College Football: Who Is Really No. 1At the conclusion of each college football season the Bowl Alliance selects the nations top football teams to play in select bowls. The way the Bowl Alliance selects who plays in the bowls, and because college football does not have a championship series, like college basketball, a number one vs. number two match-up for the national championship is never guaranteed.

With this setup, many fans agree that a true national champion can not always be crowned. In the past, because of the Bowl Alliance, two national champions have been crowned at the conclusion of a single season. Just recently, at the conclusion of the 1997 season, Michigan and Nebraska were forced to share the national championship. Even though a championship had been shared several times before, there was much controversy over this one. Michigan fans thought that Michigan should be the sole possessor of the crown, and Husker fans thought the same for Nebraska.

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To avoid more co-champions in the future, and to guarantee a match-up between the top two teams in the nation each year, a new system was setup prior to the 1998 season. This new system setup by ABC Sports and the NCAA is called the Bowl Championship Series or BCS for short.The Bowl Championship Series is a point system that selects what college football teams will play in one of the four major bowls. The bowls in the BCS include: the Rose Bowl, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, the Nokia Sugar Bowl, and the FedEx Orange Bowl.

Not only does the BCS decide who plays in those bowls, but also who will play for the right to be crowned national champions. The way the system works is somewhat complicated but very effective. Points are awarded by a formula with a combination of poll rankings, computer averages, strength of schedule, and losses. All the points are added together and ranked from least to greatest. The average of the rankings in the Associated Press Poll and the USA Today/ESPN Poll is the first component in the formula.

If a team were ranked number one in one poll and number two in the other, they would receive 1.5 points in this component of the formula.The second component of the formula is also an average. There are eight major computers that rank each team. The computers are called Richard Billinglsey, Dunkel Index, Kenneth Massey, NY Times, David Rothman, Jeff Sagarin, Scripps-Howard and Seattle Times.The highest of the eight rankings is then dropped and the seven remaining rankings are averaged.

If a team receives three twos, two three, two fours, and a five, the five would be dropped and the remaining seven are averaged, and the team is awarded 2.86 points (20/7 = 2.86) as the second component in the formula.

The third component of the formula is often the hardest to understand. This component is a separate formula that calculates the teams schedule strength. The BCS rules according to ABC Sports state: The Strength of Schedule component is calculated by determining the cumulative won/loss records of the team’s opponents and the cumulative won/loss records of the teams’ opponents’ opponents. The formula shall be weighted two-thirds for the opponent’s record and one-third for the opponents’ opponents record.

The team’s schedule strength shall be calculated to determine in which quartile it will rank: 1-25, 26-50; 51-75; 76-100 and shall be further quantified by its ranking within each quartile, divided by 25. For example, if a team’s schedule strength rating is 28th in the nation, that team would receive 1.12 points (28/25 = 1.12).

Should a team play a Division I-AA opponent, only the losses of the Division I-AA team shall be used in determining the opponent’s record or the opponent’s opponents’ record. Division I-A and Division I-AA are based on the size of the school and approximately how many people attend the colleges games.The final component in the BCS Rankings is the teams losses.

Each loss equals one point. All four components of the BCS rankings will be added up, and ranked least to greatest in points. The lowest total is first, the second lowest is second in the BCS Rankings, and so on. At the end of the season the top two teams will automatically play in the national championship game. Each year the game between the top two teams in nation will be rotated between the four bowls. The other three games use regional consideration similar to the old Bowl Alliance, if the top team from each division is not involved in the championship game. In the case that the top team from a region is involved in the national championship game, any Division I-A team not in the region or a different conference can qualify.

The teams have to be ranked sixth or higher in the final BCS Rankings in order to qualify for this bowl opening. If no teams fit that criteria, any other Division I-A team with at least eight wins during the regular season, not including exempt games, and a ranking at least in the top 12 of the final BCS Rankings can qualify for selection.Jack Arute, an ABC Sports and college football announcer, recently wrote, What’s nice about the BCS isthe rankings are doing what their supposed to do. Right now, it simply serves as a tip-sheet for determining who might play who for the national championship to help us out before the all-important final rankings come out on Dec. 5. With the implementation of the Bowl Championship Series, there will no longer be co-national champions or a questionable single national champion.

The reason being the top two teams in the nation will always face off for the national championship.

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