We've all heard the criticisms of the BCS system for weeks and weeks. Who is going to get left out? Who deserves to play in the title game. More recently the talk has been about fairness. Is a rematch fair? Should the SEC automatically win by having two teams in? Did Oklahoma State deserve a shot? This year, we will never know as the system that is in place has put the two best teams in the country in the championship game. Let that sink in for a moment. The two best teams are playing for the title. Isn't that how it's supposed to work? Isn't this why the BCS was put together in the first place? By all accounts, everyone should answer that question "yes." But as people's favorite teams or conferences are left out or passed over, the complaints of bias and unfairness come out. A key phrase in an article I read this morning jumped out at me. The system will always have complaints and detractors as long as it has NO FLEXIBILITY.
That's the key. A better system has to be flexible to allow for unusual circumstances to arise. Who would have thought that as of the next to last week of the season, the top three teams in the country would be from the same DIVISION of the same CONFERENCE? Is it fair the the Razorbacks have to stay home because a single conference can't have more than two teams in the BCS? Maybe not, but its the rules as they stand. And all we can do is play by the rules as they stand.
A flexible +1 system would cause a lot of the complaints to go away. The reason is simple, you would allow the best teams to compete for a chance to win it all. The regular season would count as would scheduling quality games. The following scenarios would have specific play off type match-ups:
1. 1 undefeated team. The 2012 scenario. LSU deserves to be in the national title game without a doubt. Put them in the game and pat them on the back for having the best season of anyone else in the country. That leaves five one loss teams to choose from for them to play. Immediately cross off Boise St and Houston. Sorry guys, this game is for the big boys. If you aren't a big boy and don't play a schedule like the big boys play, then you have to go undefeated. Go undefeated and you have a shot. I promise. Keep reading. That leaves Stanford, Alabama and OK State. Of the three, Alabama and OK State have a much higher BCS ranking than Stanford. Sorry Stanford, but in the computer rankings, you are behind #6 Arkansas and #8 Kansas State. Play a tougher schedule or don't lose. That's how this is going to work. Alabama plays Oklahoma State as the next to last game with the winner playing LSU in the +1.
2. 2 undefeated teams. This seems to be the simplest of the scenarios. One versus two in the + 1 game. If you wanted to have a 3 vs 4 game, please be my guest.
3. 3 undefeated teams. Dicey. See Auburn getting the shaft back in 2004. Ok, there were two other undefeated teams that year, but most people agree that OU, USC and Auburn were the big three that year. USC blew OU off the field, leaving plenty of room for Auburn fans to scream "What about us?" Ironically USC ended up vacating that championship due to the Reggie Bush issue. But I digress. The BCS standings come into play here. # 1 is #1 and gets the bye to the final. Reward the team for the best schedule, the hardest road to get there. Let the other two play after the bowls with the +1 to come a week later. Both will have earned the right to play for the title.
4. 4 undefeated teams or more. Unlikely, but it has happened. Back to the BCS standings and a four team play off. #1 vs #4 and #2 vs #3. Winners meet for the crystal trophy.
5. 0 undefeated teams. Interesting scenario and probably the most needing a +1 solution. No clear cut winner. Take the top four rated teams in the BCS standings and play them out as in scenario 4.
All four of these have one thing in common. The best team in the country will have earned their championship on the field. The teams from outside the major conferences can earn their way in by winning. The teams that play better schedules will still have their chance as well. You have to win though. The bowls stay in place and the fat cats get to preen and hob knob with the beautiful people. Coffers get filled and universities get to keep their alumni on donation alerts. Then when the smoke clears, one champion will remain. Simple? Common sense? Absolutely. Will it happen in the foreseeable future? Probably not.