Weekend Meetings Shed Light on Proposed BCS Alternative

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The Associated Press

Alabama’s Marquis Maze returns a punt 49 yards during the BCS National Championship game against LSU. The rematch between the two teams in the championship game called to question the BCS system

Elijah Perez

Analysis of the 2012 BCS National Championship game go beyond Xs and Os. The all-SEC affair, which saw Alabama shutout LSU, brought to light bigger picture issues than can be answered by box scores. Replacing discussions of game plans and play calling are questions of worthiness, fairness and alternatives to a system that has been surrounded by controversy since its inception in 1998.

Though this is hardly the first time the BCS has been called into question. Not even 15 years old, the BCS has created more headaches for football fans than a teenager does for his parents as he learns to drive.

If only navigating the college football landscape was as easy as hammering home the intricacies of a four-way intersection to a young driver.

However, recent Associate Press reports suggest that a solution to the BCS problem may be around the corner. The Coalition On Intercollegiate Athletics, with a membership composed of faculty representatives from 58 of 115 eligible schools, met over the past weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma to address many concerns affecting collegiate athletics.

Attendees to the meeting included representatives from schools in each of the six “automatic qualifying (AQ)” conferences, as well as representatives from the five remaining athletic conferences that round out college football’s top tier, the Football Bowl Subdivision. Three of the representative schools were from the Big 12 conference, including the University of Texas.

Of the issues discussed: the efficacy of the BCS system in selecting college football’s national champion. The proposal given the most consideration over the weekend is one many college football fans have been waiting on for years. AP reports indicate that discussions of a 64-team playoff as a BCS alternative did take place in Tulsa.

What does this mean for college football? Could big changes be in store for the FBS?

These questions may be answered with a very unsatisfying “definitely maybe.”

Definitely, the weekend’s meetings provide evidence that these opinions have been taken into consideration. Or, at the very least, are known to big-time decision makers.

Maybe something will change.

The fact of the matter is that there are just too many conflicting views for any immediate progress to be made.

Advocates for a playoff point to things like decreased viewership of the past year’s BCS bowls. According to CBSsports.com reports, this year’s edition of the National Championship received the third lowest rating of the BCS era.

This drop in viewership could be evidence of a growing discontent. After all, this is the system that many have cited as relying far too heavily on computer rankings to determine matchups, instead of looking to important achievements on the field.

In recent years, the BCS has been called into question for such a reliance on computers. The three-way tie in the Big 12 South following the 2008 that found Oklahoma narrowly beating out Texas and Texas Tech for a berth in the conference title game had UT fans vying for a playoff system.

This is just one of many similar stories. A full analysis of BCS grievances would be as long as a doctoral dissertation. And just as depressing to read.

Opponents to the playoff proposal, on the other hand, present a valid argument. As writer Chuck Klosterman points out in his 2007 article, “No college football playoff, please,” the lack of a playoff creates a sense of importance for every matchup. Every game matters, as computer rankings are constantly calculating to determine who gets to go to the big time bowls at the end of the year. As Klosterman says, “It’s always the playoffs.”

Furthermore, small programs fear that the creation of a playoff could present heavy financial losses. These non-AQ schools often rely on early season matchups with big time programs for big paychecks. A playoff could eliminate that.

So, where do this weekend’s meetings leave college football fans? Still waiting at an intersection, hoping that the teenager across the intersection makes the right turn.

Printed on Thursday, January 26, 2012 as: BCS is questioned, playoffs considered