BCS System Could Be Overhauled With A Possible Change By Eliminating Automatic Qualifying Conferences

There is some interesting news coming out about the BCS system could see a complete overhaul, starting with the elimination of automatic-qualifying leagues. Interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas discussed the idea of eliminating automatic tie-ins:

"I think there is growing sentiment to eliminate the automatic qualification part of the BCS," Neinas told CBSSports.com this week. "You can see what's happening. They [conferences] are gerrymandering all over the place under the intent to maintain an automatic qualification. History has shown you don't need that if you are qualified."

[...]

"You can make it on your merit without having to be in an automatic qualifying situation," Neinas said. "That would solve some problems here with people just scrambling because they think they have to take in certain institutions. Let's eliminate automatic qualification. If you merit it, you're in ...

"The point is, then you wouldn't have this effort to cobble together a conference for the purpose of automatic qualification."

Neinas is technically correct, but there has not been this magnitude of teams changing leagues since perhaps the fall of the SWC and 16-team WAC. However, a playoff would be a better option to slow down or possibly stop conference realignment -- assuming a playoff is inclusive and not exclusive as the BCS currently is.

An example given in the article is to allow the top-10 teams in the BCS rankings to go to a bowl game, and that would also eliminate the rule that only two teams from a league can go to a BCS bowl game. There also would be a fight amongst the Rose Bowl who likes their tradition of their game hosting the Big 10 and Pac-12 champions.
The ACC and Big East would be against this since their teams have not historically had their conference champion in the top 10. Going back to the beginning of the BCS in 1998 :here is a list of teams that would not have qualified by being outside the top 10:

1998-99: No. 15 Syracuse Orange

2000-01: No. 17 Purdue Boilermakers, No. 11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

2001-02: No. 13 LSU Tigers

2002-03: No. 14 Florida St. Seminoles

2004-05: No. 13 Michigan Wolverines, No. 21 Pittsburgh Panthers

2005-06: No. 11 West Virginia Mountaineers, No. 22 Florida St. Seminoles

2006-07: No. 14 Wake Forest Demon Deacons

2007-08: No. 13 Illinois Fighting Illini

2008-09: No. 19 Virginia Tech Hokies, No. 12 Cincinnati Bearcats

2010-11: Unranked Connecticut Huskies, No. 13 Virginia Tech Hokies

That is five Big East teams and ACC teams who would be out of a BCS game if being ranked in the top 10 is a requirement, so there is the reasoning why those two leagues would be against that idea. Teams that missed out on BCS bowl games while being in the top 10 would have been Missouri (2007), Texas Tech (2008), Boise State (2008, 2010), Iowa (2009), Georgia Tech (2009) and Michigan State (2010).

Money is another issue because right now the six automatic qualifying leagues earn the lion's share of the money which is around $20-$22 million per league and then about $4 million if a second team from one league makes a BCS game. The amount of money distributed might be the same with the bulk going to team one and then the lower shares going to team two, three and so on. Then the leagues who do not have a team qualify share a percentage of the cash. That is my best guess, and if the Big East or ACC do not qualify they would take a sizable chunk of their athletic budget as well as not be able to support those lower level bowl teams who lose money on their bowl game.

This would technically allow for more access from the current non-BCS teams, because if Houston and Boise State get in the top 10 this year only the higher ranked team is guaranteed of a BCS bowl game. If every top-10 team gets to go then Houston would qualify for a BCS bowl game instead of being regulated to play an also-ran SEC team in the Liberty Bowl.

Any changes in the BCS system will not occur until the 2014 bowl season and discussion with ESPN -- the current rights holder of the BCS -- during their exclusive negotiation period does not begin until October, so discussions about a new format will probably begin in the Spring at the annual BCS meetings.

One concern of the top I can see is that the out of conference schedule taking another hit, because the SEC and Big 10 are strong leagues there is no need to play a decent out of conference schedule, because if they win in their league they will move up.
Who knows, maybe eliminating automatic leagues would lead to some sort of playoff down the road.

 

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