Originally created 12/12/04

Readers' ideas to fix the BCS mess



Editor's note: We asked for reader feedback on the Bowl Championship Series, and you responded. Although most respondents are in favor of a playoff to determine college football's national champion, there are a variety of ideas on how to do it.

BCS solution:

All bowls and the BCS will exist. Non-BCS Conferences will have a legitimate chance at national title.

Rule No. 1: Everything remains as is except that every team with no or one loss qualifies for a playoff. Example this year is that 8 teams would qualify.

Rule No. 2: All teams with two or more losses go to bowls as invited. There will be no tie-ins. This way, the lesser bowls can get more regional teams that will increase ticket sales and boost interest.

Rule No. 3: Final BCS poll will be used for seeding playoffs among qualified teams. If there needs to be a play-in or bye, BCS standings will dictate who gets a bye or who has to go to the play-in game.

2004 bracket would be as follows:

No. 7 Boise State at No. 2 Oklahoma

No. 6 Utah at No. 3 Auburn

Winners play semifinal at Rose Bowl (or rotating bowl of BCS choice)

No. 5 Cal at No. 4 Texas

No. 8 Louisville at No. 1 Southern Cal

Winners play semifinal at Sugar Bowl (or rotating bowl of BCS choice)

Winners of semis meet in true national title game in the Orange Bowl.

- John Bowen, Augusta

Any talk of "fixing" the BCS is nothing more than whistling in the dark.

Suppose for the moment that Auburn, Utah and Boise State win their bowl games. Along with the Oklahoma-Southern Cal winner, we would have four major college undefeated teams at the end of this season. Four teams without a loss. And your undisputed national champion is ... ?

Polls, points and votes should only serve one purpose - shape the landscape of the teams who are proving their mettle on the field so there can be a playoff. The NCAA manages to accomplish this in basketball and baseball without dispute and with quite a profit. A 16-team, 8-bowl playoff with the semifinals and final rotating among the four major bowls - Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta - would leave us with one undisputed national champion. The 17th team that squawks that they were left out of the dance has one reality to face - win more games and you'll get in.

Do away with these early season 12th games, install a points system that rewards teams for playing quality opponents with winning records (to prevent teams from loading up on non-conference cream puffs a la Kansas State) and pair the final 16 as in No. 1 vs. No. 16, No. 2 vs. No. 15, etc.

The BCS got lucky in 2002 when Miami and Ohio State emerged as the only two major undefeated teams and settled the debate on the field. Now we need a system that ensures that this will take place on a yearly basis.

- Michael Gastelle, Evans

I've been thinking how the "three-way tie" among Southern Cal, Oklahoma, and Auburn could be determined once and for all. Invite all three teams to the Orange Bowl.

During the first half, Southern Cal would play Oklahoma. The winner of that match would play Auburn in the second half, and the last team standing wins the championship. If there is a tie at end of either halftime, sudden death would determine the winner of that match. Such a system would not place any additional stress on the players and there would be a clear winner at the end of the contest. Of course, all teams would have to agree to the format.

- Earl Williams

One suggestion for a playoff is this. Have a 16-team playoff using the top 16 teams in the polls, which would use 8 of the lower current bowls at the beginning, such as the Liberty Bowl, Independence Bowl, etc., then the winners would be down to eight teams, which could be played in four bowls, Cotton, Fiesta, Gator and Outback. There would then be four teams remaining, which would require two bowls, Orange and Sugar, and after these are played, we would be down to two teams which could play for the national championship in the Rose Bowl.

Four weeks would be required to complete the playoff for the national championship in Division I-A football. Of course the playoffs could be rotated among the different bowls. This would eliminate all the confusion and biases among voters and create more excitement at the end of the regular season. This is the same number of playoff games used in Division I-AA.

- Coleman Hatfield, Aiken

We all know the bowl games are about money. That is why no playoff system is in place. Maybe we could keep all the lesser bowls. Take the top seven bowls and turn them into a playoff for the top eight teams according to the BCS. I know No. 9 would be unhappy, but a cutting-off point needs to be held. A three-week playoff would ensure the top eight get a shot at the title. Everyone knows Southern Cal and Oklahoma don't play nearly as tough a schedule as anyone in the Southeastern Conference. Anyone with one loss in the SEC (much less no losses) deserves a shot as much as they do. (How is the SEC the fourth toughest conference this year according to computers?)

Rotate games yearly so that every one will be the championship game and gets a chance to host the best team in the first round. Problem solved ... bowls keep money and no more MESS!

- John Bradley, North Augusta

Obviously, the current BCS system is a failure. it is only a "slight" upgrade from past polling systems which also failed. Money is always the driving force and until they come up with an "equitable" solution, nothing will really change to determine a true national champion. This is how i would do it:

No. 1. No preseason polls. The first polls should come out in the first week of October. Use the current format of computers, coaches and AP.

No. 2. No team with more than one loss.

No. 3. The top eight teams will play for the BCS championship.

The first four games are played the first Saturday and Sunday of January. The next two games the following Saturday and Sunday and the championship game the following Sunday or Monday night at 8 p.m. You are adding one additional week of football for two teams and two additional weeks for only two. The four winners then playoff:

8-1 winner vs. 5-4 winner

7-2 winner vs. 6-3 winner

The two winners then play for the BCS national championship.

- David Volpitto

It's amazing how most people are upset with the BCS and how Auburn got left out of the Orange Bowl. The current BCS formula is not perfect (see Cal) but they actually got the national championship game right this year. First of all, nothing against Auburn, because any undefeated season is something special. Everyone agrees that Southern Cal should be one of the teams playing for the title. They have proven this by defeating two top-10 teams (Cal, Virginia Tech). Oklahoma is the team that some feel should not be in Miami but they have defeated just as many top 25 teams as Auburn (3) and none of those games were played on their home turf.

The best argument that Auburn has is "any team that wins the SEC should be playing for the national championship." This statement might have been true a few years ago but the SEC actually had a down year and the SEC West is not exactly a powerhouse (see Ole Miss, Mississippi St., Arkansas, Alabama). This Auburn team also cannot be compared to the 2003 Southern Cal team because the Trojans were actually No. 1 in both human polls at the end of the season which Auburn cannot claim.

Finally, there has been a public outcry for a playoff system which would only hurt major college football. Example: Two highly-ranked local college teams in Furman and Georgia Southern played each other in what should have been one of the most anticipated college games in the Southeast. But because of the playoff system, this game was played only for playoff seedings and conference bragging rights. On the other hand, Auburn and Georgia squared off in one of the most anticipated games of the year. Why? Auburn couldn't lose the game and Georgia couldn't afford to lose another game. The importance of this game would have been lessened with a playoff system in Division I football.

Besides, a true championship team is made during the course of the season and not who is playing the best football in December and January (see NFL). I know this is not a very popular opinion but what other sport generates this type of excitement from the very first game to the last?

-Louis Mackie, North Augusta

Let the farce of the polls and paper lions end and a new era of real champions begin. Real champions are decided by head to head matchups. If you're not going by strength of schedule, Boise State should be number one with the nation's longest win streak. If you are going by strength of schedule Southern Cal shouldn't be in the top five. Oklahoma had no business being there last year after getting spanked in their conference championship. Southern Cal in turn should not go this year because of the sympathy vote hangover from last year. How can Southern Cal be co-champions when they weren't even invited to the college "Super Bowl" last year?

Were the media darling Philadelphia Eagles co-Super Bowl champs last year? I wonder how the Patriots would like that. Probably the same way Louisiana State, the true champs, felt. We should probably have Tigers as champions two years in a row, but with Auburn being done dirty we might never know. Let the farce end and the playoffs begin. You could have a ten- or 11-game season with a 16-team playoff and a number of additional bowls for some teams that didn't make it.

- Samuel Long

This is a complaint about the BCS because Tennessee was ranked so far behind Georgia. Tennessee beat Georgia and won/lost the same number of games. The second loss for Tennessee was by a lower ranked team, but if Georgia lost their top two quarterbacks they probably would have lost to someone else, too. I just thought Tennessee should have gotten a little more credit.

- Dana Johnson

There should be a playoff system between the top six teams in the nation.

A 1 vs. 2, B 3 vs. 4, C 5 vs. 6. Randomly choose a team for a "bye" and then have the remaining two teams play and the winner of that game would play the "bye" team for the national championship!

- Gerald L. Gleason

The entire BCS system is a mess. First off, there should be no automatic bids for teams that win certain conferences. Pittsburgh does not belong in a BCS game. The entire Big East is a joke this year and they should not have to put a team in a major bowl game. Also, Utah does not deserve a BCS game. They do not play anybody throughout the year, yet they manage to become ranked number six. The entire BCS is a joke.

What the NCAA needs to do is take the top 8 teams in the BCS standings and put them 1 vs. 8 and 2 vs. 7 and so on just like the basketball tournament and let them go at it playoff style with the winners advancing. The final two teams will play for the national championship.

Something needs to be done. Many teams are getting shafted by this system such as Cal, who is a much better team than either Pitt, Michigan, or Utah, but is playing in the Holiday Bowl. But we all know that the NCAA won't ever get rid of the BCS and move to a playoff because they will lose too much money and that is a shame.

- Matt Gaylor

The BCS was designed only to give us a 1 vs. 2 matchup. We can all argue about the rankings, but the consensus 1 vs. 2 will play for the national championship. Ten years ago, faced with these same end of season rankings, Southern Cal, Oklahoma and Auburn would have been going to the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl, respectively. The BCS has at least fixed that problem.

But until the championship field is expanded to pick up at least 8 teams, the controversy will never abate, save for the occasional year when exactly two teams finish the season undefeated. So don't blame the BCS. Blame the presidents and administrators that steadfastly refuse to give the paying customers what they want most - a true undisputed national champion.

Here's the fix. Choose the 8 teams for the BCS bowls and then play two rounds of elimination games at campus sites to decide the national championship matchup. The six losing teams could still be drafted by the other BCS alliance bowls. By completing the conference championships a week earlier than this year, and thus clearing the first two Saturdays in December for these games, exams and holidays would not be impacted.

- Mo Tinsley, North Augusta

There is only one way to clear up the BCS mess. You must have 2 playoff bowls after the regular bowl games and then a championship bowl game. The 4 competing teams will be selected after the regular bowl games are over by the BCS. The teams draw lots to see who plays who in the playoff bowls. The winners of the playoff bowls will vie for the national title in the championship bowl. This would not only end the bickering but line the pockets of the competing schools and TV stations covering the bowls.

- Andy Arvin

I feel there are two options: (1) Go back to the method we had before BCS or (2) Have an 8-team playoff for the National title. The BCS just does not work!

- Curt

My team is in the BCS Championship game, but I still believe that we need a playoff system to determine a true national champion every year. They have in every other college football division and every other college sport.

- Jamie

Let's face it: as long as there is not a playoff, the BCS is probably the best system than can be devised. Using coaches' input and a computer model to rank teams has a lot of merit and in years where there are two undefeated teams it's easy to get behind the system. Obviously, in years where there are several undefeated teams, the flaws are easily evident and discussed ad nauseam. A solution would be to employ the BCS model to come up with the top eight teams in the country and then have a three-week playoff that culminates in a national championship game. Limit out-of-conference games to keep teams' schedules reasonable and use the seven bigger bowls (Orange, Sugar, Rose, Fiesta, Cotton, Gator, Peach?) as the basketball tournament uses sites across the country for the regional matchups. The national championship game would rotate to a different bowl each year and the second tier bowls would be used as they are today, a place for the rest of the teams to play for pride and money that helps support other teams and sports in their respective conferences.

- Cameron Nixon

We have become a nation of "everyone has to win something" mentality. Nothing can be more complicated and messier in college football right now than the BCS. Just play football and let the chips fall where they may. Someone will win and someone will lose. This is not a new concept. Believe me, life will go on. We have so many things in life that are truly important, and the BCS is not one of them. Let's just enjoy the games once more and have a few bowl games that really reflect an honest competition instead of diluted playoffs and obscure bowl games that are supposed to placate everyone.

- Beverly Anderson Deal

I think that the BCS fomula is terrible. Five times it has proven itself crap, and that is out of seven years. Division II has the playoff system and has never had any problems. What is two extra weeks to the season? If the teams don't have any off weeks, not only will the best team prevail, but no extra weeks would be involved. Take the top eight teams in the BCS and have a playoff. Keep the same bowls and split the money up more evenly. It's not that hard!

- J.C. Widener

I believe using the current bowl structure as a playoff system for the top 8-10 teams would be the best answer. This could be accomplished in 4 or 5 games and by starting the playoffs the week following the end of the regular season we could still have a champion by New Year's Day or the week after.

- Danny Pond

I think the BCS is all wrong. Auburn should at least get a chance to play for the championship with one of the top two teams. Those seniors won't get another chance to be No. 1 or No. 2 in the nation without a playoff of some kind. Those undefeated teams could play each other or anything instead of just leaving them out to dry and saying, 'OK, they beat every team they played and Tennessee twice.' What more could Auburn do? There has to be a better way than the BCS.

- Bob Platt, Aiken

The BCS is not all bad. It rates the team in a fair manner. But it needs to take a role from high school football playoffs by adding the playoff system into the picture. Start the bowl games early and use the bowl games as the playoffs. Then the final game would be the champion of the BCS. This is the only fair way to keep everybody on the same playing field. High schools play 14 to 15 games a year if they make the playoffs and go to the championship. Colleges only play 12. This is with a bowl game. Then if they go to the pros they play 15 games and a playoff system there, so where is the confusion in the BCS?

- Todd

There is only one way to handle this mess. Let the 4 top teams have a playoff. Number 1 plays number 4 and No. 2 and No. 3 play each other. The winner of the two should then play for the championship. If you make it to the top four then you deserve a chance to play for the national title.

- Charles Padgett