I love the bowl season because it gives us wonderful non-conference action. The bowl season is the one time where conference judgment is almost objective.
I’ve devised three formulas so you can pick which ever one you like the best to decide which conference did the best.
First I had to sift out the pecking order of the bowls. To decide between the tier of the bowls, I usually used the records for both teams. For instance, if both teams’ records combined for 12-14 wins (before the bowl game), then they were definitely in a 3rd tier bowl. If the teams combined for 15 wins, then it was a gut call as to whether they were 3rd or 2nd tier. 16 combined wins and up usually got you a 2nd tier bowl game spot (the only exception was the Texas Bowl for obvious reasons).
Bowl Pecking Order: (winner is denoted with *)
Eagle Bank (Wake Forest*-Navy), New Mexico (Colorado St.*-Fresno), Saint Petersburg (Memphis-USF*), New Orleans (Southern Miss.*-Troy), Hawaii (Hawaii-Notre Dame*), Motor City (FAU*-Central Mich.), Independence (NIU-Louisiana Tech*), PapaJohn’s.com (NC State-Rutgers*), Humanitarian (Maryland*-Nevada), Texas (W. Mich.-Rice*), Armed Forces (Houston*-Air Force), , Insight (Kansas*-Minnesota), Liberty (Kentucky*-E. Carolina) [Kentucky being 6-6 and E. Carolina being from the conference USA hurt this bowl’s tier at 15 combined wins], and International (Buffalo-UConn*)
Las Vegas (BYU-Arizona*), Poinsettia (Boise St.-TCU*), Meineke Car Care (WVU*-UNC), Champs Sports (Wisconsin-FSU*), Emerald (Miami-Cal*), Alamo (Missouri*-Northwestern), Holiday (Oklahoma St.-Oregon*), Sun (Oregon St.*-Pittsburgh), Music City (Boston College-Vanderbilt*) [This is the biggest one I was teetering with at 15 wins combined pre-bowl, but this game was very interesting to me with the ACC&SEC match up and it being Vandy's first bowl in a long time.] Chick-fil-a (LSU*-Georgia Tech), Outback (South Carolina-Iowa*), Capitol One (UGA*-Mich. St.), Gator (Nebraska*-Clemson), Cotton (Ole Miss*-Texas Tech), GMAC (Ball St.-Tulsa*) [I'm tempted to put the GMAC lower, but their records are too good to pass up.], and finally the Orange Bowl (Cincinnati-Virginia Tech*)
I had to put the Orange bowl in the 2nd tier because it was such a bad BCS game. It’s almost like the BCS decision makers just lumped these two ugly-ducklings together because they had no other place to go except for the “Outcast BCS Bowl.” I could put the Orange Bowl in the BCS section, but I wouldn’t like it. Did you see the crowd for that game too? It wasn't even half capacity.
Rose (Penn St.-USC*), Sugar (Utah*-Alabama), and Fiesta (Ohio St.-Texas*)
BCS title game(Florida*-Oklahoma)
How I devised this formula was just for the bowl winners. A bowl win in the first tier got 1 point. In the 2nd tier, a win was 2 points. (uh oh, where'm I going with it?) A BCS bowl game win was worth 3 points, and the National Title was worth 4 points.
Here are the standings from that formula:
1. SEC and Pac 10 - 11 points
3. Mountain West and Big 12 - 8 points
5. ACC - 6 points
6. Big East and Conference USA - 5 points
8. Big 10 - 2 points
10. WAC, Sun Belt, Independents - 1 point
11. MAC - 0 points
In this formula, any bowl loser gets one point for at least making it to a bowl. A 3rd tier bowl winner gets 2 points, 2nd tier winner gets 3 points, BCS winner gets 4 points, and National Title Winner gets 5 points.
1. SEC - 18 points
2. ACC and Pac 10 - 16
4. Big 12 - 15
5. Mountain West - 13
6. Big East and Conference USA - 11
8. Big 10 - 9
9. MAC - 6
10. Independents and WAC - 4
12. Sun Belt - 3
In the final formula, the bowl winners' and losers' points are distributed by tier of bowl game. A 3rd tier loser gets 1 point, and a 3rd tier winner gets 3 points. A 2nd tier loser gets 2 points, and a 2nd tier winner gets 4 points. A BCS bowl loser gets 3 points, and a BCS winner gets 5 points. A National Title loser gets 4 points, and a National title winner gets 6 points. I did this because some bowls are more understandable to lose because they are more competitive. For example, losing the National Title game is much more understandable than losing the Motor City Bowl because that competition is at a much higher level. Would Oklahoma have won a 2nd tier bowl like the Outback or Cotton Bowl? Almost definitely they would have won. This is why formula three awards points for a high bowl loss.
1. SEC - 26 points
2. ACC - 25
3. Big 12 - 24
4. Pac 10 - 21
5. Mountain West - 18
6. Big East and Big 10 - 17
8. Conference USA - 15
9. MAC - 7
10. WAC - 6
11. Independents - 5
12. Sun Belt - 4
- The poor ol' MAC didn't win a singe bowl game they played (which was 5 third tier bowls and one second tier).
- Iowa was the only Big Ten bowl team to win.
- Pac 10 was undefeated.
- The ACC had 10 bowl teams playing in 3 3rd tier games and 7 2nd tier games (two wins in each tier of bowl).
I honestly like the third formula the best because it really factors in the strength of the bowl games even if they are lost. Losing a bowl game sucks, but a bowl game loss should not be completely discreditted because making a bowl, especially a good bowl, should still be worth something. Not making it to a bowl is much worse than losing a bowl game because not making a bowl reflects very poorly upon a team's entire season. The regular season should also make a reflection upon the bowls, and it does the best in the last formula.
Let me know if you disagree with anything.