Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Quirky BCS Yields to a 'Refined' System

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Quirky BCS Yields to a 'Refined' System

Article excerpt

Sunday night I was e-mailed the last Bowl Championship Series standings ever assembled.

I didn't cry, but I sniffled.

The standings were compiled and delivered, seven Sundays a season, by the National Football Foundation. You could click the short-form or long-form version, but it was always long-form for me because I wanted to soak up every nutty nuance of the standings. In the old days, one of the categories that helped pick the finalists was called "Quartile Rank."

Tennessee finished No. 1 the first year, 1998, with a quartile rank of 0.80, yet I don't remember Volunteers students printing T- shirts celebrating "We're No. 0.80!"

The quartile was ditched after one season and replaced by something called "Schedule Rank," which sounded less NASA-like and was different from the category "Schedule Strength."

There were only three computer indexes in the beginning: Jeff Sagarin, Seattle Times and New York Times.

The BCS was such a fixer-upper it added five more computers in 1999 before finally settling on the present six.

The New York Times got out in 2004 after concluding the BCS was apparently not fit to print. Some computer operators left because BCS commissioners demanded they remove margin of victory from their formulas.

Sagarin, an early BCS stakes holder, stayed on but started putting out two sets of numbers: his own and a separate ranking for the BCS. That led to a head-scratching point this year where Sagarin had Northern Illinois at No. 37 in his regular rankings but No. 3 in his BCS index.

Huh? In 16 years, I said "huh?" a lot.

I won't miss the BCS as much as I will miss the BCS standings, if only for the sheer audaciousness of the endeavor. I will miss the conundrums it caused and the hackles it raised. The BCS exposed biases in humans pollsters we all knew were there.

It wasn't always fair, but it was almost always funny.

Next year, a 13-member panel will choose the top four teams and also place other major schools in the major bowls.

It's about time we got something better in college football - but how boring is that?

We won't have terms such as "non-automatic qualifier" to kick around anymore. As in, "A school from a non-AQ conference will qualify for a major bowl if it finishes in the top 12 of the final BCS standings, or in the top 15 ahead of an AQ conference champion."

The BCS produced some of the most convoluted, high-choleric sentences in journalism.

Never again can it be written that Notre Dame will receive an automatic BCS bid if it finishes in the top eight just because it is Notre Dame. Never again will a top BCS official answer a reporter's question with "That can't happen ... can it?"

The question in 2003 was whether USC could finish No. 1 in both BCS polls and not make the title game. And it did happen.

The new College Football Playoff has promised the selection committee will release four rankings per season, three fewer than the BCS. …

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