Super Bowl Exposes Flaws in BCS System
The Super Bowl is in the books, which means that football season is officially over, at least until Spring Practices start.
More than 111 million people tuned in to watch as Eli Manning and the New York Giants edged the New England Patriots for the Vince Lombardi trophy, yet the BCS and college football claims the bowl system maintains the pageantry of the sport.
A game between two teams that few people outside of their home markets really care about attracted more viewers than any other television program in history. Compare those numbers to this season's BCS National Championship between LSU and Alabama, which drew the third-lowest ratings in the 14-year history of the BCS.
Both games were rematches of a tight, regular season matchup, yet the NFL edition drew record numbers, while the college edition was .3 ratings points away from having worse ratings than a 36-point snoozer in 2005.
The difference is all in the buildup.
The Giants went 9-7 in the regular season, not beating a team with a winning record until beating the Atlanta Falcons in the Wild Card round. The Giants built buzz by dominating the Falcons, then pulling off back-to-back upsets over the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers. If the NFL was run by the BCS, the Giants could have found themselves playing in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.
Imagine if Baylor, similarly ranked at No. 12 in the Week 15 BCS rankings, knocked off LSU – the BCS equivalent of the Giants beating Green Bay – followed it up by beating Stanford to advance to the National Championship game, finding itself taking on a traditional league power.
The story writes itself.
After this year's National Championship game, a Plus-One system has been tossed around yet again. It's a start, but still would be limited to the top four teams, and the arguments start again. The team that just hoisted the Lombardi Trophy would be sitting at home watching the game with the rest of us, if the NFL was determined by the BCS.
College football needs to wake up. The FBS is the only level of football in which the winner is not determined by a playoff. Additionally, it's the only major NCAA sport – basketball, baseball/softball, volleyball and even soccer – that does not determine its champion via some sort of playoff system.