Overhauling the system isn't difficult

Originally Published: December 14, 2004
By Rod Gilmore | ESPN Insider
It is no longer avoidable: The BCS must undergo major changes. With each day comes another significant crack in the system.

During the season, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said he had to run up the score because of the BCS. After a late loss to Texas, Kansas coach Mark Mangino implied that officials made calls in favor of Texas so the Big 12 could get a second team into the BCS and earn more money for the conference. After California was left out in favor of Texas, Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen demanded the coaches reveal their votes because some of them dropped Cal unreasonably low. The coaches' association refused, and Michigan's Lloyd Carr said he would give up his vote before making it public.

On Tuesday, the Associated Press demanded that the BCS stop using its poll as part of the BCS. AP voters were lobbied, even harassed, by fans in the final week of the season, and the public disclosure of their votes made some AP voters targets. The AP said having its poll used by the BCS has "harmed AP's reputation."

It seems everyone has lost confidence in the BCS system. This didn't happen overnight. The well-documented problems in the seven-year history of the BCS contributed to a steady erosion of confidence.

The BCS commissioners see the handwriting on the wall. That's why they recently announced they would consider using a selection committee – similar to basketball's NCAA tournament selection committee – to select the top two teams for the championship game. But that doesn't go far enough. A tweak dealing with the top two teams will not solve the fundamental problems facing the BCS. Changes to the system must address accountability and money.

Under the current system, no one is accountable for determining the BCS matchups because the BCS formula is one-third computer rankings, one-third AP Poll and one-third coaches' poll (and the coaches don't reveal their votes).

Moreover, the financial windfall teams get for participating in a BCS game has led to bickering, additional pressure, premature firings and the unflattering specter of student-athletes playing a single game with $14 million at stake for their school and conference (e.g., Utah's final game with BYU).

We need to move away from a model that says the further student-athletes advance, the more money they make for their schools. That's inconsistent with amateurism. That's the NFL.

Since university presidents have made it clear there will be no playoffs anytime soon, how do we solve this? I've prepared a three-step outline for a comprehensive restructuring of the BCS. My plan doesn't include moving the initial polls back, something that has been proposed in many how-to-fix-it plans. The early polls generate interest in the summer and early weeks of the season.

Here is what I would do:

Rod Gilmore

College Football analyst
Rod Gilmore serves as an ESPN studio analyst on SportsCenter and College Football Live, and provides commentary on ESPN's Friday night game telecasts. He writes regularly for ESPN Insider.