Wednesday, January 03, 2007

BCS MYTH BUSTER #1: The Bottom Line

So it's time to go busting some myths about the BCS. Granted, this assignment is a bit easier than I thought it would be a few days ago.

(Btw, has anybody seen mgoblog's Brian? There's reason to be worried here.)

In any case, the first myth to be busted is one of the most common and one of the most deceptive: Namely, that the BCS is no better than the old system. That it still has some of the same deficiencies.

Now, I might not be able to marshall as many on-field numbers as some of my counterparts across the blogosphere. I am, after all, a journalist, and spreadsheets and the like usually make my head hurt.

And two INTs plus two fumbles makes ... ouch.

Counting, I can handle. And I count eight years since the BCS was put into place. And I count one year in which there was a split title. And, if nothing else, I am confident of my ability to count to any number lower than ten.

I counted back at eight-year intervals all the way back to 1958. At this point, essentially three polls can be used: The AP, UPI and FWAA (Football Writers Association of America.) This makes it easier to break down.

With FWAA included, the numbers go thusly:

1990-97: 3 split championships
1982-89: 0 split championships
1974-81: 2 split championships
1966-73: 2 split championships
1958-65: 5 split championships

In fairness, you can take FWAA out and get just one split in 1958-65, so you can knock that one down if you want. Nothing else changes.

So, if we take the five eight-year intervals before the BCS, at least three of those periods was worse (in terms of split titles) than under the BCS, one was equal and one was better. In other words, the BCS goes 3-1-1 against the old system. Count in the FWAA, and it goes to 4-1.

Is the system controversial? Yes. But you can't argue with the results: 87.5 percent of the time, it has produced a consensus national title.

Now, there are some that will bicker with the outcome. I think there should have been a split title in 2004, when Auburn was undefeated. Some will say there should be a split title this year because ... ahem ... Boise State beat Oklahoma.

But if the goal is a consensus national title, this system works. Better than what we used to have.

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