round or rounds.

Regular season games are already selectively significant, and the fact is most of the ones that end up costing teams are upsets that no one appreciated before they happened anyway. This would not really change if we expanded the postseason modestly, and such a move would also do little to hurt the bowls that already mean nothing anyway. The onus to have the bowls – for municipalities and TV networks to make money off of schools – would remain and likely provide motivation to keep the playoff small because so many people would still have somewhere to go even after losing more than one game in the regular season.

The time has come to get this done because the fantasy is over.

The regular season is dead.

A Case Against Those Against A College Football Playoff

I would say last week in college football news was a tempestuous one for mid-December, but when part of the arguments involve the BCS, I suppose that’s nothing extraordinary at all for this time of year.

I hate the idea that debate and discussion is part of what makes college football great. It’s not. That’s such a ridiculous notion that I’m not sure how it ever began to approach an accepted line of thinking.

Perhaps there was something cute about it when Nebraska and Penn State were arguing about rankings in 1994 or Miami and Washington split a national title not long before that, but once someone decided that picking a champion was serious enough business to have people play a game to decide it every year, the landscape changed.

Gordon Gee, Jim Delany and other playoff opponents like to throw out vague ideas about a slippery slope to professionalism or bracket creep when people ask them why they won’t let more teams have a chance to play for the national championship, but the fact is they are the ones who opened the door.

A four- or eight- or 32-team tournament would not begin that process. It started with the Bowl Coalition almost 20 years ago. That was when the people running the power conferences realized the value of deciding things on the field, and there is no going back.

Their decision to make a concerted effort to match the top two teams against each other every year was perhaps (or perhaps not) innocent enough, but it sent fans hurtling into a new world in which they don’t care about anything but a national title now that it is a more tangible goal. The supposedly sacred regular season died then, whether anyone noticed it at the time or not.

The regular season is not a playoff, especially when four of the major conferences don’t even have a round-robin schedule and there are no more than a handful of meaningful interconference matchups among the top teams in any given year.

I feel pretty comfortable in my ability to judge the relative strengths and weaknesses of a football team, but there really is no way to split hairs at the top with much certainty. And what certainty there is gets churned up and spit out by the month off teams take between the last regular season game and the championship, further complicating matters.

I thought the movement to emphasize resumes over style points beginning a few years ago was going to be a positive, but time has shown that often doesn’t solve much of anything. That’s especially true when more than one team is involved in the discussion. Figuring out that Florida played a far tougher schedule in 2006 than Michigan was easy enough, but it’s not always that cut and dried.

That is why I want to see a playoff that involves every BCS conference champion, perhaps with a minimum ranking required for qualification, depending on the size of the playoff. Sixteen is the perfect number for me as it would include every small conference champion and five at-large teams. That assures every unbeaten team, regardless of schedule strength, would make the field and it gives one-loss teams who played the toughest schedules a chance to redeem themselves for having the audacity to be off one day of the year or to test itself more times than the average team does.

I’ll settle for eight teams if that will placate enough people to make it a reality, but the whole “sanctity of the regular season” notion is misguided if you ask me.

I was reminded of this again Sunday every time I screamed at my television for showing me yet another Carson Palmer interception. Those errant passes were really only the difference between 2-11 and 3-9, so why should I care? Because I do. Because I like it when my team wins. They only play 16 games per year, you know, but I have to live all year with the fans of every other team around, so they might as well win as many of them as they can.

Thing is, football fans at all levels of the sport make a unique deal with their teams. The teams agree to play a scarce few times and fans pay them back by saving up all their energy to support them when they go out there. Football teams don’t put on a contest on the weekend when we’re glued to our TVs then come right back and play three more times in the next week when the drudgery of every-day life is more likely to interfere with our ability to concentrate on what they’re doing. Oh, sure, there are the occasional midweek games for most teams, but as long as they are only that – occasional – most fans of that team can go to the trouble of adjusting temporarily. That’s far easier than being free for 15 midweek college basketball games, although there are fans of that sport who do make a similar effort.

Of course, comparisons between the indoor game with the orange round ball and the outdoor game with the oblong brown one should be made only lightly, if at all. Fans become more passionate about football because of the scarcity of its games, but there are more fans of one sport than the other simply because it better appeals to our tastes. We like violence. We like strategy. We like passion. And we prefer to enjoy these things in an episodic manner like we do the television shows we consume with surprising voracity.

It all just works for football. Walter Camp’s game hit the jackpot. So I’m not sure where the idea comes from that anything could be lost by going to a playoff. I’ve yet to see any evidence that football’s current postseason enhances the enjoyment of football for its fans, yet I’ve heard plenty of people say it does lessen it.

No system guarantees we know which team is “best”, but the winner of any playoff is the champion, regardless of how many teams are involved, so while we used to vote for what team was “best,” now the BCS instead gives us a “champion” that may or may not be the best.

The latter is something anti-playoff people want to avoid, so maybe they don’t quite understand what they’re defending.

The problem with the BCS is two is pretty much the worst possible number for determining who should get the right to prove they’re “best” by playing to be the “champion”.

Two is a bad number because often there are more than two teams with similar resumes and supreme talent, and sometimes there is only one.

There is no perfect number, but to me selecting one too many teams is better than one too few.

I realize life is not fair, but I’m also motivated to see more teams involved as opposed to fewer because I happen to like college football and so the more games there are, the better.

Going into a season thinking Ohio State can probably afford to lose one game and stay in the national title hunt as opposed to feeling fairly confident they can’t but never being quite sure would not really affect my interest in each game at all. I promise to still want to watch when the top-rated teams play even if they are operating with a slightly more reliable net.

On the flip side, I think for the health of the sport, the quicker we end this “every game matters” charade the better before people start realizing what a farce the process is and lose interest.

While football’s inherent enjoyability will preserve its place among our most popular games, I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility to think the legions of casual fans could start to turn away, and those are really the only people who matter from a marketing standpoint, so appealing to them is really all the powers that be can be seen to be doing.

It’s nice to keep the rabid fans happy, but they are going to watch either way just like baseball fans can’t turn away despite its competitive imbalances, spoiled players and inconsistent umpires.

Yet the majority of rabid fans want a playoff, and a playoff would create more meaningful matchups to market to the casual fans who might stop watching the supposed “big” regular season games once they figure out every game really doesn’t matter, so why not expand this one-game playoff and make more money and more people happy?