The Cerebral Vortex
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With the final game of the college football season due to be played tomorrow, I have taken it upon myself to trace through the history of the BCS and how we've arrived at this point. Whether Florida or Oklahoma win tomorrow, it is sure to be a wild ride into the future either way. Below you can find a short excerpt from a piece written to the title The History of the BCS National Championship at Helium; if you wish to read the longer piece, it can be found here... 

 

The Bowl Championship Series was the culmination of several efforts through the 1990s to bring together the top teams from across the nation to the biggest bowl games. Coming on the heels of the Bowl Coalition (1992-1994) and the Bowl Alliance (1995-1997), the BCS emerged in 1998 as the widest-ranging attempt to date to determine a national champion in college football. The history of college football is one of multiple dominant teams being sorted out by a poll of experts - whether sportswriters, coaches or a computer tabulating the results of each contest. The NCAA, born out of an effort to restrict encroaching professionalism in collegiate football following the MacCracken conferences of nearly sixty universities in 1905-1906, has never officially crowned a champion in Division I-A football... and thus the BCS is only the most recent step in attempting to determine the top teams at the end of the season.

 

The BCS is the most wide-reaching attempt to unite the traditionally strongest six Division I-A conferences with the top four bowl games. Traditionally, conferences have locked in guaranteed bids to bowl games. For instance, the Rose Bowl since 1947 has contractually matched the Pac-10 champion with the Big Ten champion. While this has inevitably led to exciting contests, it has not always led to there being a clear-cut number one team at the end of the season. Following the 1991 season, when the Miami Hurricanes and Washington Huskies split the AP and Coaches Polls for the de facto national crown, the Bowl Coalition united five power conferences (minus both the Big Ten and Pac-10) in an effort to force a final matchup between the number-one and number-two teams in the polls and allow a champion to be determined on the field. As conferences consolidated and expanded through the end of the century, the Coalition gave way to a new configuration in the Bowl Alliance. But without two of the biggest conferences in the fold, the Alliance suffered the same lack of legitimacy which plagued the Coalition....

 

 

Many questions still exist regarding the legitimacy of the BCS. In a move reminiscent of Theodore Roosevelt's White House conferences with the Big Three (Yale, Harvard and Princeton) football schools back in 1905 to push for better safety and rules standards and amateur ideals, we might yet see incoming president Barack Obama helping in his spare time to negotiate a route toward a Division I-A playoff. After all, we've already seen Utah's attorney general open a probe into potential antitrust violations by the confederation...

 

But whatever the future holds, the BCS has proven to be the longest-standing and most expansive national-championship formula to date.  The first alliance to include the Big Ten and Pac-10, we must at least tip our hats to the fact that the BCS has attempted to include schools from the midwest and west coast and that it has opened the route in current big-money college football for small-conference schools to rise to prominence.

 

Leave your thoughts below. What do you think about the BCS? (I imagine most fans will speak out against it in some way... but I could be surprised.) How do you think the game will end tomorrow? Was your team slighted? Should we see a split national title this season once again -- and if so, who should take the AP poll?  Anything and everything... now is your chance to sound off...

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