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Distractions From Property Law: BCS Banter

What to do when your sanity requires a break from the drudgery that is property law?

Browse BCS history, that's what. As noted in a FanPost, the conference commissioners met this week to discuss the possibility of playoffs and voted - perhaps predictably - to continue with the current BCS format, at least through 2014. As quickly found out, the commissioners are not exactly in step with the overwhelming majority of fan preference:


If only we had a consensus...


According to's Mark Schlabach, only the ACC and SEC commissioners were interested in discussing a playoff, with the remaining four conference commissioners and Notre Dame Athletic Director Kevin White flatly rejecting the idea - be it a multi-team playoff or a plus-one system.

That story sent me to the BCS wiki page to look at how each conference has fared since the BCS was implemented. With some basic accounting, I was able to sort out some quick and dirty performance metrics for each conference over the BCS' 10-year history:

Conference At-Large Berths Title Game Appearances National Titles Record in BCS Games
Big 10 7 3 1 8-9
ACC 0 3 1 1-9
Big 12 41 5 2 6-8
SEC 5 4 4 11-4
Big East 0 3 1 6-4
Pac 10 2 2 1 8-4
ND 3 0 0 0-3
Non-BCS 3 0 0 2-1

1The Big 12 has twice sent a team that didn't win the conference championship game (Nebraska 2001, OU 2003) to the BCS Title Game, both of whom are counted above as at-large participants. 

Assorted Thoughts

* The ACC, not Big  East, is the redheaded stepchild of the BCS. Even taking away Miami's 2-1 record as a member of the Big East, the conference has comfortably outperformed the woeful ACC. Florida State (lost '98 title game, won '99 title) was strong in the BCS' formative years, but as it has faded to mediocrity, so has the conference.

* For what it's worth: At-large BCS teams are 12-8 in BCS games.

* Both the Big 10 and Big 12 have garnered more bids, but it's the SEC that has performed best in the big money bowls thus far. Sample size caveats apply, but a .733 win percentage and 4 national titles in 5 as many tries ain't shabby.

* Notre Dame is bad at football. But good at optimism.

* Three teams - Utah, Boise State, and Hawaii - have clawed their way into a BCS game, with the Utes and Broncos picking up wins. At the risk of wading too deeply into meta waters, this is one reason why I like the idea of a playoff. There's enough parity in college football that it's silly to crown two teams the best of a given year and limit the ultimate prize to them and them alone. Boise State's ceiling? A trophy filled with Tostitos dipping chips. Meh.

* Without question, television contracts have an enormous role in all this. A proper review of the situation would look at the current deals in place, their expiration, and whether the conferences and broadcasters stood to make more money from a playoff system. Among all the variables, this one's probably dispositive.

* As always, there's probably a lot more to learn with a more robust look at all the available data. In an alternate universe where I actually had enough free time, I'd want to know:

  1. Profiles of at-large teams. How did they earn their bids? What was their non-conference strength of schedule? How strong was their conference?
  2. Profiles of national title participants. How strong was the field of suitors for the berth? How many teams might we reasonable argue were unjustly excluded from a shot at title glory?
  3. What correlation exists between preseason ranking and likelihood of BCS bowl participation? Between preseason ranking and national title game participation?
  4. Do the make-up, intra-conference scheduling policies, or existence of a conference championship game have any bearing on likelihood of BCS participation?

Though we rarely, if ever, get it from mainstream reporting on the topic, there's a substantive discussion to be had about these types of questions. Ironically, a day after this nonsense, I'm happy to say that the discussion is alive and well on, yes, the interwebs. Those damn radical kids...