Robert Klingsporn Social Issues in Sports

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Robert Klingsporn

Social Issues in Sports

Prof. Schmidt


BCS vs. Playoffs

As we may know, the NCAA division 1-A is different than all other sports in that it does not end its regular season with a playoff system to determine an overall champion. Instead, the two “best” teams are decided by a series of polls combined with various computer formulas to pick the two teams that are to play in the national championship and other various bowl games. In the new system that was recently installed, the Associated Press writers' poll, the coaches' poll and a combination of computer rankings each count for one-third of a team's overall BCS rankings among all the teams. The human polls now count for two-thirds of the formula, compared with one-quarter that was previously part of the system.

The history of the BCS goes back to 1998 when it was installed to crown a national champion while maintaining a bowl system that has been active for almost 100 years. Roy Kramer, the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, was the man that is responsible for today’s BCS. Roy Kramer has been seen as by many people in two different opinions, that he is great for how today BCS is structured to a more negative view based on how they think of the

BCS. The process to Kramer’s solution started in 1992 with the formation of the Bowl Coalition and still evolves today in the ever perfecting BCS. When the BCS was established in 1998, six conferences committed their programs to this new BCS system. The six conferences where the Big Ten, Pac-10, ACC, Big East, Big 12 and SEC. Before the 2004 season there were some conferences that had not joined the BCS yet. Before 2004 the teams that also joined up with the BCS were the Conference USA, Sun Belt, Mid-American, Mountain West, and Western Athletic conferences.

In an article by James Alder called BCS vs. Playoff System, he makes a list of pros and cons for the BCS and a playoff system. First off, for the BCS, some of the pros included; creates a playoff atmosphere throughout the season, uses the traditional college bowl games, and allows the National Champions to be crowned based on statistics and personal opinion. Some of the cons are produces a controversial champion as often as it produces an undisputed winner and smaller non-BCS conferences are at a disadvantage. On its counterpart, a playoff system, its pros include; decides the better team in head-to-head competition, would create a lot of interest and excitement in post-season play, and would eliminate, or at least limit, doubt or controversy. The cons include; would diminish the value of the regular season and an already-long season would have to be extended. These are all valid points that are made and could be understood on both sides.

Through my research, I have found peoples saying on many different sides of this issue. There are many people that are for the BCS system and make good arguments. There are those that are for a playoff system which also make great arguments. I am for a playoff system and agree with the arguments that these people make. As I was reading through some articles, I found a very funny article that I have to share. In an article on labeled, “BCS vs. playoff debate comes to Capitol Hill,” a man named Rep. Joe Barton from Texas made a good quote. Rep. Joe Barton called the Bowl Championship Series format unfair and perhaps took it one step further. Rep. Joe Barton stated, “You should either change your name to BES for Bowl Exhibition System or just drop the C and call it the BS system, because it is not about determining the championship on the field.” I thought that this was a good statement and also brought a laugh.

In the same article on I read another good piece that helps support my opinion of there being a playoff system. The article states, “President Obama is one of the proponents of a college football playoff. In an interview with ESPN in November, Obama said "I'm fed up with these computer rankings and this, that and the other. Get eight teams -- the top eight team’s right at the end. You got a playoff. Decide on a national champion." Obama said he's had just about enough of the Bowl Championship Series.” As you can see even the President of the United States of America is for a playoff system. I feel that a playoff system in college football is the right way to go. I feel that if a playoff system were installed that there would be no more disputes between the championship games. The playoffs would bring a

whole new level of excitement for the post season in college football. The overall fairness of the game would be at a better quality, meaning that if you look at high school football or professional football, you can see that the teams in the playoffs are the ones that earned it during the regular season. If you look at other sports and how they promote post season play, you see a huge increase of spectatorship of that specific sport. Take March Madness at an example, March Madness is promoted at an enormous level. You have NCAA March Madness games (video games), a huge television viewership, and never any disputes on who is the overall champion after it is all said and done. Some of the fights of the best team not being in the championship game have stories to back them. Take the University of Utah in 2003 and also again in 2008 and Boise State University in 2006, they were all undefeated football teams that did not make it to the national championship game while teams with one or more losses played for the national title.

As for the arguments on the BCS side there is a couple that I came across. Georgia head football coach Mark Richt stated that, “The whole season is a playoff system." In today’s BCS every game counts during the regular season. Teams know that they cannot take a single game off because with one lost could completely diminish there championship dreams. One loss and a team's post-season chances are diminished. This is a piece of ammunition the BCS side uses as an argument. I feel that this in fact does not help their cause at all. If you watch and great sports movie or hear any great Cinderella sports story, you don’t hear of a team that pulled it together in college football at the end to come back and win a national championship. I know

that they say that every game in the season is kind of a playoff system, but you don’t get the excitement that they are. You don’t go through the season routing for every single game as if it were a playoff game. By stating that the season is a form of the playoffs is a turn off for me. By having a playoff system you get those great sport stories of teams rising from the bottom to become national champions despite fighting through all their struggles. Also by saying that the regular season stays more popular than other sports because each games counts does make sense in a way, but it also doesn’t. Now I know that with the BCS system each game does matter quite considerably, but so would it if there were a playoff system. Just as my high school football coach would say before the first game every season, “Playoffs start today!” Teams must play well and end with good enough records to make it into the playoffs so therefore, the regular season would continue to be very popular. In the BCS system, if your team loses a couple games that completely takes them out of the championship talk. If your team is out of the championship talk then what’s the point of continued viewership. That is one counter argument that could be made in this debate.

Money is the main reason why I don’t feel that the governing bodies of NCAA football would change to a playoff system in the near future. As of right now they are making lots of money on the regular season and the BCS. To them it might be a bit of a gamble to make the switch to the playoff system. It states in an article on named BCS vs. Playoffs it states that, “The college football Athletic Directors and school Presidents know it would be a major payday to have a college football playoff, but they also understand that it would likely have a

devastating impact on their regular season television ratings.” With this comment it shows that money and television viewership is the main point of concern to making the switch.

As I have previously stated before, I feel that a playoff system would be better for college football rather than the BCS system that is in place now. My reasons for saying this are that the playoff system eliminates any dispute on the outcome of a champion, brings a whole new level of excitement to college football during the post-season, decides the better team in head-to-head competition, and promotes fair competition. In the 2007 Gallup poll 85% of college football fans supported changing to a playoff system. This shows that there is a large support for the change, but I feel that money is the only thing that is on the minds of the people in charge. I feel that in a way this is a corrupt train of thought. Money shouldn’t be the big picture here, sportsmanship and fair opportunity should be the highlight of this sport. You are giving people the tools they need to argue amongst one another on if their team should have been in the championship game. I think about Nebraska’s high school playoff system, I don’t see fighting among people about who won the championship. Our playoff system gives all the teams that were good enough to make it to post-season a fair opportunity to play good football and make it to that dreamed state championship. This, in my own opinion, is the only fair way to promote good competition and have a grand excitement brought back to the sport of football.

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