The BCS Comes Crashing Down and Is Replaced With A 4-Team Postseason Playoff Beginning In 2014 – The Berlin Wall’s Demise In 1989 Comes To Mind and Reminds Us That There Is Still Much Work To Do To Make This 4-Team Postseason Playoff for Major College Football A Big Success – Looking Back at the Past 14 Seasons of the Bogus and Un-American BCS We Unfortunately Missed and Lost To History Forever What Could Have Been Some of the Greatest Games In College Football History IF Only The 4-Team Postseason Playoff Had Been In Place – The TV Deal For This New Postseason Playoff Needs To Be A Great One
There were a lot of great columns written if the aftermath of the positive decision of the university presidents to move to a 4-Team Postseason Playoff in Major College Football…
…and there is a lot to be said for the BIG step forward taken by the conference commissioners and presidents to bring some sanity and American Common Sense to the Major College Football Postseason…BUT…there is still a lot of work to be done in the coming months to nail down the details of the selection committee and for the folks charged with running college football to cut the best TV deal possible that will ensure that as millions more fans both here in America and around the world become fans of college football due to this new postseason playoff format that the TV networks/cable channels are paying the appropriate amount of money for what will become one of the biggest and most successful events in American sports along with the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA Playoffs, the NCAA Basketball Tournament, The Masters and the Olympics.
The Bottom-Line is that even though a lot of very good work has been done there is still much work to do and a few of us here at Coaches Hot Seat upon watching and reading about the meeting in Washington DC by the university presidents to institute a Postseason Playoff in Major College Football and to put an end to the Bogus and Un-American BCS were reminded of what our then Commanding Officer in the US military said to us in the aftermath of the Berlin Wall falling on November 9, 1989 in his morning briefing:
“The Berlin Wall is down. Germany is headed for reunification. The Soviet Union is headed for the trash-heap of history and in the short-term the world just became much more unpredictable and thus more dangerous place. Let’s get to work.”
More than 20 years later there is still a lot of work to be done to reshape the world so that People everywhere can enjoy the Principles that the American Republic was founded upon…Freedom, Liberty and Self-Determination…and the current “Elected Leaders” of OUR country could learn a lot from people like Ronald Reagan who stuck steadfast to certain unbendable principles that unfortunately we don’t hear much about anymore from Washington DC.
June 12, 1987 – Ronald Reagan declares “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall.”
November 9, 1989 – Berlin Wall is torn down…..by the German People and Lovers of Freedom and Liberty from all over the world
Likewise, there is still much to do to make this 4-Team Postseason Playoff a success starting with a strong selection committee that will itself be guided by American Common Sense as they get together at the end of each college football season beginning in 2014 to determine the 4 teams and seeding for the Postseason Playoff.
It seems to us that a Selection Committee for Major College Football similar in format and structure to the NCAA Basketball Tournament makes a lot of sense and like the basketball committee we think that the committee members should be tasked to follow college football very closely throughout the season and lean-on ALL the human and computer polls that are produced throughout the year and as the regular season and conference championship games build to a crescendo it will be readily apparent to the college football selection committee members and to everyone in the general public who the best 4 to 6 teams in the country are and it will then be up to the Committee to make the tough decisions and stand by their decisions just as the NCAA Basketball Committee does each year.
One thing that we have heard said a number of times in the last few days is that a Selection Committee to pick 4 teams for a Postseason Playoff in Major College Football will not be without controversy to which we can only say….
NO SH_T SHERLOCK!
….and if Americans ever DID NOT do something because it might be “controversial” then the American Republic would not exist today which make only makes us wonder if American History is still being taught in our high schools and universities.
Another thing we have heard from a few very misguided folks on TV and elsewhere is that the BCS has in the past “almost always got it right” to which we can only say…
Please Get a FREAKING CLUE!
The great thing about history in this overloaded information age is that you can check history and the FACTS and for all of those people that have forgotten what exactly happened each year of the Bogus and Un-American BCS let us with the help of Wikipedia BCS Controversies webpage refresh your memory with the TRUTH.
As you read from the below year-by-year “controversies” that were created by the 2-team Bogus and Un-American BCS think about how adding two Semi-Final Games and a National Championship Game involving 4-teams instead of 2 would have made for some great Postseason College Football over the past 14 seasons that would have made Major College Football’s Regular AND Postseason the most compelling in American sports and why the 4-Team Postseason Playoff will open up National Championship possibilities for many more teams that will be in the mix to be one of those FOUR teams right up until the very last game of the regular/championship season:
The first year of the BCS ended in controversy when one-loss Kansas State finished third in the final BCS standings but was passed over for participation in BCS bowl games in favor of Ohio State (ranked 4th) and two-loss Florida (8th). Instead, the Wildcats played in the far less prestigious Alamo Bowl against Purdue. The following season, the BCS adopted the “Kansas State Rule,” which provides that the 3rd ranked team (or 4th ranked team if the 3rd ranked team has already qualified as a conference champion) in the final BCS standings is assured an invitation to a BCS bowl game. The rule was first utilized in 2002–03, giving an automatic berth to USC. The rule has been used six times in all, with Texas earning automatic bids in 2004–05 and 2008–09, Ohio State earning an automatic bid in 2005–06, Michigan receiving an automatic bid in 2006–07, and Stanford receiving an automatic bid in 2010–11 and 2011–12.
The following season, Kansas State finished 6th in the BCS standings but again received no invitation, this time being passed over in favor of Michigan (ranked 8th). Kansas State’s predicament (as well as that of undefeated Tulane who was denied a BCS bid because they played in Conference USA) inaugurated the long-standing media controversies regarding the system.
Florida State (12–1, ACC Champions) was chosen to play undefeated Oklahoma (12–0, Big 12 champions) in the Orange Bowl for the national championship, despite their one loss coming to another one loss team, the Miami Hurricanes (11–1, Big East champions), that was ranked No. 2 in both human polls. Adding to the controversy, Miami’s one loss came to yet another one loss team, the PAC-10 champion Washington Huskies, leaving three teams with a legitimate claim to play Oklahoma in the National Championship game.
Florida State lost to Oklahoma 13–2, while Washington and Miami both easily won their bowl games, adding more fuel to the fire. As a result of the controversy, the BCS was tweaked in the off-season. A “quality-win” bonus was added to the formula, giving extra credit for beating a top ten team.
In another controversial season, Nebraska was chosen as a national title game participant despite being ranked No. 4 in both human polls and not winning their conference. The Huskers went into their last regularly scheduled game at Colorado undefeated, but left Boulder with a 62–36 loss. The Buffaloes went on to win the Big 12 championship. However, the BCS computers did not take into account time of loss, so one-loss Nebraska came out ahead of two-loss Colorado and one-loss Oregon, the consensus No. 2 in both human polls (but 4th in the BCS). Nebraska beat Colorado for the No. 2 spot in the BCS poll by .05 points. Nebraska was routed in the national title game, 37–14, by Miami. Meanwhile Oregon also routed Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl, 38–16.
The Rose Bowl normally features the champions of the Big Ten and the Pac-10. However, the Big Ten co-champion Ohio State Buckeyes, finishing No. 2 in the BCS, had qualified to play in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl for the national championship against Big East champion Miami.
After the national championship was set, the Orange Bowl had the next pick, and invited No. 3 (#5 BCS) Iowa, who had shared the Big Ten title with Ohio State. When it was the Rose Bowl’s turn to select, the best available team was No. 8 (#7 BCS) Oklahoma, the Big 12 champion. When it came time for the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl to make a second pick, both wanted Pac-10 co-champion USC. However, a BCS rule stated that if two bowls wanted the same team, the bowl with the higher payoff had priority. The Orange Bowl immediately extended an at-large bid to the Trojans and paired them with the Hawkeyes in a Big Ten/Pac-10 “Rose Bowl East” matchup in the 2003 Orange Bowl. The Rose Bowl was left to pair Oklahoma with Pac-10 co-champion Washington State. Rose Bowl committee executive director Mitch Dorger was not pleased with the results. The 2003 Rose Bowl game had the lowest attendance and first non-sellout since 1944.
The 2003–2004 season came about with much controversy when three schools from BCS conferences finished the season with one loss (in fact, no Division I-A team finished the season undefeated, something that hadn’t happened since 1996, two years before the advent of the BCS). The three schools in question were:
USC was ranked No. 1 in both the AP and ESPN-USA Today Coaches poll, but was burdened by a collective 2.67 computer ranking due to a weaker schedule. Meanwhile Oklahoma, after an undefeated regular season, was routed by Kansas State (35–7) in the Big 12 Championship Game. The Sooners had been ranked first in both the human polls and the BCS rankings going into the season’s final week, but dropped No. 3 in the human polls after being defeated by the Wildcats. While the severe defeat seemingly eliminated the Sooners from title contention, they were still ranked first in the computer rankings by a large enough margin to give the Sooners the top spot in the final BCS rankings (the computer rankings didn’t take time of loss into account). LSU earned the second spot based on a stronger computer ranking than USC and a No. 2 human poll ranking. The Tigers went on to claim the BCS championship with a 21–14 win over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. USC defeated Michigan in the Rose Bowl, and the AP proclaimed the Trojans national champions. The split in the polls left many LSU (13–1) and USC (12–1) fans displeased. The LSU/USC dispute started a billboard war, and a group of LSU fans ended up putting a billboard up near USC. This incident has been considered a lightning rod of controversy by some sportswriters covering college football.
The college coaches involved in the coaches poll were contractually obligated to award their organization’s trophy and first place votes to the winner of the BCS championship game, LSU. However, for the first time in the history of the BCS Championship Series, the BCS Champion was not a unanimous No. 1 in the final Coaches Poll. LSU received 60 first-place votes to three for USC. It is speculated that the three coaches who broke ranks and violated their contractual obligation–Lou Holtz of South Carolina, Mike Bellotti of Oregon and Ron Turner of Illinois–did so because they believed that USC was the best team.
The 2004–2005 regular season finished with five undefeated teams for the first time since 1979. Despite having perfect records, the Auburn Tigers, Utah Utes, and Boise State Broncos were denied an opportunity to play for the BCS championship. Utah was the first non-BCS team to play in a BCS game. However, Utah and Boise State’s schedules were thought of as weaker than Auburn’s (by virtue of playing in the weaker Mountain West and WAC, respectively).
Most of the debate centered around Auburn, who went undefeated in the Southeastern Conference, leading to debates over the strength of schedule, a value that was diminished in the BCS before the season. Oklahoma went on to play USC for the title. USC defeated Oklahoma, 55–19. Both Auburn and Utah won their bowl games. Auburn defeated No. 9 Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl 16–13, and Utah defeated No. 21 Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl by a score of 35–7, while Boise State was defeated by No. 10 Louisville in the Liberty Bowl 44–40. This left 3 undefeated teams at the end of the season, where Auburn finished at No. 2 and Utah at #4.
Lobbying for votes
Another controversy occurred this season since the pollsters jumped the Texas Longhorns over the California Golden Bears in the final regular-season poll. Texas coach Mack Brown publicly lobbied for the pollsters to give Texas the final at-large bid. Although the Bears, as Pac-10 runner-up, normally would have had first crack at a Rose Bowl berth, Brown lobbied for and got that berth. Several Associated Press (AP) voters were besieged by fan emails and phone calls attempting to sway their votes, apparently spurred from Brown’s pleas to rank Texas ahead of other “less deserving teams.” California’s cause was hurt when it was less than impressive in a 26–16 victory over 24-point underdog Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, Mississippi the night before bowl bids were extended. With 13 seconds left in the game and Cal with the ball at the Southern Miss 22-yard line, Tedford elected to run out the clock instead of attempting to increase the margin of victory to possibly impress some voters. Leading up to the game, Tedford said he had no interest to run up the score.
Nine of the 65 AP voters switched Texas ahead of Cal, and three of them were from Texas. In the Coaches Poll, four voters moved Cal down to No. 7 and two to No. 8, when the week before none had them lower than No. 6. Meanwhile, two coaches moved Texas up to No. 3 when the team did not play that week. The Los Angeles Times wrote that accusations were raised about coaches manipulated voting, but the individual coaches votes were not released to prove or disprove the allegations. The AP Poll makes its voters’ records public. No. 6 Texas gained 23 points on No. 4 Cal in the AP poll, and the fifth-ranked Longhorns closed 43 points on the fourth-ranked Bears in the coaches poll. That allowed Texas to earn a BCS berth, finishing .0129 points ahead of Cal in the BCS standings after being .0013 points behind.
Weakening their cause after the fact was Cal’s 45–31 defeat in the Holiday Bowl to Texas Tech. Cal played without two of the highest performing receivers in the NCAA, however, this loss was attributed in many press reports to the Bears’ disappointment over being denied their first Rose Bowl appearance in 45 years. Another major issue is the fact that the Pac-10 has considerably weaker bowl tie-ins than all of the other BCS conferences.[original research?] For example, the Holiday Bowl is the second place Pac-10 bowl and the opponent is the 3rd, 4th, or 5th-place Big 12 team, meaning the Pac-10 team can finish just out of the BCS and play an unranked opponent. In part because of the controversy with Cal’s BCS ranking, the AP poll withdrew from the BCS after the season.
Going into the final poll, undefeated Boise State and four one-loss teams (Louisville, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida) were up for a spot against undefeated top-ranked Ohio State in the BCS National Championship game in Glendale, Arizona. Louisville (11–1, champions of the Big East), and Boise State were given less consideration because of a lack of schedule strength, while Wisconsin (11–1, Big 10) was two steps removed from Ohio State (they lost to Michigan, who lost to Ohio State, and Wisconsin and Ohio State did not play).
Michigan lost to Ohio State 42–39 in its regular season finale (Ohio State would go on to claim the Big 10 championship), but was still ranked ahead of Florida but behind USC going into the final ballot. Florida defeated Arkansas in the SEC Championship Game, and number 2 ranked USC lost to UCLA, leaving Michigan and Florida as one-loss teams who both claimed they deserved to play for the national championship against Ohio State. Many pundits denied that Michigan should get another chance to play Ohio State. Others claimed that this would only be a repeat of what happened in 1996 between Florida and Florida State, and that the two best teams should play even if they were from the same conference or if it was a rematch. Ultimately, the BCS National Championship was a meeting between Ohio State and Florida. A mere .0101 points separated No. 2 Florida from No. 3 Michigan. This small difference was a result of the human polls (USA Today’s Coaches’ Poll and Harris Interactive Poll) ranking Florida above Michigan while the computer polls had the two teams tied for second.
Michigan, which was automatically guaranteed a BCS at-large berth by virtue of its No. 3 ranking, went to the Rose Bowl, which they lost to USC 32–18. Florida officially became the national champions by impressively beating Ohio State 41–14. Florida also received all but one of the 65 first-place votes in the final Associated Press poll (the other went to Boise State, who won the Fiesta Bowl over Oklahoma).
At the conclusion of the season, three other one-loss teams were denied the chance to compete in a playoff or to play Florida for the national championship. Wisconsin and Louisville ended the season with only one loss (the same as Florida and Ohio State). Boise State, which received the other first-place vote in the AP poll, was the only undefeated Division I football team.
Because of a BCS rule allowing only two teams from each conference to play in BCS bowl games, highly-ranked Wisconsin and Auburn were not eligible for selection to a BCS game. Wisconsin was excluded because Ohio State and Michigan represented the Big Ten, and Auburn was excluded because LSU and Florida represented the SEC, even though Auburn defeated LSU 7–3 and Florida 27–17 during the season. LSU earned the at-large bid on the strength of its 31–26 victory over SEC West champion Arkansas in Little Rock, while the Razorbacks crushed then second-ranked Auburn 27–10 in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn’s 37–15 loss at home to a reeling Georgia team also destroyed its chances at the BCS.
An omission of the rule still would have not have been enough for Auburn to secure a berth, as Wisconsin would have likely been the final at-large bid. The final BCS poll had seven teams from the SEC and the Big Ten ranked in the top twelve but by the rule only two from each conference were eligible to play in BCS bowl games, offering the opportunity to argue that both conferences are over-ranked, that the Big Ten schedule does not produce a true conference champion, or that the limit of 2 teams from any one conference is inappropriate.
In a wild finish to a wild regular season of upsets, the top two teams in the polls lost on the same weekend for two weeks in a row to close out the regular season, sending the BCS into chaos heading into the selection of the two teams to play for the BCS National Championship Game. On November 23, top-ranked LSU lost in triple overtime to Arkansas. This was the Tigers’ second triple-overtime loss of the season, with the other to Kentucky. The following day, No. 4 Missouri beat No. 2 Kansas and took the top spot in the BCS for the following week. This created the interesting prospect of No. 1 Missouri playing its final game of the season as three-point underdogs against Oklahoma. On December 1, Missouri was defeated by Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game. No. 2 West Virginia was also stunned at home, by unranked Pittsburgh in the annual Backyard Brawl game. Meanwhile, Ohio State, who was idle for the final two weeks, climbed the rankings from No. 5 to #1. Hawaii capped off an undefeated season (and the only such team going into the bowl post-season), beating Washington and securing a major bowl appearance for the first time in the school’s history. However, as with Boise State in the previous season, Hawaii did not play for the BCS Championship because the Warriors’ schedule was deemed too weak, adding to the ongoing controversy regarding the subjectivity and how easy it is to manipulate the strength of schedule element in determining rankings. In fact, with Hawaii’s loss in the Sugar Bowl, the 2007–08 season was the first since the 2003–04 season (and only the second in the BCS era) with no teams finishing the entire season undefeated.
In another irony, No. 6 Missouri was shut out of the BCS entirely when No. 8 Kansas was selected as one of three at-large teams. The Tigers finished higher in the BCS standings and had defeated the Jayhawks a week before the Big 12 title game. However, Kansas received a bid to the Orange Bowl; Orange Bowl officials said that they picked Kansas because the Jayhawks had only one loss, while Missouri had two losses, both to Big 12 champion Oklahoma. Since BCS rules do not allow more than two teams from one conference to get a bid, Missouri was ineligible for an at-large bid. Missouri defeated Arkansas 38–7 in the Cotton Bowl. Kansas also went on to defeat No. 3 Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl by a score of 24–21, making no clear argument either way. Ohio State and LSU came in 1st and 2nd in the final BCS rankings, securing the BCS championship game between those two on January 7.
Before “Championship Saturday,” LSU was ranked No. 7 and Georgia was ranked #4. However, after No. 1 Missouri and No. 2 West Virginia lost, LSU was catapulted to No. 2 based on a 21–14 win over Tennessee in the SEC Championship Game. Many argued that the Bulldogs should not play in the National Championship game because they didn’t play for—let alone win—the SEC Championship. The Bulldogs and Vols finished with identical 6–2 records atop the SEC East, but Tennessee represented the division in the championship game by virtue of beating Georgia 35–14 in October. Virginia Tech had been ranked No. 6, above LSU, but had to settle for the No. 3 slot, despite a convincing win over Boston College in the ACC Championship Game. Voters were likely influenced by LSU’s crushing 48–7 defeat of Virginia Tech early in the season. Computer rankings placed Virginia Tech (0.960) and LSU (0.950) No. 1, and No. 2, respectively. The top four teams in the BCS standings were No. 1 Ohio State, No. 2 LSU, No. 3
Virginia Tech, and No. 4 Oklahoma.
Ultimately, LSU defeated Ohio State 38–24, marking the second straight season that the Buckeyes lost the national championship game to an SEC opponent. LSU received 60 of a possible 65 first-place votes in the final AP poll, the fewest for a BCS champion since 2004, when BCS champion LSU finished second in the poll to USC. Georgia, another SEC team, was second in the poll and received three first-place votes. The final two first place votes went USC and Kansas, ranked No. 3 and No. 7 respectively. Missouri, who did not play in a BCS bowl, finished fourth, and Ohio State fell to fifth after losing the championship game.
In the Big 12 South division, there was a three-way tie for the division champion between Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech (all one-loss teams). The winner of that division would likely play in the national championship game if it beat Missouri in the Big 12 Championship Game. Oklahoma lost to Texas 45–35, then Texas lost to Texas Tech 39–33, and then Texas Tech lost to Oklahoma 65–21. In the Big 12, the BCS standings were used to break this tie, causing the teams to jockey for votes in the human polls. In the end, Oklahoma edged out Texas for the right to represent the Big 12 South in the conference championship game. Despite the head to head loss to the Longhorns earlier in the season, the computer rankings ranked the Sooners’ schedule ahead of the Longhorns. Another BCS conference, the SEC, merely uses the BCS standings to eliminate one team in a three-way tie and then use head to head to determine tiebreakers, which would have worked in Texas’ favor.
Going into the conference championship games, only four teams—Alabama, Utah, Ball State and Boise State—were undefeated. However, in the event of an Alabama loss, Utah, Ball State, and Boise State had no realistic chance at a title game berth because their schedules were deemed too weak, once again igniting a controversy and debate about the legitimacy of the highly subjective strength of schedule component of determining rankings. As it turned out, Alabama lost to one-loss Florida in the SEC Championship Game, vaulting the Gators to the second spot in the final BCS rankings and a matchup in the title game against Oklahoma. Alabama fell to fourth, behind Texas. In addition, Ball State lost the MAC championship to Buffalo, which denied any chance they had at getting a BCS bowl berth.
Utah and Boise State both finished in the top 15 of the BCS standings (in fact, both were in the top 10), and were thus eligible for BCS at-large spots. It was generally understood, however, that only one team would get a berth, as it would be hard to justify allowing a second mid-major conference team into a BCS bowl over a BCS conference runner-up. This difficulty in “justifying” both non-automatic qualifying teams going to BCS Bowls led a number of BCS critics to point to this situation as being reflective of the arrogance and assumption of higher quality of the BCS Conferences that is not borne out by any statistics or their win-loss records, but rather is based on past records and old, no longer relevant or true traditions and reputations. Utah qualified automatically as the highest ranked (in the top 12) non-BCS conference champion and defeated Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Boise State (#9 in the BCS) and TCU (#11) were matched up in the Poinsettia Bowl, marking the first time in history that a bowl featured two teams from non-BCS conferences ranked higher than both participants in a BCS bowl game in the same season (the Orange Bowl matched No. 12 Cincinnati and No. 19 Virginia Tech). TCU defeated Boise State 17–16, and Utah won the Sugar Bowl to finish as the nation’s only undefeated team.
After the season, the Mountain West Conference made a proposal at the Bowl Championship Series commissioners’ annual spring meetings in Pasadena, California in conjunction with the Rose Bowl’s staging the 2010 BCS title game. The meetings were held during the week of April 20, 2009. The Mountain West Conference commissioner has proposed that a selection committee replace the polls and computers, an eight-team playoff system put in place, and changes to the automatic qualifier rules. On June 24, 2009, the BCS presidential oversight committee rejected the eight-team playoff plan.
By mid-October, it was clear that Florida and Alabama would face off in the 2009 SEC Championship Game, and the winner would play in the BCS title game. It was also generally believed that Texas would get the other spot if it won the 2009 Big 12 Championship Game, despite concerns about a weak non-conference schedule and a surprising lack of quality teams in the Big 12. Ultimately, in a repeat of the 2004–05 season, five teams finished the season undefeated—Alabama, Texas, Cincinnati, TCU, and Boise State. Going into the final weekend of the regular season, it was already certain that at least three teams would finish undefeated due to the SEC title game matchup between Alabama and Florida, as well as TCU having already completed an undefeated season.
Texas won the Big 12 title game, and with it a spot in the BCS title game, in controversial fashion. As the game clock appeared to run out with Nebraska winning 12–10; officials ruled that the time left on the clock was reviewable and ordered 1 second put back on the clock, allowing the Longhorns to kick a field goal for a 13–12 win, a result that left Nebraska coach Bo Pelini claiming that it was part of a BCS conspiracy. Earlier, Alabama had trounced Florida in the SEC title game to earn the other slot.
Boise State, Cincinnati and TCU all believed they had a chance at being in the championship game if Texas lost. However, despite a convincing season-opening win over eventual Pac-10 champion Oregon, another team in the top 10 of the BCS standings, and having played 13 games rather than the 12 that TCU and Cincinnati had played, Boise State’s schedule was once again deemed too weak for a spot in the championship game. TCU also thought it would have a shot, since by this time the Mountain West had been reckoned as the strongest non-AQ conference. Cincinnati, however, probably had the strongest claim of the three. Despite being ranked behind TCU going into championship weekend, the Bearcats were the undefeated champion of an AQ conference, rather than an at-large team like the Horned Frogs or Broncos. Indeed, any realistic chance of Boise State or TCU getting in the title game ended with Cincinnati’s season-ending victory over Pittsburgh, which ensured that at least two teams from AQ conferences would finish undefeated. Cincinnati did pass TCU to end up 3rd in the final BCS standings, but with the margin as slim as it was and three of the six BCS computers having placed Texas in between the two schools, no conclusions can be drawn as to what might have happened if Texas had lost.
Non-AQ Bowl Selection Controversy
Unrelated to the title game was the controversy regarding the bowl selections. While at No. 6, Boise State was able to earn an at-large berth, the announcement that they would be playing No. 4 TCU in the Fiesta Bowl caused a massive outcry and also focused the controversy on the broader issue of truly fair access to Bowl opportunities, rather than just appearances. As the two “BCS Busters” would be matched up against each other and would thereby be denied the opportunity to face a top team from one of the six BCS conferences, instead providing a rematch of a non-BCS bowl from the previous year (see above), the BCS came off looking ” at best, a cowardly cartel”. Placing two teams from non-AQ conferences in the same bowl also contradicted the previous assertion that non-AQ schools are less likely to receive at-large bids because the bowls prefer the superior drawing power of the big schools and their highly mobile fanbases—hence undefeated Boise State’s omission from the BCS the previous year in favor of two-loss Ohio State. For this reason, some are calling this match up the “Separate but Equal Bowl,” or the “Fiasco Bowl.”
The issue of far more consequence brought to the fore as a result of this game was that of access to equal and fair competition, the access to the chance to compete for and win the “Big Game” in the first place. There was a tremendous amount of criticism surrounding the 2010 Fiesta Bowl team pairing. Many argued that the BCS was terrified of a non-BCS team defeating a BCS team and bringing into question ever more starkly the entire premise of the BCS’s existence, that teams from BCS Conferences are somehow superior to non-BCS teams and are therefore more deserving to play for the “National Championship”. A defeat of a top ranked BCS team would help affirm that this premise was false – as the impressive record of non-BCS teams in BCS Bowls (4–1 against BCS AQ teams) already hints at. Consequently, the BCS paired TCU and BSU together so that the possibility of an embarrassment of an AQ school, and by extension the entire system’s validity, was eliminated.
During TCU’s second undefeated regular season run in a row (their only loss being the 2010 Fiesta Bowl against Boise State), and while Boise State was still undefeated prior to losing to Nevada, E. Gordon Gee, the president of Ohio State University (a member of the Big Ten, a BCS conference) and formerly president of two other BCS Universities, made public comments to the Associated Press stating that schools from non-BCS schools should not be allowed to compete for the BCS championship. “I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it’s like murderer’s row every week for these schools. We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day. So I think until a university runs through that gauntlet that there’s some reason to believe that they not be the best teams to [be] in the big ballgame.” These comments sparked immediate criticism from commentators, coaches from non-BCS conferences and a large segment of the general public. After the Rose Bowl victory by TCU over Wisconsin (who had defeated the Buckeyes earlier in the season), billboards appeared in the Columbus area congratulating TCU on its win, and which were signed by “The Little Sisters of the Poor” as a jibe to Dr. Gee’s remarks, which he nominally apologized for after the game. Later, he performed a day of community service at a nursing home operated by a convent group known Little Sisters of the Poor, although he added that he had no idea they existed when he made the comments.
Inequality of access to the BCS and the National Championship game, and the money that accompanies that access, continues to be at the heart of the controversy about the BCS.
In 2008 United States Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) had said that he would hold congressional hearings on the BCS in the future after his Utah team failed to play in the national championship game. Following up on Senator Hatch’s actions in the Senate, in April 2011 the Attorney General of Utah announced that he would be initiating a class action anti-trust lawsuit against the BCS, despite the fact that Utah is moving to the Pacific 10 Conference, which is an automatic qualifying conference. In May 2011 the U.S. Justice Department sent a letter to the NCAA asking for a detailed explanation about why FBS football was the only NCAA sport that the NCAA did not 1) have a playoff system in place to determine a champion and 2) why the NCAA had abrogated its responsibility to do so and given the authority to determine the NCAA Champion to an outside group such as the BCS. The Justice Department’s investigation and Utah Attorney General’s lawsuit are both aimed at forcing the BCS to open its books, which they are as a non-profit required to do every year and have never done, and at determining whether the BCS is an illegal trust or cartel based on Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890, the Clayton Anti-Trust Act of 1914 and the Robinson-Patman Anti-Price Discrimination Act. Two more states Attorneys General are said to be considering joing the Utah lawsuit, and the investigation by the Justice Department will probably include a minute and extensive examination of the Fiesta Bowl Scandal as well as conducting complete audits of the other BCS Bowls, the BCS itself and possibly even the schools of the 6 BCS Automatic Qualification Conferences.
The Fiesta Bowl scandal in particular was the catalyst that opened the BCS up to Federal interest for the first time, largely because the government is concerned not only about the BCS’s stifling of fair competition, but more importantly for the Federal Government about the possibility of fraud and tax evasion, if the BCS has violated the rules governing tax exempt organizations and groups that control tax exempt organizations. If the BCS Bowls, who are each separate entities yet also part of the BCS as a whole as well were to lose their tax exempt status, they could be liable for back taxes totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. The Fiesta Bowl abuses – especially those regarding alleged illegal and improper political contributions, excessive executive compensation and unjustified reimbursement payments, and the making of excessive, interest free and un-repaid loans – are precisely the types of abuses that would justify the Internal Revenue Service in stripping the BCS, and each BCS Bowl and possibly even each BCS Conference school (although that is highly unlikely) of their tax exempt status. In the worst case scenario the BCS could also be subject to forfeiture and seizure proceedings. While the worst penalties are unlikely to be enforced, even the milder penalties, such as a determination of a cartel and trust, would have devastating consequences for the BCS and the current system. The court could also order a resolution of the current unfair competition inherent in the structure of the BCS, including ordering a playoff system and ordering the Bowls to participate. Despite Big 10 Commissioner Delaney’s assertion that if the BCS were to fold they would “go back to the old system” if a court ordered a solution the Conferences would have no choice in the matter, and would be required – especially if a determination is made that the BCS is an illegal trust or cartel – to do whatever the court says, including submitting to federal oversight of the Bowl’s and Bowl teams’ finances and administration, and conducting a 4, 8 or 16 team playoff, or whatever other remedy the court ordered in their holding. The Department of Justice inquiry is far and away the most potentially dangerous legal situation that the BCS has faced to date.
In February 2012 former Fiesta Bowl chief executive John Junker pleaded guilty to one felony count of solicitation to commit a fraud scheme. He will be sentenced later under his terms of his plea bargain. This plea dealt with the scheme the Fiesta Bowl was involved in to solicit from, and then reimburse, employees for political donations to politicians. Two people still with the Fiesta Bowl pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of making a prohibited campaign contribution, each paying fines and being placed on probation for one year.
On the field, for the first time, an ineligible-player situation contaminated two of the five BCS bowls in this season before they were played. In December 2010, five Ohio State University players were implicated in an illegal-benefits scandal preceding the 2011 Sugar Bowl. Though the five players were suspended for five 2012-season games apiece, not only was Ohio State still allowed to play in the 2011 Sugar Bowl (which also resulted in Wisconsin playing in a Rose Bowl they otherwise would not have been allowed in, as Michigan State would have the Big Ten’s Rose Bowl berth had Ohio State been removed from the three-way tie which allowed Wisconsin to gain the berth), but so were the five players. After defeating Arkansas, the scandal grew, including open deception by Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. As a result, Tressel has been forced out and, on July 11, 2011, Ohio State University vacated all of its wins in an effort to reduce their penalties in an upcoming August, 2011 NCAA meeting. The BCS has taken no action at this time, awaiting the NCAA’s penalties before it does.
Also, controversies follow both teams in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game. Six months after Auburn won the championship, Auburn was still under investigation for its recruitment of Heisman-winner Cam Newton, although the NCAA eventually cleared the university of any wrong doing in October. The University of Oregon has been facing an NCAA investigation with respect to middlemen involving themselves in their recruiting practices.
By late October, it was clear that the winner of the November 5 game between LSU and Alabama would win the SEC West title, and that team would get a spot in the BCS title game if it won the rest of its games and the 2011 SEC Championship Game. LSU defeated Alabama 9–6, putting it on the inside track for the championship game.
The identity of the other title game participant was less clear. Initially, Alabama’s loss seemed to clear the way for Oklahoma State, which jumped to second in the BCS rankings. Had the Cowboys won out, they would have been a shoo-in for the title game. However, the Cowboys lost in double overtime to Iowa State on November 18. They dropped to fourth in the BCS rankings, while Alabama leaped to second. This raised the possibility of a rematch between the Tigers and Crimson Tide if both teams won out.
On the final weekend of the regular season, LSU won the SEC title over Georgia. A few hours later, Oklahoma State dismantled Oklahoma 44–10 to win the Big 12 Conference title, assuring it of no worse than a bid in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl (which hosts the Big 12 champion unless it finishes in the top two of the BCS rankings). A week earlier, Alabama finished its season with a 42–14 flogging of Auburn. While Oklahoma State had seemingly been eliminated from title contention two weeks earlier, the Cowboys reentered the discussion with their convincing defeat of the Sooners. Part of Oklahoma State’s argument was that it had won its conference, while Alabama didn’t even win its division. Oklahoma State also won more games during the season against winning teams and teams ranked in the Top 25. Oklahoma State had won seven games vs teams over .500 while Alabama had three such wins. Oklahoma State had also beaten five teams ranked in the top 25 to Alabama’s three. Those who supported Alabama argued that the Tide’s one loss had come to top-ranked LSU while Oklahoma State had lost to Iowa State, a team that only finished eighth in the Big 12 and barely qualified for a bowl. They also claimed the SEC was a stronger conference overall than the Big 12 that year, despite computer conference rankings that ranked the Big 12 as a stronger conference. At one point LSU, Alabama and Arkansas swept the top three in the human polls. Ultimately, Oklahoma State had the second-highest computer average, while Alabama finished second in both human polls. The Tide’s human-poll lead over the Cowboys was large enough to place them second in the final BCS rankings by only .0086 of a point—the smallest margin between No. 2 and No. 3 in BCS history– sending them to the BCS title game against LSU and locking Oklahoma State into the Fiesta Bowl, in which they beat Stanford 41–38.
In the run-up to the title game, most AP Poll voters said that unless Alabama won impressively, they were at least willing to consider voting LSU as national champion even if Alabama won. At least three voters said they would definitely vote the Tigers No. 1 unless the Crimson Tide won decisively. This led to the possibility of a split national championship, as the Coaches Poll is contractually obligated to vote its national championship to the winner of the BCS title game. Ultimately, Alabama defeated LSU 21–0, and hours later was a near-unanimous choice as national champion, taking all but five first-place votes in the AP Poll. The “rematch” bowl increased calls for a requirement that for any team to qualify for the national championship game, they must also have won their conference championship, either shared or outright. This idea was part of the discussions held after the end of the 2011 season as the BCS discussed changes for the next BCS cycle and contract period. The idea of a “plus one” playoff is also for the first time being seriously discussed by the 13 conference athletic directors and Notre Dame’s athletic director as they began to realize that the public opinion regarding a playoff had reached such a state that inaction might result in government action, based on the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. As of March 2012 these discussions are ongoing.
The title game debate had a ripple effect on the Sugar Bowl. Normally, the Sugar Bowl gets the first pick of SEC teams. However, with LSU and Alabama’s selections to the title game, no other SEC teams were eligible for BCS bids. Ultimately, the Sugar Bowl selected No. 11 Virginia Tech and No. 13 Michigan, bypassing No. 7 Boise State and No. 8 Kansas State. The selection of Virginia Tech drew particular ire, since the Hokies had gone 1–2 against ranked teams, with the two losses coming by 48 points—including a 35–10 rout at the hands of Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. Additionally, Michigan had just barely qualified for a BCS bid; it finished just two spots above the cutoff for a team from an AQ conference to get a bid without winning its conference. By at least one account, it was the lowest-ranked at-large team from an AQ conference to receive a bid in the BCS’ history.
Notably, this season marked the first since 2005 that no non-AQ teams were selected. Boise State was fifth in the initial BCS rankings, but its cause was significantly hobbled when it lost to TCU 36–35 on November 12, effectively handing the Mountain West title to the Horned Frogs. Houston appeared well on its way to a bid after an undefeated regular season placed them sixth in the next-to-last BCS rankings. However, the Cougars lost in the 2011 Conference USA Football Championship Game to Southern Miss. This left Boise State and TCU as the only non-AQ teams in serious contention for a bid. However, TCU’s chances for a bid ended when they finished 18th in the final BCS rankings, two slots below the cutoff for a non-AQ conference champion to get a bid. The criteria used to determine this was also highly controversial, as the publicly published polls and standings seemed to indicate that TCU had, in fact, achieved the necessary poll position but the unpublished, secret formulate criteria placed them two positions too low despite rising in the coaches’ poll. There were allegations of data manipulation in the press, although this was fervently denied by the BCS. The Horned Frogs themselves, as is the historical case with TCU, acknowledged that they only had an outside chance of a BCS appearance, and accepted an invitation to the Poinsettia Bowl against WAC Champion Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, whom they defeated. There continued to be confusion and speculation in the press however about how TCU’s BCS ranking was actually computed.
Whatever the case may have been, the end result of the season was that for the first time since 2007 and for the third time in the BCS era, no major team finished the season undefeated as LSU was the last team with an unblemished record going into the BCS championship.”
Yes, FOUR teams in a Postseason Playoff instead of the TWO teams in the Bogus and Un-American BCS would have made for some incredible and very unique college football games over the past 14 seasons that unfortunately NEVER happened and will be forever lost to history.
As for the new TV contract that will go along with this new 4-Team Postseason Playoff for Major College Football the people in the advertising business here at Coaches Hot Seat have been talking to their friends and business associates in the media buying business and in the TV network/cable channel industry and the “off the record” consensus from those folks which we are putting “on the record” since we Give a Damn about the future and success of Major College Football and Intercollegiate Athletics is that in this new TV deal there should be a….
Floor or Guaranteed Payment
…for the television rights for the 4-Team Postseason Playoff which would include the TWO Semi-Final Games and National Championship Game and that there should also be….
Incentives for Hitting TV Ratings and Advertising Rate Targets
…which is exactly the kind of set-up that was laid out in Matt Hayes’ Sporting News article this week:
Based upon current TV trends our friends and business associates in the media buying and television business tell us that the only programs on TV that command large audiences anymore are live sporting events and with Major College Football offering in 2014 a 4-Team Postseason Playoff that will attract TV rating numbers approaching the NFL Playoffs that $5 Billion Dollars over 10 years may be on the low side of what this new TV property is actually worth in a world where large TV audiences are not only rare they can command top Dollar as well.
See how quickly things have and will change in the future with live sports on TV and advertising rates around those events:
As for which TV Network/Cable Channel will end up with this new and groundbreaking 4-Team Postseason Playoff for Major College Football it is a TV sporting event that in many ways ESPN cannot lose out on since so much of their programming is built around college athletics and since ESPN has the advertising sales infrastructure built-in that can sell something like this event for top Dollar AND they have the ability to get an ever increasing amount of fees to carry ESPN from cable and satellite companies we would be shocked if ESPN didn’t put together an offer package that was too good for the college conference commissioners to turn down because no one with any sense would want to let get away what may very well become the second biggest television event in America each year.
Bravo to the Conference Commissioners and University Presidents for putting together a Postseason Playoff Format that builds on and enhances the Major College Football Regular Season and let’s hope they bring that same kind of cooperation to the other key issues now facing college football and intercollegiate athletics:
1. Concussions which are the biggest threat to football on all levels and the No 1 issue that needs to be worked on aggressively and solutions to decreasing the number and severity of concussions need to be produced quickly
2. Getting Some Spending Money to Student-Athletes
3. Helping to Make More I-A Athletic Departments Profitable and less dependent on student and campus fees
4. Getting the Sorry Bastards that are offering money away from OUR Student-Athletes
5. Strengthening the Ties between Athletic Departments and the University Campuses