BCS Automatic Conference Qualifier Could Be Added

November 24, 2008

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John Barfield

BCS Automatic Conference Qualifier Could Be Added

     No one is saying it. The networks and big newspapers love to ignore the WAC, Mountain West, and others as if they were a conservative Republican with no charisma. In my area, for example, the Utah-BYU game was not even on television. A game between two top 20 teams was unavailable. A game that would determine one of the schools in the BCS this season was a no-show.

     However, the Non-BCS schools have hope. Sadly for the fans of Utah, Boise State, and Ball State, that may not effect this season; but in the future there IS a provision for them to gain an automatic bid.

     Something to watch for is a statement in the BCS selection process that allows another conference to be added as an annual Automatic Bid Recipient.  

According to the official BCS website: 

"Standards for Future BCS Automatic Qualification

The champions of the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-10 and Southeastern Conferences will have annual automatic qualification for a BCS game after the regular seasons of 2008 through 2013, based on mathematical standards of performance during the 2004-2007 regular seasons.

The 2006-2009 regular seasons will be evaluated under the same standards to determine if other conferences will have annual automatic qualification for the games after the 2012 and 2013 regular seasons. The champions of no more than seven conferences will have annual automatic berths.

If the BCS continues under the same or similar format, conferences will be evaluated on their performances during the 2010-2013 regular seasons to determine which conferences will have automatic qualification for the bowls that will conclude the 2014-2017 regular seasons.

The evaluation data includes the following for each conference (1) the ranking of the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings each year, (2) the final regular-season rankings of all conference teams in the computer rankings used by the BCS each year and (3) the number of teams in the top 25 of the final BCS standings each year.

Conference agreements with bowls will continue. The PAC-10 and Big Ten champions will host the Rose Bowl if their teams are not in the BCS national championship game. Likewise, the Southeastern Conference champion will host the Sugar Bowl, ACC champion will host the Orange Bowl and Big 12 champion will host the Fiesta Bowl."

     If you read this carefully, you will notice three things.

1) "The 2006-2009 regular seasons will be evaluated under the same standards to determine if other conferences will have annual automatic qualification for the games after the 2012 and 2013 regular seasons. The champions of no more than seven conferences will have annual automatic berths. "

     The Mountain West and the WAC are becoming consistent power conferences. One of them could become that seventh automatic qualifier beginning in 2012. based on the recent successes of Boise State, Hawaii, Utah, BYU, and TCU.

 

2) "The evaluation data includes the following for each conference (1) the ranking of the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings each year, (2) the final regular-season rankings of all conference teams in the computer rankings used by the BCS each year and (3) the number of teams in the top 25 of the final BCS standings each year."

     Using the Mountain West this season as an example, you will notice that Utah is currently ranked 6th, They have three teams ranked in the top 25-Utah(6), TCU(14), and BYU(18). 

3) The formula is not stated in specifics. This is a point of contention among us that watch the BCS closely. Coaches ballots aren't made public except at the end of the season. Some of the computer polls that are used do not make their formula public. And now this, an evaluation process that could effect entire conferences is not known. We are told WHERE they are looking and when, currently 2006-2009, but not what the actual qualifications are.

     If we are comparing the Mountain West  to the Big 6 conferences in the year 2008, this is a no brain-er. This is how the Mountain West compares to the Big East -

          Highest ranked Cincinnati(16), two in top 25-Cincinnati(16) and Pittsburgh(25),

and the ACC -

          Highest ranked-Florida State(20), three in top 25-Florida State(20), Boston College(21), and Georgia Tech(22).

     Most would agree that, if the evaluation was based only on this season, the Mountain West would be in position to begin qualifying for an automatic bid as soon as possible. As noted earlier however, this evaluation is from 2006-2009. It should be noted also that during this period that Boise State is in position to finish in the top ten in the BCS end of year standings for the second time with one more year to go.

     Again, the Statistical methodology of the BCS is unclear; but it is apparent that for these teams and their conferences, every vote and every game is extremely important. Even though Utah is likely to be the only mid-major conference to make a BCS Bowl game this year, the higher that each of these teams can get should not be overlooked.

     I would also assert that the media will continue to have its influence. It continually discounts these teams as pretenders, which hurts these teams immeasurably. But this could change if one of these conferences can gain an automatic bid for its conference champion. Suddenly the networks would have to talk about these conferences. Major networks may even show a few of their games, and in the end a more balanced pecking order in college football could exist.   

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