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Breaking Down the Facts of the BCS

This is similar to the write up with Harve Perlman, but this time it is with Atlanta Journal Constitution writer Tony Barnhart.  Now before we get into Barnhart’s credentials — which will be exposed — lets get into mine and show where I am coming from.

First off this is a blog about the Mountain West, so the articles are biased toward the league, but I try to be balanced.  I did graduate from the University of Utah, plus am a member of the Mormon church so growing up I followed BYU.

However, I grew up in Houston and all the way up to high school followed the Texas Longhorns, plus I spent two plus years in college just outside of New York.

So, while I am pro-MWC I have been around the country, and followed one of the biggest football programs for about 10 years.

Now onto Barnhart’s roots, he has always lived in the Atlanta area his whole life with the exception of being in Greensboro, North Carolina for seven years.  He also went to school at the University of Georgia.  So, for his whole journalistic career he has been in the south and been around BCS leagues.

Now onto the fun part where we rip into his facts about the BCS again be patient since this is lengthy and his writings is in the indention with my input in full page, and here is his article in full.

Fact: Utah was not DENIED a chance to play for the BCS national championship. Utah had as much a chance to play for the BCS title as any other school. But 175 people voted in the Harris Interactive and coaches polls, two of the three components in the BCS formula. The 114 people in the Harris poll voted Utah seventh. The 61 coaches in the USA Today poll also voted Utah seventh and no coach—NONE—voted Utah higher than No. 5. Of the 114 people who voted in the Harris Poll only five voted Utah No. 5 or better.

OK, in my opinion Utah did not deserve to be in the BCS title game, but after their game there is an argument that Utah could beat any team.  Barnhart’s fact is half true, but the part that is completely false is that he says,

“Utah had as much a chance to play for the BCS title as any other school.”

What he forgot to mention is the rest of the sentence which should read that any other school that is in a BCS league.  The fact is that Utah and every other school not part of the six BCS leagues does not have an equal chance to make it to the BCS title.

The Sun Belt must take on the SEC to make their budgets in rent-a-victim games because their budgets are so small.  Plus, perception of how leagues that are not part of the BCS do not get a fair shake in the polls. More specifically the preseason polls that carry so much weight, and if a team is not perceived to be good in the preseason they will not be ranked which would hurt a team if they are actually good.

Just look at the Big East when West Virgina was one game away in 2007 to play in the title game before they lost to a bad Pitt team.

Or, look at South Florida who was ranked number two in the nation in 2007, and were ranked they high just because they played in the Big East despite beating Florida Atlantic, Elon, and Central Florida.  So, if Utah were in even the lowly Big East in 2008 they would have been in the title game.

The voting part is mostly fact, but when Harris voters admit to not watching any of Utah games or coaches having their secretary or SID vote for what is to be a process in picking the teams who will play in the BCS title game.

Fact: Even the coaches in Utah’s league, the Mountain West, did not step up for the Utes when it counted. Joe Glenn of Wyoming had Utah at No. 5. Rocky Long of New Mexico and Gary Patterson of TCU had them at No. 7. Kyle Whittingham, Utah’s own coach, had his team at No. 5.

So where was all the love for Utah BEFORE they played Alabama in the Sugar Bowl? The fact is that while Utah deserved to win because the Utes flat outplayed the Crimson Tide (who didn’t want to be there), it wasn’t until AFTER the Sugar Bowl that Utah became this incredible juggernaut which should have been given the chance to play for it all.

This I reluctantly agree with, because even I admit that Utah was not one of the top two teams in college football, when the regular season ended.  However, there is the tossed around disclaimer that Alabama did not want to be there, even though they have not been to a major bowl since their 2000 Orange Bowl appearance.

Not going to go into this too much but that excuse is lame, because once they strap it up players are ready, plus go back to the coin toss when Alabama captains said something along the lines of “I’m gonna kill ya.”

Fact: For all of the flaws of the BCS, the fact is that it has provided bowl opportunities that the supposedly aggrieved schools had never had in the past. How many times had Utah played in the Sugar Bowl before the BCS? How many times had Hawaii played in the Sugar Bowl before the BCS? How many times had Boise State played in a New Year’s Day bowl before the BCS? If you answered zero to all three questions you’d be right. “The fact of the matter is that the BCS has given access to those conference that they never had before,” said former SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer, considered to be the godfather of the BCS. “Look at the history of the major bowls. They had almost never invited one of those teams before the BCS.”

Yes, the BCS has given more opportunities but that still does not mean the system is the best that it could be.  This past year Boise State who was undefeated and a one loss TCU was by passed for a lower ranked Ohio State, because they will put more eyeballs on the screen.

That is what makes the anti-trust violations of the BCS plausible, with better teams being over passed because of a business decision.  Also, money distribution within the BCS is not fair, becuase if a team from a non-BCS league gets in they must share with the other five non-BCS leagues making their share much, much smaller.

Just look at 0-12 Washington who made more money then then any other non-BCS team this year — Utah being the exception — just because they are in a BCS league.   That number would have been even more had Utah NOT made it to a BCS game.

Fact: The original BCS agreement that was put together back in 1998 never would have happened unless the champions of those six “equity” conferences (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10) had been promised automatic slots.

“Those conferences already had automatic bowl bids. We (in the SEC) had a long standing agreement with the Sugar Bowl,” said Kramer. “There is no way that those conferences were going to give that up without a guaranteed slot. And remember that we were working with four bowls and those were the conferences they were used to dealing with.”

The fact is that the free marketplace determined that those six conferences would get automatic bids and there were at-large spots made available to teams that could play their way in. Maybe you believe that market forces have no place in college athletics, but that is how it happened. It wasn’t a conspiracy to keep the other teams out. It was the only way to get the deal done.

Ha!! free market place determined who would be in what bowls, completely contradicts the earlier part of the statement that said

“There is no way those conferences were going to give that up without a guaranteed slot”

That sounds nothing like a free enterprise system to me.  The only quasi- free market portion of the BCS is the four at-large sports because these spots teams actually play their way into.  Well, unless you are from a non-BCS league and get by passed for a school with a larger fan base in order to get a larger television audience.

Fact: While the six equity conferences do get an automatic bid and the $18 million payday that comes with it, the five Coalition Conferences (Conference USA, MAC, WAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt) have placed a team in the BCS in four of the past five seasons. Those five conferences get an automatic $9.5 million for participating and another $9.5 million when they place a team in a BCS game. So over the past five seasons the BCS has pumped about $80 million into those five Coalition conferences.

That’s a lot of money that did not even exist before the advent of the BCS. Should the Coalition Conferences get more? Yes, and I believe they will. I also believe that in the future the conferences will be able to get more than one team in the BCS if they have two teams in the Top 10.

Again the money is true that the non-BCS teams are getting access to more money, but and it is a big one that when a non-BCS team makes it to a lucrative bowl game the money is not shared just within their own league.

The money spread to all five of the non-BCS leagues making their cut very small in comparison to any other BCS league.  Now, if the money was given to just the leagues that make a BCS game that would be more fair.

While the putrid amount of money that is being forced handed out is more, but the difference in money is a lot more then it used to be before the BCS was formed.  The BCS leagues keep increasing revenue while the non-BCS get a spike only when they get a team in the big money bowls.

My rebuttals do make sense and are not just stuff flung against the wall in hopes that they stick.  The MWC had no choice but to sign Goliath’s contract, because in the end money is what talks and if the MWC and the WAC bailed they would be left dry.

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3 Responses

  1. where is the gender equity case in this? The BCS allows their schools to provide more opps for women than other conferences…seems like title IX proponants would be all over this?

  2. After watching Utah lay the smack down on Bama how can you tell me that Utah did not deserve the title game? Utah played a respectable schedule and they were UNDEFEATED – what else did they need to do to prove they deserved the title game? If you look at the teams Utah beat throughout the season and who those teams beat it is tough to find a team that accomplished more. If the BCS wants this issue to go away they should have given Utah the title game. If Utah would have been beat in a title game then there is no question but if they pulled off a win then Utah would have deserved the national championship – let the game decide the champion. Isn’t this why the games are even played? I suspect the BCS was worried that Utah would have won…
    The fact is, involving the legislature is the way we will get a playoff system. We have tried everything else and we are still stuck with the crappy bowl system. If you have a real fix that hasn’t been tried then let’s hear it. Otherwise, shut your pie hole and quit acting like you know what you are talking about.

  3. […] Wodraska, Salt Lake Tribune: This article is something I have been harping on with the unfairness of money distribution of BCS money.  Finally MWC Commissioner, Craig Thompson, is bringing this to the for front.  Currently the […]

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