Short Nerd Chief

Shocker: Major college conferences like system that gives championship to major conferences

Posted by Fred on April 30, 2008

Although the so-called “plus one” system under consideration by the BCS conferences was far from perfect, it was certainly an improvement over the current system, which seems designed primarily to match up the SEC champion and the Big 10 champion for a mythical championship. Needless to say, therefore, that the BCS cabal doesn’t like it, and the plus-one playoff proposal was turned down by the BCS:

The conference commissioners who manage the Bowl Championship Series chose Wednesday to end their brief consideration of a new plus-one format, which would have built a four-team playoff into the current five-bowl structure. Their action ā€” or lack of it ā€” assures the current system will remain in place through at least the 2013 season.

“The thing. .. that came through loud and clear is there’s satisfaction with where we are,” said Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner and BCS coordinator John Swofford.

BCS_poll As USA Today’s poll indicates, however, the only people satisfied with where the BCS is are the people who run the BCS, which is to say the major conferences that want to keep the championship their exclusive domain.  Fans want a playoff, and want a playoff by an ever-increasing majority.  Schools from non-BCS conferences want a playoff, as the chances of a non-BCS team ever playing in the big game are zero. The TV networks certainly would love a playoff, judging from the CBS juggernaut that is March Madness.

The sole justification for the current system is that a playoff would “diminish” the regular season, which BCS backers love to claim means more than the regular season in college basketball.  There may be some truth to this, but keep several things in mind.  First, a 12 game regular season is inevitably going to be of greater importance than a 30-game regular season: the baseball playoffs include 8 of 30 teams instead of 12 of 32 as in the NFL, but no one claims that a single Yankees-Red Sox matchup is more important than New England vs Indianapolis. Second, college football’s system means that there is no incentive to schedule a full slate of challenging non-conference games, as losing two of them means you have little chance of playing for the title.  Why do you think Michigan scheduled Appalachian State (a decision which they now regret, of course)?

Think of it this way: who outside of Memphis and Chapel Hill would have preferred a single Tigers-Tar Heels game to the tournament we were treated to? Did KU’s eventual victory diminish the importance of Michael Beasley’s coming out party in Manhattan against the Jayhawks?  Did KU’s victory over UNC diminish the UNC-Duke games? How about the Memphis-Tennessee game? The regular season would still matter with a playoff – the justification for the BCS is more money for the SEC, not the integrity of the game.

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