ASK CFN (5/2) - A Foolproof BCS Solution
Mike Slive, John Swofford & Dan Beebe
Mike Slive, John Swofford & Dan Beebe
Posted May 2, 2008

Why couldn't these men, the SEC's Mike Slive, the ACC's John Swofford, and the Big 12's Dan Beebe, tweak the BCS and give the fans what they wanted? A foolproof solution for the BCS, comparing Tim Tebow to Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan to Atlanta, and more in the latest ASK CFN.

By Pete Fiutak
Fire over your questions to me at I might not be able to answer them all, but I promise they're all read. Any e-mails sent to this address may be published or edited unless requested otherwise. (Please put ASK CFN in the subject line, and PLEASE keep the questions short ... it makes my life easier.)

Past ASK CFNs ...
- An early look at OSU vs. USC
- The WVU/Rodriguez situation
- Who's the team of the decade?
- Dump Mack Brown and JoePa?!
- Big East expansion
- Is Charlie Weis on a hot seat?
- The Reggie Bush situation

- Is Bob Stoops the new Lloyd Carr?
- Why LSU winning matters
- Bowl winners & losers
- Can a two-loss team play for the title?
- The five worst recent champions 
- The Flakiest Teams
- A little BCS history
- Should USC be in the title hunt?
- The best RB you don't know
- What's wrong with Texas A&M? 
- How bad is the Big Ten?
- Will Miles run to Michigan?
- Supersized Season Premier of ASK CFN
 The most loved & hated teams
- Is Miami still a power?
- CFN's West Virginia ranking
- Is Booty Heisman-worthy?
- The USC Schedule
- The Big Ten Network
- The most underrated head coach
- The Top Ten NFL receiver prospects 

- Why did Brady Quinn slide?
- The Virginia Tech situation

- Creating a MWest-WAC super-league
Mid-majors who should be in the bigs
The potential new superpower
The 5 best coaching jobs
March Madness for football?
Potential Bowl Shockers
Tim Brewster?
Fox's BCS broadcasts
- Is Brady really better than Russell?
Hot & Cold Bowl Programs
- How ineffective was Reggie Ball?
- A 2007 Top 10 Mock Draft
Can Michigan win a national title?
- BCS possibilities for several teams
- West Virginia schedule, BCS rules
- Toughest coaching jobs
- Hidden Heisman 5

- Is Temple worst ever?
- Oklahoma-Oregon fiasco
- Has Bob Stoops lost it?
- Is Colorado done?

I know this is a daily question, but like why gas prices are so high, I still can’t get a definitive answer. What is the problem with the powers-that-be when it comes to changing the BCS, and really, within reason considering who’s in charge, how should the system be tweaked to make the most people happy? – WG

As a Pac-10 follower I just don't understand why the conference joins ranks with the Big 10 in opposing a playoff and protecting the BCS.  The Big 10 does quite nicely in the current format but the Pac 10 continually gets screwed.  It stands to reason that the Pac -10 should support a system that settles things on the field and not in votes by self interested coaches and so called experts that probably don't even bother to stay up and watch the Pac-10 play. What gives? – Alex

A: I have the answer to make this work. More on that in a moment.

The reason you’re not getting your Plus-One, or a playoff format of any kind, really does rest with the Big Ten even though Commissioner Jim Delaney will have you thinking otherwise. Oh sure, the Big 12, among others, were quick to shoot down the SEC’s proposal, but it’s the Big Ten that’s really setting the tone here because it has the best deal of the bunch. If the Big Ten joined forces with the SEC to scream for a playoff, it would happen.

The Big Ten has the strongest tie-in with a team almost certain to go to the Rose Bowl no matter what (Illinois going to Pasadena instead of Georgia proved that), and it doesn’t want to mess with a good thing. Everything is hunky dory for the Big Ten right now and a playoff doesn’t really help its cause.

The SEC wants a playoff because its star team, at least at the moment, would probably win it all most of the time. I have no idea why the Pac 10 isn’t pushing more for an expanded system since it always gets the short end of the stick (although it’s been justified, as most of the Holiday Bowls have shown) and would almost always have USC, at least in most seasons, in the top four, and the Big 12 should want in since it would likely be a lock to have a team in Plus One format every year as well.

Also hurting the cause is the flat-out wuss factor from the non-BCS leagues. It’ll take a miracle for anyone outside of the BCS to ever play for the national title, yet WAC commissioner Karl Benson, who was the spokesman for the little guys, basically said they liked things as they are.

The conferences are intellectually lazy, and as proven in this last go-round of talk, hopelessly inept. This isn’t that hard to fix, but did anyone actually try to appease everyone? No. They’re just afraid of any playoff talk leading to some full-blown 16-team format which would screw everything up, and there doesn’t need to be one (again, more on this in a moment).

College football is, to use their term, healthy right now and despite the public outcry there’s not any real reason to change what’s working from a revenue standpoint. The BCS makes roughly $80 million a year from Fox, the conferences make out great from the bowls (although most teams break even at best from their bowl trips), and at the end of the day you have five big-time teams ending the season happy, happy, joy, joy. That last part is a bigger deal than you think; ask Memphis, UCLA and North Carolina fans if they’re happy with how their basketball seasons turned out.

I know, college football playoff proposals are like fantasy football teams, golf stories, and kids. Everyone has one or two and no one has any interest in hearing about them, but I have one that would work with absolutely no room for objection from the powers-that-be.

Work with me here and realize we have to keep this in the land of the possible and reasonable.

Step One: Make the Cotton Bowl a fifth BCS game. It might end up happening anyway. Jerry Jones and his brand new stadium will make the Cotton Bowl a showcase game to potentially be at least as big as any of the non-Rose Bowl bowls. Like it is in the current format, ten teams would still get into the BCS, so those happy with the current system would still get their money.

Step Two: Seed the top four conference champions according to the BCS rankings and play them against each other … with a catch coming in Step Four. The No. 1 team plays in its host bowl against the fourth best conference champion (or Notre Dame if it finishes in the top four in the BCS rankings), and the No. 2 conference champion plays in its host bowl against the No. 3 conference champion. The Big East would have an automatic tie-in with the Cotton Bowl to make sure that all five BCS games have a shot to host one of the big games (notice I’m keeping the word playoff out of my proposal).

This year it would’ve been Ohio State in the Rose Bowl against Oklahoma and LSU in the Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech. (Remember, USC finished seventh in the BCS and also remember we have to keep this within reason; any proposal of an eight-team format would instantly get shot down.)

Step Three: The current BCS Championship Game would take the two winners and play a week later. There’s no need to add an extra game since it’s already there. The complaint about not wanting to make college football a two semester sport, a common excuse among the conferences, would be rendered moot, and yes, fans would travel to a Rose Bowl and a national title game. The relevant BCS bowls to the championship game would sell out in a heartbeat and would be even bigger than they are now.

Step Four: The Big Ten appeasement. Realizing that this only works if we make the Big Ten happy, I’m throwing in a quirky provision so the league doesn’t have to change anything, and could potentially benefit more than anyone else. Since the Big Ten doesn’t play a round-robin schedule, if two teams tie for the Big Ten title, didn’t play each other in the regular season, and finished in the top four, both teams would be in. Let’s say Ohio State goes 12-0 and is ranked No. 1 but it doesn’t play No. 4 Wisconsin, who goes 11-1 with the one loss in non-conference play. Both teams would be in.

Step Five: The BCS bowl appeasement. The big cry would come from the BCS bowls that the three that aren’t part of the national championship picture would lose some of their luster. While that’s wrong considering their bowls already have nothing to do with the national title and would still be watched by just as many viewers, we still have to make sure they’re happy. That’s why the selection rules would be changed so that the other three BCS games, whatever they might be, can select from any of the top ten BCS ranked teams. The two-team conference limit would be thrown out, so in the case of last year, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, all ranked in the top eight, would be eligible to go. Two years ago Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin would’ve been in the BCS. That would mean bigger and better matchups.

There. Now someone make it happen.

Fifty-seven percent of teams will be going to bowls this year versus only thirty-nine a decade ago. How can college football fans continue to argue that the regular season means so much more than most sports now? How can it be argued having that many teams going to bowls is good for college football? It seems like the regular season will now only matter to elite teams fighting for a BCS spot. – Phil

A: Simple. They’re bowls; not a playoff. If 57% of the teams got into a playoff, then yeah, there’s a beef that the regular season is as meaningless as it is in all the other sports. But the non-BCS Championship bowls are glorified exhibition games and outside of bragging rights they really don’t matter. If you don’t like them, don’t watch. You don’t see anyone complaining about the NIT in college basketball.

I find it funny that you continue to champion Florida Gator players over Georgia's.  Not only are they better this season but they have better prospects too right?  How is it that you can rank Tebow over Stafford in NFL draft rankings? Yesterday about every site on the net put out a mock draft for next year, not a single one ranked Tebow above Stafford.   In fact, some didn't have Tebow even coming out.  What about his skill set transfers to the NFL? He doesn't have the greatest arm, can't run a two minute drill and can’t consistently stay in the pocket and make plays. What's the reasoning here? It's obviously not production which takes Tebow out, because you clearly stated "what makes a good college player may always not make a good pro..." Look I'd rather have Stafford stay as a UGA fan, but it's hard to deny what skills he brings as a pro prospect compared to what Tim Tebow brings.
  – BS

A: This is my number one problem with the lazy world of scouting college players; they often miss the obvious. Stafford should be a No. 1 pick, but Tebow plays like a No. 1 pick. They’re both around the same size, Stafford has the better arm, but not by enough to make that much of a difference in this comparison, Tebow is way, way, way more mobile, and despite what everyone’s trying to tell you, is a better passer. I’ll put Tebow’s touch on his deep throws up against Stafford’s any day, while Tebow has been far more accurate on short to mid-range passes. However, Tebow does have to tighten up his throwing motion.

Production does count for something. While Stafford completed just 55% of his throws last year, Tebow led the nation in passing efficiency for a while and finished No. 2 behind Sam Bradford. Tebow completed 67% of his throws with just six interceptions and 32 touchdown passes, to go along with all of those rushing scores, while Stafford threw ten picks with just 19 touchdown passes. The other part of the equation is how Tebow wore down late after having to carry the team. After this year when he gets to hand the ball off more, he’ll be far better in the fourth quarter. If Alex Smith could go No. 1 overall, and Tebow is the bigger, more talented version, then he needs to be looked at as a possible No. 1 overall pick. I have nothing against Stafford, but if he’s going to be a top ten caliber pick and a franchise quarterback, he needs to play like one for a full season. 

The BCS conferences, especially the Big 10 and Pac 10, are typically characterized by the traditional style of play of their teams (e.g. Pac 10 = no defense/big passing).  I was wondering what your conference associations would be, and furthermore how would you generally characterize the non-BCS conferences? – BA

A: Of course, the characterizations are wrong considering how many receivers the Big Ten puts into the NFL and how good some of the Pac 10 defenses have been in recent years. Here’s what I perceive the biases are on a national scale when it comes to each league. Obviously I’m not saying any of these are actually right.
- ACC – A basketball league. Soft.
- Big East – A beefed up division of Conference USA.
- Big Ten – Slow. Three yards and a cloud of Field Turf.
- Big 12 – Oklahoma, Texas, and ten other teams (it used to be nine before Bill Callahan took over at Nebraska).
- Conference USA – A beefed up MAC.
- MAC – Division I-AAA.
- Mountain West – A high-octane offensive league because people in the east confuse it with the WAC.
- Pac 10 – USC and nine other teams, no defense, lots of passing.
- SEC – The good: it’s fast and very, very talented. The bad: everyone’s getting paid off and everyone is cheating.
- Sun Belt – Division II-Plus
- WAC – Throw, throw, throw, throw, throw.

As an LSU fan I am wondering what happened to Ali Highsmith in the draft.  We all knew he was undersized but most of the projections I saw placed him somewhere in the 3rd round because they thought he’d make a good weakside guy.  I heard he ran a couple of bad times on Pro Day and the combine.  Is that enough to have dropped him completely out of the draft?  I am wondering if his times at LSU, which were much better, were false.  He always looked plenty fast enough on the field though.  I heard a rumor he was injured and that contributed to his poor times and not being drafted.  But I have not been able to find anything on the internet one way or the other.  I am just wondering if you guys at CFN know what happened and why he wasn’t drafted. – LR

A: He fell through the cracks because he didn’t fit anywhere. If you’re 6-0 and 221 pounds soaking wet, you can’t play the weakside in the NFL if you run a 4.74. Of course, Colorado’s Jordon Dizon is 5-11 and 227 pounds, ran a 4.73, and was taken in the second round by Detroit. However, unlike Highsmith, Dizon is seen as more of an inside/strongside defender. Also getting killed on measurables was Maryland’s Erin Henderson. He has the size at 244 pounds, but his 4.81 was slower than many of the ends.

Am I the only one that has a major problem with Atlanta trying rebuild their team around a QB like Matt Ryan.  He may have been the best QB this year but last year, in my opinion, he would have been a mid second rounder behind Beck.  I really don't think he comes close to having "franchise quarterback" talent like Manning, Brady, or even Brees. Why not just wait a year and fill some other holes. Am I totally off base here or what? – CM

A: Ryan’s fine, but I wanted to scream every time the ESPNers and NFL Network types kept using the words Peyton and Manning when describing him. Atlanta had to get a quarterback, and it had to make a statement that it was going to rebuild around a No. 3 pick by making he investment. Not meaning this in any sort of a racial way considering who Ryan’s replacing, Atlanta needed a new start and a new face to the franchise after the ugliness of last year. The team needed to make a big PR move, and while Glenn Dorsey would’ve have been every bit the spokesman and the talent to make the team better and to heal the wounds from the Vick era, nothing signals change like a quarterback.