Nick Holt, the BCS and
the Pac-10BCS: The Bailout Compensation SchemeRichard Linde,
5 January 2009
Recent rumors about the
vacant defensive coordinator's position at the University of Washington have
centered around Nick Holt, who is USC's defensive coordinator and
defensive line coach.
Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News, as
reported by Molly Yanity of the Seattle P-I,
"Holt says nothing's going on since he
initially said no three weeks ago."
to Yanity today,
Holt is still in the running.
Why, on earth, would a
guy like Nick Holt want Washington's D/C job, knowing that it could be a
dead-end position leading to nowhere? Apparently, Holt would have total
control over the defense at UW, unlike his current role at USC, where
evidently he's playing second fiddle to Pete Carroll, who is calling the
shots on game day.
Holt's and Carroll's defense at USC is
the best in the nation, capable of embarrassing any of the nationís
highly-touted teams on any field, given the chance to play them.
That wonít happen,
however, because of the bias built into the BCS formula. Call it the
Bailout Cash Scheme or the Bailout Compensation Scheme.
BCS football is all
about the money, as if you didn't know. Most university athletics
programs are starved for cash because of increasing costs involved in
fielding athletics teams and the cost of supporting non-revenue
athletics programs, such as Title IX. The Bowl Championship Series is
one way of compensating for the shortfall in money. There is nothing
wrong with that, except for a problem with the semantics of the acronym.
The BCS is not designed to
produce a national champion in football; though, in some people's minds, it deigns to do so.
If the system doesn't
produce a national champion or even produce a BCS champion that everyone
can agree on, does the BCS distribute its proceeds fairly among the six
participating power conferences? That's the real question and the whole
purpose of the scheme.
Unfortunately, the BCS
formula is controlled by a block of voters that we
westerners call the eastern mafia. The mafia (i.e., the majority of the voters)
seemingly champion the cause of three major conferences: the SEC, Big Ten, and Big 12.
The voters know that big-money bowls buy better facilities and, as
a consequence, the ultra-modern facilities attract better athletes. More
money translating into better facilities means a huge recruiting
advantage, kind of like Notre Dameís sweetheart deal with NBC and the BCS.
The system, where
won/lost records are paramount, encourages
teams to schedule out-of-conference patsies at home and not participate
in a true-round-robin conference schedule. For example, the eleven teams
in the Big Ten play eight conference games, leaving plenty of room to
schedule schlocks and pad one's record. On the other hand, each team in
the Pac-10 plays nine conference games. USC, which is annually targeted
by the other conference members, has proven that it is impossible play a
full conference schedule and go unbeaten with a target on your back.
This season, the
eastern mafia posited the canard that USC should not be given credit for
playing in a "weak" conference, the Pac-10, and, thusly, should be voted down
in the polls after it lost to Oregon State in its fourth game. USC ended up fifth in the BCS
poll, even though it is clearly the nation's best team in most experts'
opinions. USC had the lowest computer ranking of the seven top teams.
The money earned from
playing in the BCS bowls is shared among the universities belonging to
each participating conference.
In the past three
years, there have been fifteen BCS bowl games, five bowl games
played per year, each of which has been played in the Rose Bowl, the
Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl and the bowl hosting the
national championship game. During that time, the SEC and Big 10
each placed six teams in the fifteen bowls, two each per year, and Big 12 teams have participated in
five of the fifteen possible bowls. Pac-10 teams have been relegated to just three Rose
Arguably the Pac-10 is the strongest
football conference in the nation;
this year the conference won all five of its bowl games. Since the inception of
the BCS and as of this date, the Pac-10 has the highest-winning
percentage of any of the six BCS conferences participating in BCS bowl
doesnít need a playoff system; rather it needs someone to clean up the BCS
formula, to even the playing field so that teams from the Pac-10 and ACC, for
example, have a chance to send two teams to the five BCS bowls,
where the payoffs are in the $23 million range. Two thirds of the
BCS formula is determined by the human
factor, where biases and subjectivity run rampant. The other third is determined by
taking four of the six computer polls, where the high and low numbers
are tossed out.
Of the ten teams that
play in the five BCS bowls, six are chosen from the six BCS conferences
(the ACC, the Big East, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the SEC and the
Pac-10), along with four at large births.
According to an article
in the New York Times, "This season, the first
team in each conference to qualify receives $18 million ó win, lose or
draw ó and that money is distributed in that teamís conference. If a
second team from a conference qualifies, the conference shares an
additional $4.5 million."
Notre Dame receives an
automatic $1.3 million reward whether if plays in a BCS bowl or not.
Of the 119 teams in FBS
football, only 66 are automatically eligible to play for the BCS
championship. Is that fair to most of the other teams which are excluded from
the competition? Answer: Yes.
66 eligible teams are playing for the BCS championship, not the national
championship. It is an agreement among six conferences that has nothing
to do with picking an NCAA-sanctioned national champion. Calling the
BCS champion a national champion is where all the fuzzy thinking
revolves and confusion arises.
I don't have any problem with calling the
BCS champion a mythical national champion, as long as the word mythical
real national champion in college football is altogether another topic
and would involve a complex playoff system.