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Analysis of BCS

Although we have the utmost respect for NCAA and BCS officials and administrators, the truth must be revealed regarding their current system.

The BCS is an inexact science where lesser-known polls hold undue weight, among many other concerns. For instance, some computer polls rank teams favorably by margin of victory, which inevitably leads to one outcome ... a display of poor sportsmanship. This sets a bad example, displays the sport in a negative light, and is good for no one. Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer dislikes running up the score, but must concern himself with how badly he beats opponents. "Itís unfair to two parties - first, itís unfair to the players on your second team, who ought to be playing if youíve got a big lead; then itís unfair to your first team for the purpose of keeping them in to compete against the computer." (He forgets to mention the ramifications of the opponent) "I still think thereís a place for a playoff." said Fulmer.

Before we go further, letís first define the parameters of the current BCS rating system, then analyze their configuration.

BCS Rating System defined:

Consists of four major components: subjective polls of writers and coaches, computer rankings, schedule strength, and team record. All four components shall be added together for a total rating. The team with the lowest point total shall rank first in the standings.

Polls Calculated based on the average of the ranking of each  team in the AP and coaches polls. For example, a team ranked  number one in one poll and number two in the poll would receive 1.5 points in this component. (1+2 = 3/2 = 1.5)

Computer Rankings Consists of computer rankings which are published in  major media outlets. An average of these rankings where a  maximum adjusted deviation of no greater than 50% of the average of the two lowest computer rankings will be utilized to calculate the points in this component.

Strength of schedule*:  Calculated by determining the cumulative won/loss  records of the teamís opponents as well as the teamís opponentsí opponents, weighted two-thirds for the opponents record and one-third for the opponentís opponentsí record; then divided by 25. For  example, if a teamís schedule strength rating is 28th in the nation, that team would receive 1.12 points (28/25 = 1.12).

Team Record:  Each loss during the regular season will represent one point in this component.

Analysis:

For interpretation purposes, letís label the three different major categories of the BCS rating system:

            Label              BCS Category description

             A                    Coaches & AP polls points + computer polls points

             B                    Schedule strength points

             C                    Team record points

To begin, concerning category A, when working with variables as whole integers as are poll slots, it is only reasonable to average the variables in such a way as to obtain whole integers as an answer. The BCS rating system explanation sheet gave the example for the Coaches & AP poll where a team (blue) ranked number one in one poll (AP) and number two in the other poll (Coaches) would receive 1.5 points in this component (1+2 = 3/2 = 1.5). However, another team (red) could be ranked number two in the AP poll and number one in the Coaches poll, again providing 1.5 points! This component of the BCS rating system therefore provides no differentiation for selected teams, which is just the opposite of each componentís intended purpose. Similar logic applies to the Computer Rankings component, except that the mathematical inappropriateness is exaggerated where even more teams have the possibility of acquiring the same or similar points. Therefore, the Computer Rankings component also provides no differentiation for selected teams. The fact that these two components (label A) may not express distinguishable differences between teams is noteworthy, especially since this category constitutes 80% or more of the points by which programs are ranked.

 Furthermore, there is no uniformity with the BCS ranking formula. One general formula that applies to all teams in the same mathematical and theoretical mannerÉ would be more appropriate, as opposed to the BCS system where separate criteria having separate parameters are ambiguously added together. Simply stated, the separate criteria (components of the BCS system) are weighted differently for each individual team and itís rank.

Example:

Team rank      Approx. % of categories weighted per individual team

  A B C
# 2 80 20 0
# 6 83 10 7
# 10 80 8 12
# 25 89 4 7

[For clarity, letís explain the #6 team rank in the table above. The polls component points might be 6.5 and the computer rankings component points could be 5.75. If this particular team had the 35th toughest schedule in the nation, the strength of schedule component points would be (35/25) 1.4 and with one loss the team record component points would be 1.0 - giving a total of 14.65 points. To find the percentage that the strength of schedule attributed towards the total points and therefore to the overall rank of this particular team, we divide 1.4 by the total 14.65 giving 9.56 or approximately 10%. This means that the strength of schedule component for this particular team and rank was actually responsible for less than 10 percent of the means by which it was compared to all other participating teams.]

Analysis shows that categories B and C are relatively meaningless as to a teamís overall rank especially as the rank # increases, not to mention irrelevant in their mathematical structure due to a lack of uniformity. The BCS rating system does not work. It ridicules logic with itís inconsistent nature and unfortunately is an inferior substitute for a previously flawed procedure.

In itís first two years, how did the BCS fare?

Those who keep college football close to their hearts know that each conclusion for those years was not as rosy as some people have suggested.

In 1998, Tennessee was the only undefeated team and a good team but, in our opinion, not one of the best two in the country. Although FSU and Tennessee did play in the Fiesta Bowl, all of the other bowls were displayed as nothing more than a political arena.

The matchups in the other major bowls should have been:
(the number of losses for each team before the bowls are shown in parenthesis)

            ē Ohio State (1) vs. Kansas State (1)

            ē Florida (2) vs. Arizona (1)

For unknown reasons, Kansas State and Arizona were left out of the BCS bowls. This essentially negated the importance of the bowl games of the above (4) teams where: Florida was strong with losses only to the two teams in the Fiesta Bowl; Arizona and Kansas State both had perhaps the best regular seasons in their schoolís history; and possibly the best team in 1998, Ohio State, was without a chance at the National Championship because they faltered late in the season as opposed to Florida Stateís early season loss. With further analysis, the above proposed bowl configuration reveals dramatic results! Understanding that the Rose Bowl had two teams both with only one loss (Wisconsin and UCLA); and that the Fiesta Bowl sponsored FSU, which had one loss, and Tennessee with, of course, no losses.

If FSU had beaten Tennessee (and if Arizona would have beaten Florida), there would have been total mayhem! There would have been (5) teams with only one loss and each with a strong argument for the championship crown:

1. Florida State

2. winner of Ohio State vs. Kansas State

3. Arizona

4. winner of UCLA vs. Wisconsin

5. Tennessee

Whomever or whatever was at fault is now irrelevant. The point is: that there were not two teams that stood above the crowd and simple probability states that there rarely ever will be; and that the best teams were not matched in the major bowls.

Simply stated, the 1998 postseason was one of the most flawed and manipulated in history and clearly did not work as was intended.

As for the 1999 season, Florida State definitely did look like the best team in the country - on paper. But go no further than to ask Nebraska with their running game and devastating defense (whose only loss was to a Texas team they later beat handily in the Big 12 Championship game), or Kansas State whose only loss was to Nebraska, or Wisconsin - if any one of them felt worthy and capable enough to play the likes of FSU. Also, the 1999 postseason displayed the continuation of an ugly pattern of manipulation that started one year earlier. Like that selfish kid in the neighborhood who owned the Monopoly game and insisted always on being the banker and consequently changed the rules during the middle of the game, the BCS reared itís head late in the season to change the rules in Virginia Techís favor. With the Big 12 Championship game only days away, there was a tight race in the BCS standings between Nebraska, with one loss, and Virginia Tech, with no losses, for the no.2 slot and a chance to play FSU in the title game. At this very inappropriate time, the rules were then changed. No longer would the BCS take into account any Division I-AA playoff games to determine schedule strength points. This was relevant in that Virginia Tech had played James Madison, a Div. I-AA school, earlier in the season. Now that James Madisonís - and James Madisonís opponents - won/loss record would not be utilized in further games, the margin that would have narrowed in Nebraskaís favor was suddenly such that Nebraska did not have a chance to be in the title game, regardless of the outcome of their final game. So, to continue the analogy, we all know what happens to that selfish kid in the neighborhood - eventually, no one plays his game anymore.

Conclusion:

Research shows that 58% of players believe that an early season loss makes the rest of the season less meaningful, where fans of the sport feel similarly. Only 35% of fans understand the BCS system, where too much time is spent on interpretation and justification. Instead of "weíre number 1", now with the BCS system players chant "weíre in the top quartile (of a maximum adjusted deviation ...)!"

Members of our company attended the Jan. 2, 2000 Fiesta Bowl with two extra high-dollar face value tickets to the game. For curiosityís sake, we spent hours seeking to find the highest $ offer anyone would be willing to pay for these tickets. Hold onto your sombrero. The best offer: ten dollars ... for both! We gave them away to Tennessee fans, an excited man and his young daughter. Whatís the point? In the current system, if you are not the championship game, you are irrelevant.

Beyond any of the above, the BCS system preserves everything that college fans have complained about for years. One early loss kills a teamís chance to win a title. Teams still try to blow out opponents by five or six touchdowns. And at the end of the year, weíll still have no confidence that the best teams even made it to the championship game.

On the other hand, the system outlined in this proposal does not allow for favoritism, or unsportsmanlike behavior, or ... the list is too long and redundant. However, again, we will enthusiastically shout: hop aboard ... or gangway, for the inevitable:

 

National Championship Bowl Tournament

Ď Champions are determined on the fieldí

 

 

*           This BCS ranking method was made public knowledge well after the filing date of the Div. I   Football National Championship 100% patent approved proposal ĎChampions are Determined on the Field.í

É          Please refer to the proposal ĎChampions are Determined on the Fieldí, sections: Poll  Configuration, and GP Formula: Alternate Ranking Method.

 

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