It’s a little early in the season to be talking about the BCS, but they’ve been messing around with the formula again, so the Turkey thought he’d better let you know about it. Now, there will be an extra BCS game, which means that there are ten BCS slots instead of eight.
Ostensibly, this formula was concocted with the intent of improving how we determine the national chamption. This Turkey thinks that it fails to do so. Until we have single elimination playoff, conjectures and subjectivity still prevail. Thus, the Turkey will continue to refer to the national championship as the Still Somewhat Mythical National Championship (SSMNC).
Before I get to this year’s formula, let me say that last year worked out to everybody’s satisfaction with respect to determining a national champion but that was due to an accident of fate. Two teams, USC and Texas, stood out from all the rest as the season concluded, and they wound up playing each other for the championship. In most years, this kind of clarity does not exist.
So, how does the BCS work this year? Here’s the schedule of BCS Bowl games:
Jan. 1, 2007 – Fiesta Bowl
Jan. 1, 2007 – Rose Bowl
Jan. 2, 2007 – Orange Bowl
Jan. 3, 2007 – Sugar Bowl
Jan. 8, 2007 – BCS National Championship Game (Glendale, Ariz.)
The first four games will be played for the respective Bowl trophy, and that will be the end of the line for those eight teams. The two teams selected for the January 8 game will play for the SSMNC. So, all we’re doing here is adding an extra game, which will rotate among the four bowl locations. Here is how the BCS describes this thing:
The BCS is a five-game arrangement for post-season college football that is designed to match up the two top-rated teams in a national championship game and to create exciting and competitive matchups between eight other highly regarded teams in four other games.
The Turkey Wants to Know: If we wind up with 10 teams with one loss each, for a simple-minded example, tell me how the “national championship game” decides the national championship.
Aren’t we merely watering down the BCS pool even more than it is already? This Turkey thinks so. Perhaps the changes were made not in the interest of increased clarification of the national championship—maybe they were made to expand inclusivity to silence some of the whiners from minor conferences who have chronically been excluded from the mix. That sounds good, anyway. More likely, it’s all about the money. Here’s the formula:
The champions of the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific-10 and Southeastern Conferences will continue to play annually in one of the BCS bowls through the post-season following the 2007 regular season. In addition, one conference champion from among Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, Sun Belt, and Western Athletic Conferences will automatically qualify to play in a BCS bowl if it is:
(1) ranked among the top 12 teams in the final BCS standings; or
(2) ranked among the top 16 teams in the final BCS standings and ranked higher than the champion of one of the conferences whose champion has an annual automatic berth in a BCS bowl.
Under the new BCS arrangement Notre Dame will be guaranteed one of the at-large slots in a BCS bowl if it is ranked No. 8 or better in the final BCS standings. It is also guaranteed annual payment for its participation in the BCS. In those seasons in which the Irish play in a BCS bowl game, the school will receive $4.5 million (an amount equivalent to that received by a conference that places a second team in a BCS bowl). In those seasons in which Notre Dame does not play in a BCS bowl game, it is projected to be paid $1.3 million for its participation in the BCS arrangement.
As in the [past] BCS arrangement, no more than two teams from the same conference may play in the BCS bowls in any particular season.
So are you getting the same picture I’m getting? If so, you have Turkey Vision, which this birdbrain translates to “mo’ money.” Let’s add an extra game, sell more tickets and TV rights, and make lots more money. Determination of a real national champion is incidental to these pecuniary interests.
It is anticipated that payments to those conferences whose champions have an annual automatic berth in a BCS bowl game will be approximately $17 million following the 2006 regular season and increase to $18.5 million for the BCS bowl games played following the 2009 regular season. Any conference placing a second team in one of the BCS bowls will continue to receive a payment of $4.5 million for such team.
And Fox won the rights to broadcast all the BCS games except for the Rose Bowl, which ABC will continue to broadcast through 2014.
The Turkey Wants to Know: If there can only be one team from each conference, how can a conference place a second team in one of the BCS bowls? I’m scratching my head here.
Now, you might be wondering what happens after the 2007 season with respect to which conference champions are automatically included in the BCS mix. Here is the explanation:
After the 2007 season, automatic qualification standards will be applied to all 11 Division I-A conferences to determine the number of conferences whose champion will automatically qualify for a BCS game for the next two seasons (’08 and ’09). Each conference will be evaluated on each of the previous four seasons (’04, ’05, ’06, ’07), based on membership during the ’07 season. The champions of no fewer than five conferences and no more than seven conferences will have annual automatic berths in the BCS bowl games played following the 2008 and 2009 regular season.
If you can figure this out, go ahead. I don’t have the patience to fathom it. But I think that the object is to fix the inequities between the so-called major conferences (which currently include the Big Least) and the up-and-comers.
So, it looks like a Division I-A championship playoff is not in the offing until at least the twenty-teens. The lifespan of a Nittany Turkey might not be long enough to see it if it ever happens. But perhaps if they keep messing with it and don’t get caught up in too many revenue enhancement schemes, they might eventually get it right in somebody’s lifetime. In the meanwhile, it’s still a somewhat mythical national championship.