REVIEWS posted on Facebook 18APR 2012
Nov 18, 2009 08:00 PM by Richard Coreno
Ask a college football fan about the Bowl Championship Series and be prepared for an earful on how it must be overhauled - or done away with - to determine a true national champion in the 120-member NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as NCAA Division I-A).
College football researcher John J. Trombetti adds a different twist to crown the gridiron king - while making more bowl games relevant and financially successful - in December Dream: Qualifying for the Final BCS Rankings (November 2009, Infinity Publishing, www.bbotw.com).The BCS consists of four traditional contests - the Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi, Allstate Sugar Bowl, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, FedEx Orange Bowl - and the Citi BCS National Championship Game.
"It is a fine system, and I think it can outlast the test of time," writes Trombetti. "It is a formula that uses the human polls and computers to determine the best possible candidates to play for the National Championship.
"The Harris Interactive Poll (media, former coaches and former players) and the USA Today Coaches’ Poll (59 voters, who are members of the American Football Coaches Association) each make up one-third of the total BCS Poll ranking. The computer poll (using six ranking systems) makes up one-third of the rankings of the entire BCS Poll. There are two additional components to be added to the BCS formula: the strength of schedule and the team’s record."
Trombetti utilizes a solid game plan to explore the history of the BCS, which was created in 1998 to determine the winner of the American Football Coaches Association National Championship Trophy - recognized in the final coaches’ poll, but not by the NCAA - and participants in the major bowl games.
The system has been adjusted due to several controversies over the years, which includes the number of polls utilized and providing "mid-major" conference teams a place to race in the derby. The BCS poll of the top 25 teams is initially published about halfway through the season and updated weekly until the final ranking is released after the conference championship games.
An impressive computer formula is the Colley Matrix System of Wesley N. Colley, Ph. D., according to Trombotti: "(The Colley system rates well) with the media and coaches on the National Champion; most often agreed on the top five; and agreed on the top 10 within a place or two. [So it seems to me that this system may be a good substitute for the replacement of the media and coaches…does it seem that way to you?]"
The top two teams in the final BCS poll are in the title game, with automatic bowl bids guaranteed to the champions of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12, Big East, Big 10, Pac-10 and S outheastern Conference. Criteria is included so Notre Dame, an independent, can receive an automatic berth, along with a bid available to the highest ranked champion from Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference and the Western Athletic Conference. Additional "at-large" spots are issued by the bowl committees.
There are another 29 bowl games, with new contests slated for New York City after the 2010 season and Dallas, Texas, in 2011. In a section that chronicles the bowl system since 1902, Trombetti explains that there would be a lot to lose if this format was merged into a playoff system or eliminated for a tournament styled after basketball’s NCAA "March Madness."
"In essence, the bowls were created to promote tourism by bringing in the top teams of the country to play in the games," he writes. "Today, the bowls are promoted by the cities that host the games for economic development, and the advertising of those companies that want the exposure with their names included in the title of the game.
"As you may know, the bowls we have today are financial windfalls for the schools and conferences that participate. Last year alone [2008 season], the bowl payout maxed out over one quarter of a BILLION dollars. A playoff system using the bowls would, could, limit distribution of these funds to fewer schools and conferences. With this amount of money available to the participants, do you really think a playoff scenario could ever be reached using the Bowl System we have today?"
Trombetti reaches pay dirt as he explains in detail his proposal to retain the BCS and bowls, which has an initial regular season schedule of 11 games, with the conference championships played no later than the weekend after Thanksgiving Day. The BCS rankings would include all FCS programs, which will position teams for a special slate of games to end the season. The contests would occur two weeks after Thanksgiving and cover four days. Bowl selections would follow the unique feast inside stadiums throughout the nation.
"And, the end result will produce a more decisive winner (in the BCS title game) than ever before," he writes.
Review by Gregg Elder
It seems every year, about this time, there is a lot of discussion concerning the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and its Bowl Championship Series (BCS). The BCS was designed to create a national champion for Division I collegiate football teams. However, one thing that you can say that it does is create controversy. This year is no different, especially since Congress is now weighing in, saying that a "national champion" cannot be determined without a play-off system in Division I (the other divisions in college football have a play-off system to determine their National Champions). In advance of this year's conversation, comes a small book dedicated to the BCS with a possible solution to the issue. December Dream: Qualifying for the Final BCS Rankings (November 2009, Infinity Publishing, www.bbotw.com), by John Trombetti, should soon be available soon, is a good review of the BCS and includes his thoughts on crowning a true National Champion, without the controversy.
Dedication; The Opening Chapter; The Computer Polls; The Human Pollsters; The Start of the Bowl System; Analysis and Discussion; What If; Shall We Have; Appendix I; Appendix II; Appendix III; Appendix IV; Bibliography
Starting the book by providing a historical perspective of the college bowl games and then moving into the polls that make up the BCS gives the reader excellent insight into big time college football and the polls. Trombetti uses this opportunity to illuminate the rise of the bowl games, and the economic impact they have on the cities and sponsors. As more bowl games were added to the end of the season, and the use of human polls, where favoritism and partiality come into play, to determine the national champion, it became clear to the NCAA that another method was needed to decide the best team. However, in the first year of the BCS, 1998, Trombetti points out that there was controversy centering around #3 ranked Kansas State (one loss), which resulted in the "Kansas State Rule" for the BCS, where a #3 team can be invited to play in a BCS Bowl Game. Of course, that is not the only controversy from the BCS and he provides plenty of other examples through the years. Even with these reminders, Trombetti shows his knowledge of the system by providing his thoughts on how the NCAA could have mitigated these problems. As there does not appear to be a play-off system on the horizon, due to the size of the current bowl payouts (in 2008, Trombetti notes that over a quarter BILLION dollars were in play) and the different agendas of the university presidents and coaches, he still provides a rational, and lucrative, play-off system that would yield a more decisive BCS champion.
The early chapters, while providing the foundation for the rest of the book and were necessary, were difficult to read as Trombetti described the peculiarities of each poll that makes up the BCS. However, even for the casual college football fan, he does a good job of illuminating the differences in each poll and they are rather interesting. The book really hits its stride as Trombetti describes the history of each bowl game, the original purpose of each, and the payouts per team. Building upon that, he wastes no time moving into the analysis of the BCS and his well reasoned argument for a play-off system that would benefit more teams, cities, and television networks. While this is a small book (98 pages), he packs a lot of information into it without wasting a lot of time on any one chapter. December Dream could have benefited from a few things; better editing, a more readable format for the BCS Series Standings, and accessible descriptions of the individual polls. Finally, as I read it, I couldn't help thinking it was more a college thesis than an approachable book on the BCS. Trombetti knows his subject matter, that is very clear, however he needed to connect with the reader. December Dream: Qualifying for the Final BCS Rankings is an excellent analysis of the BCS that culminates in arguably the best reasoned approach to a true National Champion.
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