Monday, January 24, 2011

Automatic BCS bid for the Big East. Jeff and I exchange a couple of emails.

Truthfully, this conversation (or one like it) probably dates back to nearly 2004.  Jeff and I have debated, and rarely agreed, on sports topics for six or seven years.  We decided to have a little back and forth over sports topics again.  Below is the first of those.  I've abbreviated our names to separate the nonsense.  Enjoy.

I've been absolutely terrible about updating the blog since early December.  I intend to change that.  In the meantime, here's a little content to keep the lights on.

Also, nice job with the BCS picks Jeff.  Four of five correct with two (Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl) being awfully accurate in terms of the score.



The BCS has now been around for over 12 years, and many things have changed.  Mid majors now play a part in the national picture, a shift in power teams, and conference realignments.  There are big realignments starting next year, but a lot of people today forgot about the first big realignment.  When the BCS started, the Big East contained power teams like Miami(FL), Virginia Tech, and Boston College, which is why they got an automatic BCS bowl game bid.  But the times have changed and I believe the Big East does not deserve an automatic bid anymore.  In 2004 Miami and Virginia Tech bolted for the ACC, followed by Boston College in 2005.  To replace these three big time programs, the Big East brought in Louisville, South Florida, and Cincinnati; all three of which have not experienced much success.  A year later the Big East also added Connecticut to play football.  These 4 teams do not have the pull or success that the 3 teams that left had.  Since the big 3 left, the Big East is 3-3 in BCS bowl games, and have lost the past two by a combined score of 71-31.  2010 was the year the broke the camels back in terms of if the Big East deserves an automatic bid to BCS games.  The Big East winner in 2010 has 4 total losses, and they do not have a single team in the top 25.  This comes in the same year that the Big Ten has three teams finish 11-1 (one had to be left out of the BCS), the SEC is chalked full of great teams, and a great mid major with one slip-up.  Since the Big East has an automatic bid, teams like Michigan St, Boise St, and LSU got left out of a BCS game when they all deserve it, while an 8-4 UConn team got to go. It is time for the BCS to make some chances and not give the Big East (or as some people say, the Big Least) an automatic bid to a BCS bowl game.


I could get behind your argument here if we were making an equal comparison.  I agree that UConn isn’t the most deserving automatic qualifier we’ve ever seen, but to say that the changes in the Big East are the reason to remove them now is absurd to me.  You point to power teams like Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College being replaced by lesser programs in Louisville, South Florida, Cincinnati, and UConn.  In terms of tradition, I concede that you’re right.  Miami and Virginia Tech have far greater football traditions than the schools that replaced them in the Big East.  However, we’re not talking about tradition; we’re talking about since 2004.  When you focus on the relevant years, you could argue that ALL of the Big East “replacements” have been as relevant or more relevant than Miami and Boston College.  Cincinnati was a BCS team last year and struggled this year after losing their best receiver, starting QB, and head coach.  This is, admittedly, a down year for the Big East, but they’ve made proactive efforts to increase the competitiveness of their conference.  Rather than sit on their hands when the Big Ten and Pac 10 tried to bully their way into even more prominent roles on the national landscape, the Big East added a team in TCU that will be able to consistently compete in that conference.  Ultimately, the BCS is flawed, and you’ll get no argument there, but as long as we stick with that system, I see no reason to change the automatic bids.  If we start doing that, where do we stop?  For several years, the only worthy BCS team from the Pac 10 was USC.  Should we eliminate their automatic bid?  With the new found parity in college football, we will continue to see programs rise and fall.  If we’re stuck with the BCS, why keep tweaking it?

I will give it to you that the replacement teams have had some success in the Big East. Louisville and Cincinnati have both won the conference since joining, and Cincy has actual won twice.  The main reason I say the Big East does not belong is because since 2004, the average ranking of their conference winner is, who is their BCS representative, is above #13.  That ranking is the lowest average for a conference winner of all automatic qualifying conferences.  I think most people agree that for the past few years the Big East has been the weakest of the automatic qualifying conference.  As other conference have down years, they will still have 1-2 teams step up and be in the national spotlight competing for a national championship.  The Big East on the other hand will have maybe one team show up, but it is commonly known that that team is not as strong as other conference leaders.  It seems to be a trend that since 2004, the Big East has been in a decline, and I did not see an end to that until a few weeks ago when they invited TCU to join.  Once TCU joins in 2012, I will agree that the Big East will once again be competitive with the rest of the nation just because of TCU.  I expect TCU to win and win often in the Big East.  Now does just adding one school make them more BCS worthy?  I would say no.  I have lost all confidence that a team from the Big East can compete for a national championship.  I will keep that mindset until some team proves they can once again play with the big boys.  Will the BCS ever make a drastic change like this?  Nope.  If anything they will add more conferences.  We know the BCS is going nowhere any time soon, even though we can hope.  As for the Big East though, I’m waiting for them to prove me wrong and that they belong with the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, Pac-10 and ACC.

The problem is that as long as you have the BCS, you’ll have automatic bids.  It’s not unreasonable to think that the talent pool in the Big East is shallower than that of the other automatic qualifying conferences, but the BCS is already trying to shed an elitist image.  Further shrinking the number of conferences with guarantees tarnishes an already tarnished system even further.  Also, if you replace the automatic qualifiers with another at large bid, who does it go to?  There are already rules in place that no conference can have more than two teams in the BCS (see Michigan State and Alabama on the outside looking in this year).  You’re basically trying to blow holes in a system that is already full of them.  Ultimately, I don’t care much if the Big East has an automatic bid or not because the entire system should be eliminated and replaced with a playoff.  There’s no need for automatics in sports, and on that principle I can agree with you, but if you eliminate one then you ought to eliminate all.  Of course, the other option is to replace the Big East with another conference.  I hear the MAC’s available.  One final note.  Had you made this argument two years ago, would you have assumed that the Big Ten and Pac 10 would have 12 teams?  We don’t even know if the Big East will be the Big East going forward.  If your car has a blown engine and a flat tire, fixing the flat tire isn’t going to get it out of the garage.  The Big East is the flat tire.  Let’s get the car running first.