Thursday, December 22, 2011

How To Fix The BCS While Restoring The Glory of New Year's Day

(My open letter to those in charge of the BCS)

To Whom It May Concern:

I'm writing because the BCS is going to soon vote on a new BCS format and the options I’ve read about are, frankly, uninspiring. The BCS has to address several major issues: crowning a true champion, maintain the bowls, boosting ticket sales, increasing TV ratings and maintaining access for non-AQ leagues. None of the proposals I’ve read, including a four-team “plus one” playoff, accomplishes this.
It’s time for the BCS to think outside the box.
My proposal is to increase the number of BCS bowls to 6, moving them all to New Year’s Day, going back to traditional tie-ins and playing a “plus one” and true BCS Championship game about a week after New Year’s Day on a big TV night, like a Thursday. The “two team per conference” rule is eliminated. A “non-BCS” school gets a bid every year. New Year’s Day is restored to its rightful place – and fans can resume traveling en masse to games without being forced to take precious time off from work in the new year, a deal breaker for many (myself included).
The format is simple – play tripleheaders on New Year’s Day on two networks. If ESPN wants to keep involved, they can have games on ABC and ESPN. If the BCS wants to increase TV revenue, they could include another partner. Fox & ESPN seem to be open to working together, as shown by the Pac-12 partnership, so maybe Fox & ABC show the games. The starting times are staggered so fans won’t miss the end of any games.
Most importantly, the bowl games are no longer exhibitions. The biggest problem with the BCS is, despite what conference commissioners say, that it’s a 2-team playoff. My plan basically extends the “regular season” by one game, but with all the best teams playing each other. New Year’s Day replaces Championship Saturday as the final game for teams to make their pitch to be included in the title game. No longer will an Alabama make a title game by doing nothing – they will have to earn it. We will also be able to properly gauge conference strength, something the 12-game schedule & 9-game conference schedules have removed. Simply put, it’s the perfect solution.
1) The six bowl games are slotted with automatic tie-ins. I have chosen the Cotton Bowl and Capital One Bowl to become the two new games and they are slotted with the “least” desirable tie-ins as an exchange for becoming part of the BCS. Obviously, other bowls could be the two new ones but those made the most sense to me.
Cotton Bowl – top-ranked non-BCS team (does NOT have to be a champion, includes BYU, Navy & Army)
Capital One Bowl – Big East champion
Fiesta Bowl – Big 12 champion
Rose Bowl – Big Ten champion vs. Pac-12 champion
Orange Bowl – ACC champion
Sugar Bowl – SEC champion
2) After the automatic tie-ins, the selection order is determined by the rank of the conference champion. The bowl with the top ranked team picks first. The bowl with the 2nd best ranked team picks 2nd, etc.
3) This is how it would look in 2011:
Cotton Bowl, Noon
#7 Boise State vs. #6 Arkansas
Capital One Bowl, 1pm
#23 West Virginia vs. #8 Kansas State or #9 South Carolina
Fiesta Bowl, 4pm
#3 Oklahoma State vs. #2 Alabama
Rose Bowl, 5pm
#5 Oregon vs. #10 Wisconsin
Orange Bowl, 8pm
#15 Clemson vs. #13 Michigan (selected over better teams to sell tickets)
Sugar Bowl, 9pm
#1 LSU vs. #4 Stanford
-It works out perfectly this season with easily defined “semifinal games.” The Orange Bowl has no problem selling tickets. Every top 10 makes it way to a BCS game, except for Kansas State or South Carolina. The least deserving BCS team, Virginia Tech, is pushed out. West Virginia probably has an easier time selling tickets to a New Year’s Day game in Florida, as opposed to one on a school night midweek.
Let’s see how it would’ve worked last year for context:
Cotton Bowl, Noon
#3 TCU vs. #6 Ohio State
Capital One Bowl, 1pm
UConn vs. #9 Michigan State
Fiesta Bowl, 4pm
#7 Oklahoma vs. #8 Arkansas
Rose Bowl, 5pm
#2 Oregon vs. #5 Wisconsin
Orange Bowl, 8pm
#13 Virginia Tech vs. #10 LSU (selected over Michigan State for ticket sales)
Sugar Bowl, 9pm
#1 Auburn vs. #4 Stanford
-We have 3 games with national title implications. Every top 10 team makes a BCS game, despite the inclusion of unranked UConn. The Fiesta Bowl doesn’t draw only 67,000 fans. UConn fans can actually make the trip – much easier to go down the coast than across the country. The Cotton Bowl returns to national prominence in a BIG way. TCU has a possibility to play for a national title, which it didn’t with the current 2-team playoff.
Because we’re moving the BCS Championship Game out, we can eliminate the double hosting model. Other cities like Atlanta, San Diego or northern cities like Detroit or Indianapolis can host the title game, a la the Super Bowl. The bowls obviously can still host but that need is reduced since they could potentially host a game with championship implications every year.
The earlier bowls are strengthened too because they MATTER. Fans (and computers) will watch the early bowl games to gauge how strong conferences are. There is still a space for the Outback and/or Gator Bowl to exist on New Year’s Day, starting at 11am with strong Big Ten/SEC tie-ins, as an appetizer.
Furthermore, the new setup will force bowl games to take place before New Year’s Day. No more BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 7. No more Emerald Bowl on Jan. 9. Bowl week is restored to its former glory as the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day – also a holiday for most Americans – reclaims its sport as the best week of the year and an easy time for fans to travel.
Here’s the bottom line: THIS WILL WORK!
Please think outside the box. I love bowl games. I don’t want a playoff. But the BCS has done a terrible job of pushing away the playoff proponents.
As my Dad said after the 2004 Sugar Bowl between LSU & Oklahoma:
“That was fun, but I miss New Year’s Day.”
Don’t we all?
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