OK, OK. Enough already! Bandwagon hoppers who can't use their brains really annoy me. Obviously, in sports, the target of the hour is the BCS.
Now I've been quick and vigorous in my criticism of the BCS. Actually I don't fault the BCS itself. My criticism has always centered around a few basic things.
1. There is no guarantee that the BCS will accomplish what people expect it to accomplish. People expect the BCS to boil the college football season down to two consensus teams who will then play in a bowl game with the winner becoming the consensus #1 team in the country. Well, as we can see, the BCS can't promise a consensus on the top 2 teams in the country so it can't promise a consensus champion.
2. Where there is room for human intervention, in the selection of at-large teams and in placing the other 6 BCS teams, the system seems less geared to generate great games (this year is an exception - we appear to have 4 great games for a change) and more geared to generate revenue. See Notre Dame's lone BCS venture for evidence of this.
3. The conference champs that get automatic bids aren't always among the best teams in the nation, thus making it difficult to produce a great slate of games. See the year Maryland and Illinois made the BCS for more on this.
4. There is not enough crcross-play between the conferences to statistically measure with any accuracy what the BCS tries to measure.
I do understand how the BCS formula works, what it is supposed to do and what it is not supposed to do. I don't complain when it does something it is supposed to do or doesn't do something it is not supposed to do. Simply, the BCS tries to measure which teams perform the best throughout the season, against the strongest competition. No more. No less.
Finally, I realize that, while it is almost as much fun to pile on computers as it is to pile on the BCS, computers are nothing more than instruction-following machines. If you don't like what comes out, don't blame them. Blame whoever gave the instructions.
With all that said, here's what I'm really getting sick of hearing.
1. How can a team not win their conference championship game and play for the national championship? Because, within the BCS formula, a conference championship is no different than any other game on a team's schedule. A game is a game-period.
2. How can a team be #1 in the country and not be playing for the national championship? Because USC played a weak schedule this year. The BCS formula unfortunately doesn't factor in that USC tried to play a decent schedule. How were they to know that Auburn, Notre Dame and the entire Pac-10 would stink this year? Here again, all the BCS computers care about is how you did and how your opponents did (and how your opponents' opponents did if you want to get right down to it).
On this one, I have less of a hard time with the computers and more of a hard time with the pollsters. If the coaches and writers had any stones they would have made LSU #1. Of course if they had any stones they wouldn't automatically drop a team 5 places when they lose to a higher ranked team (i.e. when they lose a game they are supposed to lose), or treat a team the same whether they barely win against a weak team or stomp a strong team. We could go on and on for weeks about the stupid things pollsters do. I for one relish the objectivity of the BCS over the sometimes insane subjectivity of the polls.
3. How come Miami, OH is #3 and #4 in some of the computer rankings? How come TCU is #11 in Anderson's? How come Texas is #10 in Wolfe's? The quick answer is that different computer models include and weight factors differently than other models. Miami, OH played a weak schedule, but is one of only a handful of teams remaining with one loss. So, Miami, OH will look better in models which weight W/L record more heavily. The bigger problem here, once again, is that there aren't enough cross-conference games to accurately do what these computer rankings try to do.
Stupid things people say:
"I can't think of any other sport where the champion doesn't play the next best team in a playoff." Former Iowa Head Coach, Hayden Fry.
I can. College Basketball. Rarely does the #1 team in the country actually win the NCAA Tournament. Even more rarely does the tournament boil down to #1 vs. #2. Miracles and upsets are great entertainment. But what makes them miracles and upsets is the fact that the better, stronger team loses. I'm not here to say which is the correct way to go. I just get annoyed when people want to complain and try to make the problem out to be some kind of aberration when it isn't.
"I think we've got to work on the methodology of picking the teams rather than the structure." Pac-10 Commissioner, Tom Hansen.
And this will fix what? The current structure has two teams playing in one bowl game to determine the national champion. This year, as in years past, there are more than two teams equally suited for those two spots. The problem isn't which two teams you selected. The problem is that you could only select two when more were deserving.
"This is why computers shouldn't run the world." (Sorry, missed the source on this one and can't find it again).
First of all, no one is saying that computers should run the world. Second, how is this a computer fault? Once again, the BCS computer is just doing what it has been told to do. That part of everything worked just fine. The nice thing about computers is that they take input and process it BEFORE they produce output. This is an enjoyable contrast to the many who circulate with mouth on and brain off.
"How could this happen?" Take your pick. So many people have asked this about so many things including the subject du jour.
OK, we've already talked at length about how this happened. Basically, the current system doesn't prevent this from happening so it was only a matter of time before it happened.
My problem here is that so often this question is asked in a manner that suggests that some great catalclismic tragedy has befallen mankind. That this happened is tragedy enough, but the fact that it was possible for this to happen ... well, that is just unfathomable. First, if you're all bent and asking this about College Football, take a rest. It's only a game. But now, let's step away from the game for a moment. This is life! Crap happens! If you're running around thinking that somehow it's possible to prevent bizarre things from happening, you're deluded. Go vote for Dennis Kucinich, take your valium and shut up!
The biggest problem of all: People are not wired for unanimity. There is not complete agreement that Ohio State was #1 last year. Many feel Oregon and not Nebraska should have played Miami in the Rose Bowl the year before. The last Presidential election? Please. Let's not even go there. Point is, it doesn't matter what you do, how many teams you pick, how you pick them, or how many games you play. Change, adjust, tweak. It doesn't matter. You'll never get everyone to agree.
That's OK by me. It gives us all something to talk about.
Originally posted at Terrible Swift Word.