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Wednesday, October 12


BCS Explained

Raise your hand if you hate the BCS? I do. Now, raise your hand if love the BCS? Me again. If we abolished the BCS and went with a simple eight team playoff or a plus one game after the bowls, what would we have to discuss, loathe, argue about, or scratch our heads over? March Madness is fabulous and the selection process a mystery at times, but at least the top at-large college basketball teams are decided largely by people (and the RPI) instead of by computers and hundredths of a point. The BCS is broken. If you don’t believe me, ask Auburn or USC or Miami. Who will we be asking at the end of this season?

Presently, we have nine undefeated teams with legitimate national championship claims: USC, UCLA, Texas, Texas Tech, Penn State, Alabama, Georgia, Florida State, and Virginia Tech. Based on schedules and conference affiliations, we could have at most five undefeated teams (Pac 10, Big 10, ACC, SEC, and Big 12) or obviously as few as zero at season’s end. Texas and Texas Tech play on Oct. 22nd and USC and UCLA play on Dec 3rd. None of the other teams play any other undefeated teams in the regular season. If Alabama and Georgia remain undefeated, they will play for the SEC Championship on Dec. 3rd in Atlanta, likewise for Florida State and Virginia Tech on Dec. 3rd in Jacksonville for the ACC championship. Penn State doesn’t play anyone else in the regular season that is undefeated and wouldn’t play in a conference title game if they win out.

So, there is a chance of an apocalyptic finish in early December. This is unlikely though. Running the table in the SEC would be shocking. Alabama wasn’t a top team coming into the season and still must face LSU, Tennessee, and Auburn. But Auburn wasn’t highly rated at the beginning of last season, and the Tigers went 13-0. Georgia has an easier road but hasn’t played Florida yet which usually gets the best of the Bulldogs. Penn State has tough road games left in Ann Arbor and East Lansing. Texas Tech still can’t be taken seriously until they get through Austin. UCLA is making the 4th quarter comebacks look routine but still must play Arizona State and USC. The Trojans don’t have an easy road either. In fact, they have probably the toughest of those left standing. USC must survive Notre Dame, Cal and UCLA. No one can claim the Pac 10 is weak this year. Virginia Tech should keep winning as they draw both Boston College and Miami at home where they rarely lose. Florida State has some ACC road games left but nothing substantial until they visit Florida to end the season.

Those are the future roadblocks. Where are we now? The first BCS standings will not be released until next week. The formula is not so secretive. The BCS has just three parts. First, the school’s point total in the Harris Interactive Poll as a percentage of total points. Second, the school’s point total in the USA Today Coaches Poll as a percentage of total points. And last, the average of six computer polls with the high and low discarded. Three parts each equally weighed. Currently, Texas is loved by the pollsters as #2 in both polls. We are not as strong in the computers. Ohio State was a big non conference win yet the Buckeyes loss on Saturday and slip in the polls don’t help us.

Using publicly available internet data, here is my best guess if the BCS standings were released today. I used the same formula as the real rankings with one caveat. One computer ranking is secret until next week so it wasn’t used at all. If all computer rankings were available the BCS would use four out of six with the high and low thrown out. The sixth computer isn’t available, so I used three out of five with the high and low thrown out. The last computer ranking could change things slightly but not drastically. Here is what we have now:

Harris Coaches Computer Total
0.9867 0.9961 0.8933 0.9587 1. USC
0.9537 0.9600 0.7333 0.8823 2. Texas
0.9105 0.9194 0.8133 0.8811 3. VA Tech
0.8463 0.8323 0.9467 0.8751 4. Florida State
0.8512 0.8697 0.8800 0.8670 5. Georgia
0.7432 0.7458 0.8667 0.7852 6. Alabama
0.6474 0.6077 0.9867 0.7473 7. Penn State

If the season ended today, we would be in the Rose Bowl against USC, barely. The season does not end today. All four teams below us have tougher schedules to finish the season. In order for Texas to remain number 2, we must win, impress the voters, and hold tightly onto our number 2 rankings in both polls. It wouldn’t hurt if Colorado lost and then won out or if Ohio State got their act together and won out and reached a BCS game or if the five teams below us and maybe even the one above dropped a game on the way in. There will be much to discuss in weeks ahead. As Mack said in yesterday’s press conference, “If we keep doing our business, the BCS thing will take care of itself.”

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