BCS: Big Controversial System

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As the month of November is upon us, Americans wait to see how an arguably flawed and out-dated system will determine the winners and losers of 2012.

With so much at stake and the polls so close, the drama is certain to be high.

You think I’m referring to Romney vs Obama and how experts project Romney will win the popular vote by as much as five percent but still lose the election to Obama thanks to the controversial electoral college?

Well, actually I am referring to Alabama/Kansas State/Notre Dame/Oregon vs the BCS.

The BCS without fail has been a topic of controversy every year in recent history, but this year, college football positioned itself to have a regular-season ending unlike any other as four undefeated teams with high profiles compete for two spots in the national title game January 2013, and three other teams lurk in the shadows hoping to cause additional stir.

Is there a fair way to determine who the top two should be?

The BCS was a system meant to be that fair way comprising two human-made polls and six computer polls.

However, humans are innately prone to be biased and no perfect algorithm can be performed by a computer which will satisfy everyone.

A look at how the polls shape up currently will give a good taste of the drama that will unfold the next few weeks in college football.

Alabama is ranked No. 1 in the two human polls, garnering 119 of 174 possible votes, and Kansas State is ranked No. 2, then No. 3 is Oregon and No. 4 has Notre Dame according to current BCS standings.

What does all this mean?

Some say that it points to the bias media members have favoring the SEC (four other SEC teams also ranked in top 11 in human polls) and the flashy style of Oregon.

Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated in a recent article stated that he feels the current rankings for the four teams were not influenced by this year’s play, rather they reflect the opinions and bias stemming from even prior to the start of this season.

Notre Dame and Kansas State have already done most of what they can in making their case to be worthy of spot in the national championship game this year.

Notre Dame beat No. 10 Michigan State, No. 18 Michigan, No. 17 Stanford and No. 8 Oklahoma in a six week span. After two weeks of lower-profile games, they will travel to No. 17 USC for their finale.

Kansas State had impressive wins over conference foes No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 13 West Virginia, No. 14 Texas Tech and No. 24 Oklahoma State. They finish their season against TCU, Baylor and No. 17 Texas.

Both teams are desperately fighting to influence the human voters to bump them up into the No. 1/No. 2 slot, but with their high-profile games already past, that will be difficult to accomplish short of a loss by Alabama or Oregon.

Meanwhile, Oregon and Alabama strive to maintain their position in the human polls and work their way up the computer rankings.

Oregon has the meat of their schedule still awaiting them in No. 19 USC this weekend, as well as No. 14 Stanford and No. 11 Oregon State to finish their season in an opportunity to boost their strength of schedule directly affecting their computer rankings rather dramatically.

Alabama is fresh off a win against No. 7 LSU in a rematch of last year’s national championship followed by No. 15 Texas A&M and two easy games including Auburn, who has disappointed this year.

In seasons past, mass chaos was avoided despite five undefeated teams at the end of the season (2004 and 2009) because of either a large discrepancy in strength of schedule between teams or late-season losses by teams in the mix.

This year, the résumés of the teams are fairly even and losses primarily by Alabama or Oregon will ignite intense debate over who should move up between Oregon and Notre Dame.

Other sub-plots at play in the full BCS picture feature two other undefeated teams from AQ (automatic qualifying) conferences and a BCS buster.

No. 9 Louisville, the current Big East leader, is basically being treated like a mid-major and not being considered for the national championship because of a schedule void of impressive wins against top-quality teams.

Ohio State is ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press poll but is ineligible for postseason play for rules infractions but the possibility exists where they can claim the Associated Press national championship if they are the No. 1 team in the AP poll come season’s end.

If both Louisville and Ohio State manage to finish the season undefeated, look for even more outrage and drama over how the BCS is incapable of selecting the true national champion.

As teams hang on the fringe of being selected to lucrative BCS bowl games, getting a shot at the national championship or being left out of the BCS picture altogether, expect to see possibly just as much lobbying and debating in the college football world as there was in the presidential race.

 

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