It wasn't pretty, and I wouldn't watch the game again if you paid me. But like it or not, the Alabama Crimson Tide are your BCS Champions.
Did the BCS get it right? Alabama would probably pass the eyeball test, but is their résumé truly the best in the country?
Let's check it out. Here are 3 teams, with their various wins and one loss, along with the Sagarin Rating for their opponent.
|Team A||Team B||Team C|
|WIN - 4||WIN -2||WIN -1|
|WIN - 7||WIN -6||WIN -5|
|WIN -13||WIN - 28||WIN -6|
|WIN -14||WIN -29||WIN -21|
|WIN -16||WIN -31||WIN -22|
|WIN -17||WIN -33||WIN -29|
|WIN -19||WIN -42||WIN -31|
|WIN -35||WIN -50||WIN -33|
|WIN -53||WIN -81||WIN -50|
|WIN -64||WIN -103||WIN -85|
|WIN -82||WIN -116||WIN -101|
|WIN -91||WIN -121||WIN -103|
|LOSS - 43 (Road/2OT)||LOSS - 2 (Home/OT)||WIN -167|
|LOSS - 1 (Neutral/Reg)|
If you've even remotely been following college football this year, then you know exactly who each team is. But try to throw away any preconceived notions and just look at their respective bodies of work.
One can sort the teams in several different ways. Before the bowls, the most popular method was to choose the team with the "best" loss. Clearly, you can throw out Team A. Double overtime on the road still isn't anything to scoff at, but the 43rd rank team knocks it down a notch.
Between the other two teams, those are pretty close. Based on ranking alone, Team C has the best "loss" since it was against the #1 team and technically a neutral site. However, knowing what we know, I'd be remiss to omit the fact that it was pretty deep in Team C's territory, and they were beaten far more handily than Team B was, in their loss.
By the "best loss" method, Team B gets the slight nod over Team C, with Team A trailing them both.
However, the biggest problem with the "best loss" method is that it ignores over 90% of the season. When the "quality" of losses are that close, shouldn't we look at the quality of their wins as well?
Based on the "Strength of Schedule" argument, Team A has the significant advantage. Team C is easily 2nd, and Team B is a distant third.
Average rating of opponents in wins:
Team A: 34.58
Team B: 53.5
Team C: 50.37
So who's the true champion here? Based on the strength of schedule for both wins and losses, nothing is truly conclusive. Based on common opponents, we learn nothing. Team A has no opponents in common with either Team B or C, and Teams B and C not only had the exact same results against common opponents, they also split 2 games between the two of them.
What have we really learned from the BCS system? Honestly... nothing. As always, we know who we THINK is better. But as we've seen many times, the best team isn't always the team that wins the game. Just ask Boise State, Utah or Appalachian State.
Worse yet, this isn't the first time this has happened. Do we KNOW that Auburn was better than TCU after the 2010 season? We think so, but do we KNOW? Nope. How about Boise State the year before? And Utah, the year before that? In 2007, there were a half dozen teams that had a strong title claim.
In 2006, it looked like Ohio State and Michigan were the two best teams in the country. Then Ohio State beat Michigan by a field goal, and Michigan was relegated to the Rose Bowl instead of a chance to rematch for the title, like Alabama got to do. We learned that it was the right move at the time, when Florida routed Ohio State and USC beat Michigan. Why wasn't that precedent followed this year in an almost identical situation?
Whether your favorite team got hosed, or won a championship... there's no denying that this system is wrong, and it's broken. It's time to fix it. Will it be the end of the world if the best team on paper isn't in the championship? Absolutely not... if their on-field play dictates it. Let's settle it on the field, and not in some shady back-room ballot box. Fix college football, and end this insanity.