January 25, 2020

College football: As the BCS prepares its swan song, what will be its legacy?

By Evan Debo

Welcome to the BCS – where the polls are made up and the points don’t matter.
Channeling one of my favorite retired shows, “Whose Line Is It Anyway,” this is probably the best way to describe the Bowl Championship Series in a nutshell.
As the BCS’ 16-year run comes to a close this season, one can’t help but wonder “How will it be remembered?”
The premise of the BCS system is to slate the country’s top two teams against one another in an early January bowl game where they get to fight it out for the right to be called the champion of the season; however, masked under faulty polling and inconsistent computer rankings, the system has more flaws than a Carnival cruise ship.
Remember back in 2003 when we had a split champion?
LSU defeated Oklahoma to win the BCS national title game, but USC remained number one in the Associated Press Poll.
Or maybe the campaign of the 2004 Auburn squad might jog your memory about how flawed the system has been.
Auburn ran the gauntlet that is the Southeastern Conference (SEC) schedule and emerged undefeated with an unblemished 13-0 record, but was left out of the BCS National Title Game. USC and Oklahoma were selected ahead of Auburn to play for the crystal ball that year, and USC eventually had that title stripped as a part of their NCAA violations in the Reggie Bush scandal.
Perhaps the biggest problem the BCS has created is the idea of ‘style’ points. When teams know they will receive a boost in the polls if they blow out an opponent by margins of 30 to 40 points or so, they do it.
Style points are why former Wisconsin Badger head coach Bret Bielema decided to go for a two-point conversion up 41-16 in the closing minutes of a fourth quarter contest against Minnesota in 2010.
The use of style points in college football is solely for stat-padding and for impressing the voters, and it ruins sportsmanship in the process. But when examining the history of something there are always positives and negatives.
For the SEC, memories of the Bowl Championship Series will always be nostalgic. SEC teams have won an unprecedented nine of the 15 BCS national titles – and Alabama is looking for a three-peat that would most assuredly cement them as one of the best to ever step foot on a Division 1 football field.
The BCS gave us must-see TV with that phenomenal 2006 Rose Bowl where Texas quarterback Vince Young scored on an 8-yard scamper with 19 seconds left in the fourth quarter to win the game.
Buckeye fans will always remember the 2003 Fiesta Bowl where Ohio State ended Miami’s repeat-bid in a 31-24 overtime showdown – questionable penalty call in favor of Buckeye defensive back Chris Gamble included.
It was the BCS who delivered that stage, that great television, and that penalty call.
As far as the legacy is concerned, fans, writers, and coaches of the BCS-era will probably only remember the controversy and the inconsistency – not the good times.
In failed relationships we tend to only remember why it ended and why we moved on and, unfortunately, the BCS will probably be remembered as such. In fact, some might change the ‘C’ in BCS from championship to controversial.
But maybe that is indeed how it should be remembered – the Bowl Controversial Series.
The 2013 rendition of the BCS will be a farewell tour – filled with controversy, style points, and probably a joke or two about Johnny Manziel.
I say embrace the debate and enjoy the ride.


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