The King is dead. Long live the King! There is no doubt the Bowl Championship Series which began in 1998 has delivered princely sums of money to the NCAA football royalty that participated in it every year. There is also no denying the unending annual arguments about the viability of the entire program. The participants in the annual BCS National Championship Game of Division I college football are the two teams ranked the highest in the BCS year end standings. Those rankings are obtained by averaging the Harris Interactive media poll, six separate participating computer rankings, former players and coaches and the final weekly USA Today Coaches Poll of the season.
But employing such a convoluted method of determining the best two teams out of the 119 Division I major college football programs which mathematically have a shot has created heated arguments since day one. So how was such a universally hated ranking system adopted? It came about after the UPI and AP polls each crowned a different champion in 1990, UPI naming Georgia Tech the national champion and the AP recognizing Colorado as the nation’s best college team. That eventually gave way to the Bowl Coalition which operated from 1992 through 1994, which built on existing conference agreements with particular bowl games. Doomed to failure because of its proprietary favoritism towards certain teams in certain bowl games, the Bowl Coalition ended in its infancy in 1994 due to the #1 ranked coalition team of Nebraska being unable to play #2 ranked Penn State, who was already committed to the Rose Bowl.
That gave birth to the 1995 Bowl Alliance that included the Orange, Sugar and Fiesta Bowls. Conference tie-ins were disbanded, and instead 4 conference champions and two at-large teams to be announced would play for the national title according to an annually changing and predetermined schedule. But since the Big Ten, Pac-10 and Rose Bowl were not a part of this particular system, the Bowl Alliance Championship crown in 1997 was heavily disputed, with Nebraska winning the Alliance and Coaches Poll, while Michigan won the Rose Bowl and also the Associated Press vote.
That brings us to the birth of the Bowl Championship Series in 1998, a system which independent teams and smaller conference teams argue never gives them a chance to play for the national championship. It seems that every year would present multiple undefeated teams or teams in non-BCS conferences who reasonably argued they also should be playing for the title. Come 2014, they will get their chance. NCAA officials in a mere 3 hours undid 14 years of BCS dominance on June 26 when they voted for a four team national championship playoff system.
Much like the current selection system for the annual NCAA Basketball Tournament, a selection committee will choose the four semifinalists who will play for the National Championship of College Football. No conference will receive an automatic bid, and the two semifinal games will rotate between 6 bowl sites over a 12 year period. The participating bowl games have not yet been selected, and the championship game will be held each December 31 or January 1 on a neutral site, with prospective cities bidding for the right to host the event.
Two huge hurdles for this new playoff system include revenue distribution and television contract, with the current BCS TV contract ending after the 2013 season. Ed Ray is the president of Oregon State, and when asked how this new “bidding for the national championship game” and revenue system might change, he simply responded, “Up.” Up is certainly the current feelings of anyone who despised the BCS system, but how will you feel at the end of the 2014 season when the selection committee has your favorite college team ranked as the fifth best NCAA football squad of the year?
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