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Friday, January 09, 2009

Rid the Broken BCS

Glad that's over.

Is it just me or does the end to the college football season seem anticlimactic now? Another end to the season marred by the BCS because yet another team or two has a legitimate argument that they should be champions. The current BCS system is failing and failing bad.

Stewart Mandel at recently pointed out exactly how bad things have gotten for the BCS since the induction of the fifth game. Some interesting things he pointed out before the Fiesta Bowl and last night's BCS Championship:
  • "The Cincinnati-Virginia Tech Orange Bowl played on New Year's night drew a paltry 6.1 overnight rating for FOX, shattering the previous low of 6.98 set by the 2007 Wake Forest-Louisville Orange Bowl. By point of comparison, the Dec. 27 Florida State-Wisconsin Champs Sports Bowl drew nearly the same-sized audience."
  • "The Utah-Alabama Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 garnered a 7.8 rating, an 11 percent increase from last year's Georgia-Hawaii game. Even so, the game ranked seventh-lowest among the 45 BCS games played to date."
  • "Only the USC-Penn State Rose Bowl on ABC garnered its typically high rating of 12.6, up from 12.0 for last year's USC-Illinois game. But even that number marked the third-lowest of the 11 Rose Bowls played during the BCS era."
The 2009 Fiesta Bowl did draw an increase of 39% from 2008 and 29% from 2007. Then again, you had West Virginia and Boise State playing against Oklahoma in those two years. Last night's 2009 BCS Championship game drew 24 million viewers from 8 pm to 10 pm. Meanwhile, ABC, NBC, and CBS drew a combined 25 million viewers in that same time slot with mostly repeat episodes.

In comparison, Super Bowl XLII (2008) drew 97 million viewers - more than 4 times as many as last night's game. Although the Super Bowl is on a much grander stage, the BCS Championship should bring in more viewers. It would be hard to estimate what a championship game in college football would draw if it was the culmination of a playoff system, but I can almost guarantee it would be higher than 24 million.

Besides the abysmal television ratings, the current BCS Championship game is far from a championship under any sensible interpretation. In no way whatsoever can a true champion be determined from computer systems and polls voted on by biased coaches and ESPN's talking heads. In no other sport besides NCAA Division I football, college or professional, do you see a format this unjust with a result this controversial after every game has been played.

Whether you like him or not, this guy has a pretty good point: