The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is a tremendous step toward identifying the nation's best team.
The BCS is able to annually pair two of the top teams in the country, something that happened only by
chance in the old bowl system. Unfortunately, it has many flaws that have been frequently pointed out by
universities, student-athletes, coaches, conferences, members of Congress, the media, fans, and many
other interested parties.
|Crowns a definitive and widely accepted
- EBS: A 12-team tournament ensures that
under most circumstances all teams worthy of an opportunity
to win a national championship are given that chance. The
"playoff" (one element of the EBS) is consistent with the
format used by every other NCAA team sport.
- BCS: While the BCS has had successful
years in matching up the two exclusive national title contenders
(2002 and 2005), there have also been years of stunning failure.
In no year was this more evident than 2003, when a split national
championship was awarded to LSU and USC, the very occurrence
the system was designed to eliminate. A year later, five teams
completed the regular season undefeated, but three were denied
a chance at the national championship. Such a system leads
directly to controversy.
|Ensures BCS conference champions play in
- EBS: All BCS conference champions are
ensured a spot in the 12-team EBS tournament.
- BCS: All BCS conference champions are
awarded invitations to BCS bowls.
|Maintains traditional bowl affiliations
for conference champions
- EBS: Teams receiving byes are placed
in bowls based on traditional bowl affiliations. However,
this allows for only one team to be placed per bowl and the
conference champion must be one of the four bye teams.
- BCS: While the BCS attempts to maintain
traditional bowl affiliations, it is not always possible to
do when a particular bowl loses teams to the national title
|Provides access to non-BCS conference champions
- EBS: The highest-ranked non-BCS conference
champion is guaranteed a spot in the post season.
- BCS: While non-BCS conference champions
are not prohibited from being selected to participate in a
BCS bowl, the qualifying conditions make it very difficult
for such a team to do so.
|Provides access to all teams worthy of
a chance at a national championship
- EBS: With all six BCS conference champions,
at least one non-BCS conference champion, and potentially
five at-large bids, it is very unlikely that a team deserving
of a chance at the national title would be excluded.
- BCS: With only two spots available for
teams competing for the national title, it is very likely
that a worthy team is excluded. In 8 of the 10 years (1998-2007),
a team was excluded from the national championship game despite
having a record on par with that of one of the participants.
|Prevents unworthy teams from having a chance
at a national championship
- EBS: With the possibility of a weak
conference champion and as many as five at-large bids, it
is possible a team with several losses would be included in
- BCS: With only two teams in the national
title hunt, it is impossible for an unworthy team to compete
|Maintains the importance of the regular
season for teams with the same number of losses as the #1 ranked
team (i.e., an undefeated team)
- EBS: By making available first round
byes, even teams who have sewn up an EBS tournament berth still need
to maintain their standing as one of the top 4 teams.
- BCS: For a team seeking one of the top
two spots in the country, a late season loss could end any
hopes of a national title.
|Maintains the importance of regular season
games for teams with one or two more losses than the #1 ranked
team (i.e., one loss teams when the #1 team is undefeated).
- EBS: Quality teams with only one or two
losses to top teams are still very much in the hunt for the
national championship. Although their path to a championship
is deservingly more difficult, for these teams, their regular
season is still “the most important regular season in collegiate
athletics.” Another loss would eliminate them from the tournament.
- BCS: Once a team no longer has hopes of
attaining a #1 or #2 ranking, from a BCS perspective, that
team’s season is over. While the season is still important
to players and fans, and the possibility of winning a conference
title is a worthwhile pursuit, these teams have no hope of
winning a national championship and their participation in
“the most important regular season in collegiate athletics”
is reduced to spoiler.
|Produces compelling matchups to attract
a national TV audience in majority of bowl games
- EBS: By the very nature of a national
championship tournament and because of a lack of potentially
lopsided matchups, all games are compelling.
- BCS: The BCS has consistently produced
compelling TV matchups. While occasionally one bowl of the
four will be less interesting to a national audience, the
majority of games have national appeal.
|Advances the interest in minor bowl games
- EBS: Because first round sites are hosted
by minor bowls, these bowls can leverage this added interest
to non-Tournament years. Non-tournament games get attention by
taking place during "bowl week," sandwiched between the first
round and the quarterfinals.
- BCS: The BCS fails to respect vested interests
of minor bowls.
|Allows fans to enjoy the complete bowl
- EBS: The byes and extended period between
first and second round games allow fans to travel to bowl
sites and enjoy extend stays. The later-round games will continue
to be “destination events” where fans attend regardless of
competing teams. In the current system, only about 1/3 of
tickets for many bowls go to schools; rest are allocated to
annual renewals, corporate partners, and local residents.
- BCS: Fans only need to plan on attending
one bowl game, allowing them to take extended vacations and
enjoy the complete bowl experience.
|Student-athletes not subjected to excessive
number of games
- EBS: Teams play at most four postseason
games, but given the fact that the highest-ranked, and presumably
best, teams receive a bye, teams expected to play in the championship
game would play at most three postseason games. At most a
team would play 16 games, similar to games played by national
champions in Division I-AA (15 games), Division II (15-16
games), and Division III (14-15). Unlike these division, those
at DI-A would benefit from a several week rest between the
regular season and the postseason.
- BCS: Teams play only one postseason game.