Changes don't fix it all for BCS

ESPN.com's Jim Donnan and Mel Kiper Jr. see the need for even more BCS changes.

Originally Published: March 1, 2004
ESPN.com

A pair of college football experts offer their opinions on the proposed changes to the Bowl Championship Series.

Jim Donnan
Having coached at Marshall University, albeit before football became a Division I sport there, I'm all for any plan that gives the midlevel teams an increased chance at getting into the BCS system. That kind of opportunity is good for college athletics. Sure, nothing is guaranteed in terms of at-large bids for mid-majors, but in a one-game scenario they will certainly have a chance to prove their worthiness and competitiveness.

Still, I have a hard time believing college football can make so many changes yet still be unable to find a playoff system that is agreeable to everyone. And the argument about not wanting to burden the student-athletes doesn't work here because football players simply do not miss class because of games. They leave for road games Friday after classes and are back on campus late the next night.

Administrators need to examine that aspect across college athletics, not just in football. Take swimming, for example: the University of Georgia's men's team missed five days of class for the SEC championships and will miss five more for the NCAA championships, not to mention the time the team missed during the season. I respect and appreciate what goes into an entire athletic department, but that argument is weak when compared with other sports.

My experience at Marshall showed me that football playoffs at the college level are viable and worthwhile. Would the mid-majors have a better shot getting into a playoff than into an adjusted BCS system? Who knows, and while we would still see the one-shot wonders, a lack of depth would cost most smaller schools a chance at the upset. Teams would need a gamebreaking quarterback like Miami-Ohio had this season in Ben Roethlisberger.

The opportunities are increasing, but college football still needs a playoff.




Mel Kiper Jr.
The decision to add another bowl game and two at-large bids to the BCS system is a good move and gives the smaller conferences a better chance at sharing in the system, but it does not solve the bigger problem.

The system that will go in to place in 2006 will not change the fact that all but one bowl game has been rendered mostly irrelevant. The entire bowl season is all about one game -- sometimes two, as with this year's split national championship -- and traditional tie-ins, along with the significance of New Year's Day, have been reduced to afterthoughts.

By the time most bowl matchups are set, it is apparent which teams will be playing in the BCS championship game and the focus turns almost exclusively to that matchup, even overshadowing the rest of the BCS lineup. Interest is diluted pretty much across the board because the BCS formulas tell us that only one game means anything.

Why not throw out any kind of BCS system and return the bowls to their traditional arrangements, then give us a one-game playoff the following week? Why not return the six traditional New Year's Day bowls to Jan. 1, give college football six chances to scrutinize a game in a big-time manner and appoint a panel to give us a championship game after the dust settles on New Year's Day?

Such an arrangement would make for a playoff-like system and could still give the mid-major, Cinderella-type teams a chance to share in the spoils. There would still be the chance of a third team raising a legitimate beef, but every system is going to have someone feeling left out. College football would be wise to return some significance to the rest of the bowl picture by scrapping the BCS altogether and putting a slight tweak on the old system.

Things are getting better, but not all the problems have gone away.

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