Monday, November 09, 2009

College Football and Computers: A BCS Mess

There’s hardly a part of your life where computer skills can’t help you be better at what you do, both at the office and at home. We’ve been teaching just that for 22 years here at Video Professor.

With one exception, however: college football.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out how computers should factor into who should, and who shouldn’t, play for the national championship. The folks at the Bowl Championship Series do, however, and it provides no small amount of grist for sports pundits, reporters et al.

The BCS combines a labyrinth of polls and computer rankings to decide the best teams in the land, and who should play for the various games in the Bowl Championship Series.

Computers compute. But they have no heart, no soul, no true passion for the game. Sports is about passion. (And heartbreak!)

I follow a weekly “bracket” each week at

Okay, it’s put together by SI’s own pundits and scribes, but it’s close to what could be a legitimate play-off system, which could really go toward deciding a national champion in college football.

The idea of a play-off system in college sports isn’t a new one. It exists in many sports, not the least of which is the fabled NCAA basketball tournament.

A journey that starts with 64 teams and then narrows down to the Sweet 16 and then to the Final 4. (Sorry, I can’t embrace the “Great 8” yet.)

In the NCAA basketball tournament, everyone gets a shot. When it comes to football, it’s a case of the have’s and the have-nots. Great teams can go undefeated, but because they play in “non-BCS” divisions, they have no shot at knocking off a Florida or Texas.

President Obama likes the idea of a play-off, and he has an ally from the “loyal opposition” in Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah.

Let’s hope the NCAA figures out a way to make it work before the government tries. NCAA “reform” would make the current arguments going on in Washington pale in comparison.

Every NCAA Division 1 conference should have a champion. That champion should have a shot at becoming the national champion.

The decision should be made on the playing field, not inside a computer chip. Or, worse yet, Congress.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at