What is the point of BCS rankings?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 9, 2000

The nation waits with bated breath as the numbers are crunched and crunched again.

Both camps have valid points, both want a favorable decision in the worst way, and both will likely do whatever it takes for the win, regardless of the damage done to the system in the process.

And all the while, the country is left facing the unthinkable – what if we have co-national champions?

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I know, with Bush and Gore stealing the headlines these days, college football doesn’t seem to have the importance it usually demands toward the end of December. But since neither presidential candidate really impresses me much anymore, let’s turn our attention to the nation’s second-most important crisis.

I’ll begin by admitting I never liked the Bowl Championship Series rating system. I like it a little more than the polls, but it is still too imperfect a system for my tastes. Like the polls, I think subjectivity plays too much of a role in the rankings – only with the BCS, it’s a computer making the subjective judgements.

I realize that with the scads of teams competing in Division I college football, some subjectivity will eventually come into play. There is no way for every team to go head-to-head, and it is unrealistic to have a playoff season long enough to have every conference champion play each other. This also leaves out the independent teams.

But a playoff system based on BCS rankings is possible and, I think, neccessary.

Why did we switch to BCS anyway? As I recall, it was to ensure that a clear national champion was determined every year. However, the polls certainly don’t match up with the BCS and we’re in the same situation we were a few years ago. Only this time, we have a computer printout that makes as little sense as the quarterback rating system telling us why the teams are ranked as such.

How about taking the top 12 or 16 teams according to the BCS rankings, seed them according to those rankings, and have ourselves some playoffs? Yeah, there would be some arguing as to who is included in these playoffs, but it’s a safe bet that the team worthy of the National Champion title will be in that top 10.

Look at college basketball. The teams in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four are rarely surprises. The high seeds are just happy to be there. And there’s never a dispute as to wins.

The beloved bowl games of college football would still exist in my more-perfect system, only they would now be playoff games. You’ll have winning teams play in several bowls, but I think it will give every bowl game something worth watching.

As it stands now, I have a hard time getting excited about the Acme.com/Time-Warner Euphoria Bowl that features two 6-4 West Coast teams playing for pride. Give them a chance to win the national title, and suddenly the game is a lot more interesting.

If you think March Madness is exciting, can you imagine a college football playoff atmosphere?

And keep in mind, as Delta State showed Saturday, how well the playoff system works in Division II.

I have a few ideas about solving the presidential race, too, but I don’t know if America is quite ready for a no-holds-barred pay-per-view presidential knife fight. One more recount, though, and who knows …

Nick Adams is sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 445-3632 or e-mailed at nick.adams@natchezdemocrat.com.