Is the BCS supposed to be fair?

Let me say up front that I have my own issues with the BCS. I believe it is in the best interests of college football to do away with the current format after the four-year contract between the BCS and ESPN expires after the games of January 2014.

I would like to see a seeded four-team playoff.  We would put the magic back into New Year’s Day by playing the semifinals in two of the big bowls on Jan. 1. A week later the two winners would play for the national championship. I believe this is the best way to move the sport forward without disrupting the current college football calendar and while keeping the bowl system intact.

And believe me folks, the university presidents are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the bowl system and the current college football calendar. Any changes in the post-season will have to fall within those presidential parameters. The presidents run the show. Not the media. Not the fans. Not the coaches or the players. The presidents who make up the BCS oversight committee will ultimately make this call.

Therefore, any proposed change to the system has to be rational and fact based, not emotion based. The presidents are not going to vote for an eight-team playoff because the majority of the fans and the media want it. They are not going to vote for a playoff because politicians know that bashing the BCS is like bashing the IRS: It’s easy and it plays well to the folks back home.

Now all of that is a preface to our question of the day:

Is the BCS supposed to be fair?

I’m serious.

What prompted the question was an email I received from Mr. Alan Fishel, whose law firm represents the fine people at the Mountain West Conference. In his email Mr. Fishel included a “BCS Revenue Discrimination Chart.”

I did not make that up.

Mr. Fishel’s point was that over the past four years the Mountain West and the WAC, who do not have automatic qualifier status,  have outperformed the ACC and the Big East (who do get automatic bids) when it comes to BCS TV ratings, rankings, and attendance. Here is his chart:

http://www.arentfox.com/email/fishel/BCS%20Revenue%20Discrimation%20Chart.pdf

Counselor, I will stipulate that your figures are correct and those conferences have performed better over the past four years than the Big East and ACC.

Mr. Fishel also points out that that the six equity conferences that formed the BCS back in 1998 (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10) have benefitted  substantially more from the BCS than the other five Division I-A conferences. Again, Mr. Fishel is right. In fact, I went back to 2004 when Urban Meyer’s Utah team earned a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.  Here are the total dollars paid out by the BCS, per conference, since 2004.

Big Ten——————$128.2 million

SEC———————–$123.6 million

Big 12——————–$119.1 million

Pac 10——————-$105.6 million

ACC———————-$105.6 million

Big East——————$105.6 million

Mountain West———-$42.4 million

WAC————————$31.3 million

C-USA———————-$12.6 million

MAC————————$9.7 million

Sun Belt——————–$8.2 million

Note: Notre Dame earned about $23 million in this same time period.

If you are keeping score at home, that’s about $687 million that has gone to the six equity or “privileged” conferences (as Senator Orrin Hatch likes to lovingly call them) and about $104 million to the other five “non-privileged” conferences. That’s a gap of about $583 million over six years.

Mr. Fishel goes on to say that “The revenue discrimination chart attached is meant to begin the process of shining light on what is occurring and will continue to occur, under the  BCS unless there are significant changes.”

Just out of curiosity I did a Google search on the words “BCS” and “fair” and there were tons of items, including Boise State president Robert Kustra who, not surprisingly, had looked at Mr. Fishel’s numbers and decided that the BCS was not “fair.”

I get nervous when politicians, media, and college presidents start throwing around words like “fair.” It is a moving definition. Some people think that if their neighbor drives a nicer car than them that it’s not fair. The term is too vague.

But however it is defined I must ask again: Where is it written that the BCS is SUPPOSED to be fair?

Here is the problem that I have with Mr. Fishel’s sometimes breathless argument:

No. 1: All of these numbers he cites are a matter of public record. Nobody has to shine a light on anything. It’s all out there. The six BCS equity conferences that put this deal together in 1998 and marketed it and grew it make a lot more money from this deal than the other five conferences. It was designed that way in 1998 by the television networks who were putting up the money. No news there.

No. 2: I want the five non-equity conferences to get as much money as they can out of the BCS pool. Keep pushing. Keep negotiating. Keep reminding the other conferences of your value. The Mountain West has a chance to play its way in to an automatic bid in 2012 and 2013.

But to say these conferences are the victims of “revenue discrimination” (I’ve got to write that one down for future use) is to presume they had a pre-existing claim to the BCS money pool that is somehow being denied.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany mentioned this last week and it bears repeating: Colleges and universities have institutional advantages based on geography, tradition, enrollment, endowments, etc. Institutions trade on those advantages, in some cases built over 100 years, in order to field the best athletics teams, the best law schools or to hire the best faculty. The lawyers produced at East Idaho State Teachers College may be every bit as good as those who from Harvard. But the lawyer with a sheepskin from Harvard has an advantage and that, gentle readers, ain’t gonna change.

So let’s tone down the rhetoric about “revenue discrimination” and come up with a plan that works. If the Mountain West keeps doing what it’s doing, it will become the seventh conference with an automatic bid in 2012. Then that league will get a full share of the BCS pie. The five non-automatic qualifier conferences were given a path to become an AQ.  The MWC, I believe, is going to succeed.

Last season, for the first time ever, two teams from non-AQ conferences (Boise State, TCU) went to a BCS Bowl. As a result the five conferences shared a record $24 million. Should they get more?

Yes, and they will. This year the BCS contract improves from $80 million per year (under Fox) to $125 million per year (under ESPN). So if the MWC and WAC get back to the BCS there will be more money available.

Maybe I’m wrong about all of this. Maybe the BCS should just throw all the money into one pot so that the Sun Belt and the Mid-American conferences, which have sent no teams to BCS bowls, will get the exact same share as the SEC, which has won four straight national championships and sent 10 teams to the BCS in six years. Maybe that would be the “fair” thing to do.

You tell me.

Please follow me on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/MrCFB

PROGRAMMING NOTE: I will be subbing for Brandon Adams today on the “Brandon and Woolvey Show” at 11 a.m. on 790 The Zone. We’ll be taking a detailed look at the SEC, ACC, and Top 25 heading into the summer.

www.790thezone.com

255 comments Add your comment

Tide Rising

May 27th, 2010
1:28 pm

People love to whine about the bcs but if you go back and look at it other than AU in 2004 can anyone really point out someone that completely got screwed? Not really.Go back and look at every year that the bcs has been in effect since 1998 and you would be hard pressed other than OU over AU in 2004 to find a year where the 2 teams most deserving of being in the bcs title game weren’t in it. The fact of the matter is that in practically every year except maybe 2004 the bcs system got it right.

Georgia in 07 and Texas in 08 may complain but when you get right down to it they didn’t even win their divisions much less their respective conferences. Texas narrowly escaped Ohio State in their bowl and the way they were physically dominated in the game by OSU made their complaints about being left out of the bcs title game moot. They might be 2 3rd place teams that have a beef but even then they really don’t.

And people may complain about the cutoff being at 4 games and argue “What about the 5th team that gets left out?” Come on? Go and look at every year of the bcs or really every year going back 20 or 30 years. In virtually every instance there is debate concerning the top 2 or 3 teams. Sometimes there is a debate concerning whether even the 4th rated team is deserving of a bcs title shot even though I can’t think of a year where the 4th ranked team had a legit argument. I can think of some years where a great 3rd team got left out and that’s about it. But you never hear anyone ranked 5th at the end of the year complaining about not getting in the bcs title game. Usually there is enough separation between the top 2-3 teams and the occasional 4th team that if you;re complaining because you’re the 5th team and you got left out then the truth of the matter is that you didn’t have much of an argument to begin with.

The bottom line is that what people don’t want to admit is that except for one year the bcs has largely got it right every year since 1998. And if we do go to a 4 team format and a 5th team gets left out then shut up. If you weren’t good enough to finish in the top 2-3 or even the top 4 you don’t have much of an argument.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:28 pm

“I bet he has been to a bunch of Final Fours as well.”

I have, and just this past season……..well, you know what happened. GO BLUE!

kgator79

May 27th, 2010
1:30 pm

This Auburn character is actually quite entertaining. Next we will find out he played for Duke, fought and helped capture Sadam in Iraq and won the nobel prize for his assisted theory on improved road pavement for Auburn.

Scott

May 27th, 2010
1:31 pm

Why is it that people say Auburn got screwed in 2004? The top two teams played for the national championship and Auburn wasn’t one of them. They got no more screwed than Utah did in 2008 or Boise State did last year.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:31 pm

“Next we will find out he played for Duke, fought and helped capture Sadam in Iraq and won the nobel prize for his assisted theory on improved road pavement for Auburn.”

No, can’t say I did any of that stuff although it would have been awesome to beat the crap out of Saddam.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:31 pm

BTW all,

Auburn has a special on Sociology degress right now, only $19.95 (includes postage & handling) and included is a free ginzu knife and an automatic tryout for the basketball team.

WDE

Scott

May 27th, 2010
1:33 pm

This Auburn character also was present when man first stepped foot on the moon and was present when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:33 pm

“They got no more screwed than Utah did in 2008 or Boise State did last year.”

In 2004 Utah didn’t play one ranked team.

In 2004 OU played one ranked team.

In 2004 AU played 5 top ranked teams……….

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:34 pm

“This Auburn character also was present when man first stepped foot on the moon and was present when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down.”

No, that would have been awesome though.

Scott

May 27th, 2010
1:34 pm

For the most part Auburn has only been moderately successful when Alabama has been shooting itself in the foot.

kgator79

May 27th, 2010
1:35 pm

I place money on the fact that Auburn boy doesnt even know where Duke is even located and probably believes the road next to the campus is named Tobacoo Road.

Scott

May 27th, 2010
1:36 pm

Oklahoma is also one of the traditional powers and is one of the programs that built college football. Hate to break it to you but Auburn is not.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:36 pm

“For the most part Auburn has only been moderately successful when Alabama has been shooting itself in the foot.”

Same with Bammer.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:37 pm

“Oklahoma is also one of the traditional powers and is one of the programs that built college football.”

Yeah, they were real powerful in that 55-19 beat down against USC……..

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:37 pm

“I place money on the fact that Auburn boy doesnt even know where Duke is even located and probably believes the road next to the campus is named Tobacoo Road.’

And where and how will you make this bet?

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:40 pm

“Oklahoma is also one of the traditional powers and is one of the programs that built college football.”

USC 55 OU 19

FL 24 OU 14

LSU 21 OU 14

Miami 21 OU 14

Yep, OU is some powerhouse…….

Scott

May 27th, 2010
1:41 pm

“Same with Bammer.”

Finally we agree! Bama has been successful when not shooting themselves in the foot.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
1:43 pm

“Finally we agree! Bama has been successful when not shooting themselves in the foot.”

Yeah, up until 2 years ago, Bama was just awesome. LOL

PMC

May 27th, 2010
2:02 pm

Of course not. It is designed to pit 1 vs 2 in a system that puts as much money in the coffers of the old standard programs as possible.

If this is not the case, then why does a Notre Dame team that has been largely non competitive for 2 decades have the deal that they do?

Anti-alternative

May 27th, 2010
2:04 pm

I love how someone’s trying to claim that OU helped build college football. Ya know who built college football? Oh yeah, the Ivy League! Southern teams gained respect only as they began to take on and beat Northern teams. Heck, Georgia chose to change to the Bulldogs (they had formerly been the goats and the wildcats) because of ties to famous football powerhouse Yale. Even GT has a holdover from those days – the rivalry with Notre Dame.Those were college football’s truly formative years. Yes, OU has quite a pile of MNC’s, but who has the most TO THIS DAY? Princeton!

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
2:06 pm

“Oh yeah, the Ivy League!”

CORRECT! Princeton or Yale has the most titles. 24 or something like that.

Anti-alternative

May 27th, 2010
2:06 pm

I love trivia. I know it’s useless, but I’m just sayin…

McDawg

May 27th, 2010
2:09 pm

If Campbell ever gets behind an O-Line, he is going to be a great QB-some receivers might help as well

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
2:10 pm

“If Campbell ever gets behind an O-Line, he is going to be a great QB-some receivers might help as well”

Yes he will. Campbell is a really good qb. Washington had such crappy coaching. Too bad they picked up an aging has been.

Anti-alternative

May 27th, 2010
2:11 pm

Actually one of the oft-forgotten facts of the GT-UGA rivalry is that each institution has ties to another heated rivalry. See, GT had a lot of early engineering and architecture faculty from Harvard. One of UGA’s Presidents was from Yale. And there have been odd and quirky academic ties along those lines to each institution throughout the years. I doubt this has any effect on fans, but I know at least the faculty as GT is aware of it. Still have some Crimson grads on staff.

Anti-alternative

May 27th, 2010
2:12 pm

Charlie Bama

May 27th, 2010
2:20 pm

Hey, I’m back. Any messages for me while I was away?

Gen Neyland

May 27th, 2010
3:12 pm

What’s next..? Utah Utes demanding to play for all the marbles..! Oh. Never mind. That’s already happened. Next on the social agenda, the prettiest, hard bodied Teachers that didn’t pick me to have sex with back in my high school days. Now there’s something that should have been equalled out. I want justice now, retroactively..!

kgator79

May 27th, 2010
3:15 pm

Gen Neyland…

I always laugh when the media tries to make the boys in those situations out to be a victim.

wesleywhatwhat

May 27th, 2010
3:16 pm

uh oh, something is definitely wrong here. i find myself agreeing with something tony “mr sec football” barnhart wrote:

“playing the semifinals in two of the big bowls on Jan. 1. A week later the two winners would play for the national championship”

this sounds very doable and maybe even necessary.

Marc S

May 27th, 2010
3:45 pm

Bradley G wrote:
“I would be curious to see how the ratings were generated. What were the ratings when a MWC/WAC team played against each other versus one of those teams playing against one of the Big 6 conference teams?”

2010 Fiesta Bowl: Boise State (WAC) vs TCU (MWC)
TV Rating: 8.2
Attendance: 73,227

2010 Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech (ACC) vs Iowa (Big Ten)
TV Rating: 6.8
Attendance: 66,131

That’s two non-AQs playing each other, vs two AQs playing each other. The non-AQs beat the snot out of the AQs in both TV ratings and attendance. Same year, on nearly the same day. Any questions?

Navigator

May 27th, 2010
3:51 pm

The BCS is suppose to make money for the CFA and nothing else. Only the sportswriters believe it’s something else.

Delbert D.

May 27th, 2010
3:55 pm

Some data:

2004 Auburn OOC opponents
–UL-Monroe
–The Citadel
–La. Tech

2004 Oklahoma OOC opponents
–Bowling Green
–Houston
–Oregon

Delbert D.

May 27th, 2010
4:10 pm

“Oklahoma is also one of the traditional powers and is one of the programs that built college football.”

AP Poll Records: Most weeks ranked #1 – All Time (Since 1936)
(Does not count pre-season ranking)

89 Notre Dame
88 Oklahoma
86 Ohio St.
85 Southern Cal
65 Nebraska
62 Miami
53 Florida State
46 Texas
34 Alabama
32 Michigan
28 Michigan State
27 Army
27 Florida
20 Pittsburgh
19 Penn State
18 LSU
18 Minnesota
17 Tennessee
14 Georgia
14 Washington
10 Iowa
7 Texas A&M
6 Auburn, Colorado, Maryland, Syracuse, UCLA
5 Northwestern
4 BYU, Cal, Cornell, Mississippi, Purdue
3 Virginia
2 Clemson, Missouri, SMU, TCU
1 Arkansas, Boston College, North Carolina, Wisconsin

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
4:11 pm

“2004 Oklahoma OOC opponents
–Bowling Green
–Houston
–Oregon”

All unranked teams in 2004…… Bowling Green pulled out to play OU….

Next……

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
4:13 pm

“AP Poll Records: Most weeks ranked #1″

“88 Oklahoma”

How many times did OU finish at number one?

Hint: not 88

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
4:14 pm

“2004 Auburn OOC opponents
–UL-Monroe
–The Citadel
–La. Tech

2004 Oklahoma OOC opponents
–Bowling Green
–Houston
–Oregon”

Quick fact: Auburn played more ranked teams than OU did in 2004.

Another quick fact: Florida played the Citadel in 2008……no one says a peep……….

Bias? YOU BETCHA!!!!

Delbert D.

May 27th, 2010
4:19 pm

AP Poll Records: Most weeks ranked #1 – All Time (Since 1936)

Data is through the 2008 season; in other words, last year is not included. Florida and Alabama (and Texas?) numbers would be increased.

Tide Rising

May 27th, 2010
4:22 pm

Just checking back in. Have to admit I crack up every time I see Auburn2004 (aka Forrest Gump and a couple other handles) tell someone they have the intelligence of a carrot.

Auburn2004 I do have to disagree with you on Oklahoma’s status as one of college football’s all time great programs. A few bad games in the 2000s doesn’t diminish some of the incredible achievements of the OU program. OU has a national title in 2000, one of 7 legit national titles, They have something crazy like near 30 conference championships, they are top 5 or 7 I think in all time # of wins and winning %, they are tied with Alabama for the most 10 win or more seasons at 30. Its a very storied program and a handful of losses doesn’t erase 100+ years of excellence.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
4:31 pm

“Auburn2004 I do have to disagree with you on Oklahoma’s status as one of college football’s all time great programs.”

It’s easy to have a great program when their particular conference has 2 – 3 good teams. OU and Nebraska in years passed are the only great football schools of the Big 12. Texas only got back in the mix of things when Mac Brown came along.

“A few bad games in the 2000s doesn’t diminish some of the incredible achievements of the OU program.”

A few? Go back to the 80’s and Switzer could not beat Miami.

“Its a very storied program and a handful of losses doesn’t erase 100+ years of excellence.”

Look, I was basically pointing out that in recent years, OU has been way overrated. ESPN and others like to point out history as to why a football team is great or not. Notre Dame is another over-hyped current football program. A few years ago when ND faced LSU in the Sugar Bowl, Lee Corso and others said that ND would manhandle LSU and touted ND’s past seasons.

Bottom line: A football teams “history” doesn’t mean squat in a current situation. Example: USC had a great team in 04 but that doesn’t mean that they could take on Bama today because of 2004.

Make sense?

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
4:33 pm

Tide Rising

Also, look at UF. Until Spurrier came to town, Florida was a third rate football school. Bama, TN, AU, UGA and LSU have more football “history” than other SEC schools.

And yes, I am bitter that AU doesn’t have more than one NC. They’ve had 8 undefeated seasons in their history yet they only have ONE NC to show for it. Something ain’t right.

Delbert D.

May 27th, 2010
4:35 pm

Auburn 04 –

The AP stats for 2004 show that Oklahoma played Texas, #5 (final ranking.)

The AP stats for 2004 show that Auburn played Georgia, #7, UT, #13(twice), and LSU, #16 (final rankings.)

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
4:42 pm

Delbert D.

Ok, so there you see. Auburn played more ranked teams. I added VT to the mix. Anyway, UT was ranked number 5 when they first played them. LSU was number 4 or 5 when they played them. UGA was 8 or 9 when they played them..

Just saying..

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
4:49 pm

It’s all about respect and Auburn has none.

We do like to whine though.

Just saying..

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
4:52 pm

Nice, someone stole my name.

Tide Rising

May 27th, 2010
4:56 pm

Auburn04,

I understand your point but when you again mention that OU couldn’t beat Miami in the 80s it was only a 2 game series which doesn’t say a whole lot. Plus OU still won a national title in the 80s. OU over rated in the 2000s? You may very well be right about that. The 2000 team that beat FSU was a great team but after that OU kinda leveled out under Stoops. They still have good teams though even if they’ve faltered in the big ones.

Auburn 04

May 27th, 2010
5:03 pm

Tide Rising

Agreed.

Sigmond Freud

May 27th, 2010
5:06 pm

Hey, Auburn 04. Please get a job or a girlfriend. It will make a difference, I promise.

Tide Rising

May 27th, 2010
5:11 pm

“And yes, I am bitter that AU doesn’t have more than one NC. They’ve had 8 undefeated seasons in their history yet they only have ONE NC to show for it. Something ain’t right.”

Auburn 2004,

I understand your frustration about not having more national titles. AU certainly could and may end up claiming a legit title in 2004. The 11-1 AU team that finished 3rd in 1983 had a legit chance argument for being no. 1. That AU team beat 8 bowl teams which was quite a feat. I would be more upset over being passed over in 1983 than other years such as 1993.

Out of AU’s 8 unbeaten seasons though 2004 is the only season where you really have an argument. In 1993 the team was on probation and a team on probation doesn’t deserve a national title just as USC will likely have to vacate its 2004 title.

1957 is the only other unbeaten untied team in AU history that warrants a national title.

The 1958 AU team went 9-0-1 but there is that tie and so LSU won it that year with Billy Cannon.

The 1932 AU team went 9-0-1 but again there was probably someone who was perfect while AU had a tie.

Then we go back to really ancient history in 1913 and 1914 when AU went 8-0-1 again a tie to blemish the record and 8-0. With an 8-0 record there would be consideration but I’m sure there were probably at least 1 or more teams that were probably 9-0 or better. And besides there were no bowl games and no polls, practically no intersectional play so there really wasn’t any realistic way of determining national champions prior to when the bowl games were played and there was a serious level of intersectional play.

AU’s other unbeaten seasons were 1904 5-0, 1900 4-0, 1897 2-0-1, and 1893 3-0-2. You can’t reasonably expect to be named a national champion in years where 4-0 or 5-0 is an unbeaten season in the early 1900s.

So in reality we’re talking about only 3 unbeaten AND UNTIED seasons since 1913 and those years would be 1957 when a national title was given, 1993 probation and hence no title or bowl game, and 20004 for which you have a legit argument. 1993 was a one loss season but in my opinion AU has a legit beef about being left out that year.

Delbert D.

May 27th, 2010
5:16 pm

Auburn 04 – I didn’t count the bowl games, because the argument then was who should have played in which bowl.