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Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville Cries Out Against BCS

While at the Montgomery Touchdown Club earlier this week, Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville spoke out against the BCS system and the national media. He was particularly upset with ESPN for what he claims is predetermining the national championship game as a Texas-USC matchup. He says:

It's done. The national media, led by ESPN, wants to see Vince Young versus Matt Leinart in the championship game. It's going to be those two teams unless Texas or USC get upset. Last year, they wanted to see the two Heisman Trophy quarterbacks, Jason White and Leinart. After six or seven games, we were out of it.

Quite the defeatist attitude! He may have every right to be upset after getting shut out of last year's Orange Bowl, but this is just misdirected anger. Has anyone shown Tuberville this year's BCS formula? News flash: the national media does not get a vote! The Associated Press decided at the end of the 2004 season to not allow its poll to be used in the BCS ranking system.

Therefore, the national media has very little to say in terms of who the top two teams are. Tuberville's counterparts, the coaches, in fact, have more say per capita than any other component that is figured into the standings. Sixty-one coaches compose the USA Today Poll, which bears the same weighting as the 114-member Harris Poll. The third equally-weighted component is the average of a team's best five out of six computer rankings.

So how much influence does ESPN and the rest of the national media really have? I doubt they have any influence over the coaches. They certainly have no influence over six independent and unbiased algorithms that come up with the new computer ratings each week. So what about the Harris Poll? I suppose it could be argued that they have some degree of influence over some of these voters. In fact, 25 of the 114 voters are members of the media. The rest, however, are current college administrators, former players, and former coaches.

In fact, then, direct influence by these 25 members of the media account for less than 8% of the overall BCS standings. This is a big difference over last year, when 65 members of the AP accounted for 1/3 of the overall BCS standings.

Even if ESPN has an influence over many of the Harris Poll voters, how big of an influence is it? And is ESPN really biased toward a Texas-USC showdown on January 4th?

And what's with the hate directed toward Lou Holtz? Tuberville went on to say:

ESPN has gotten so much power lately, it's kinda scary. Most of their analysts are coaches who haven't won any games. Lou Holtz gets on there and talks about what a team has to do to win that game and the guy couldn't beat anybody in our conference.

Criticizing ESPN is one thing. And in my opinion that's misdirected enough. There's no need to take a shot at Holtz. Sure the guy struggled at South Carolina. Who wouldn't have? Even Steve Spurrier is having fits there! Holtz won a national championship with Notre Dame in 1988 and had near-misses in 1989 and 1993. Holtz doesn't deserve that cheap shot and Tuberville weakens his case by being so rash.

The bottom line is the system we have is not perfect. Until we move to a playoff, there will be no perfect way to crown a national champion. But it is what it is. Blame the college chancellors and presidents all you want. But laying all the fault on ESPN and the rest of the national media is nonsense. Tuberville will have his chance within this hour to expand on his argument when he appears as a guest on the Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio.


I keep hearing about the playoff being the answer to all debates.

But who determines the teams that make it to the playoffs? Aren't we going to have a controversy about which teams make it and which don't? Especially at the bottom of that playoff list?

As long as there are human beings involved in the decision making, there is bound to be controversy.

I would actually prefer to not see a playoff. I am one of the few who was happy with the way things were, even before the BCS was created. I wish we weren't so obsessed with needing to crown one single national champion each year. I like college football for the meaningful regular season games, especially the classic rivalries, and the bowl games that were originally intended to serve as post-season contests between two great teams that had superior seasons. This season-long arguing about the BCS and who #1 really is, in my mind, takes the spotlight off of some of the things that make this sport so great. Anyway, before I go off on a long rant, I'll address your comment, Mr. Trojan.

Certainly, I do not think that a playoff would be the end of all debates. But it would help put an end to most of them. In the vast majority of seasons, even just four-team playoff would include every undefeated team, so we would not have another situation where a 12-0 Auburn team got left behind. Sure, a one-loss #5 team might feel slighted with a four-team playoff, but they'd have much less of a gripe than an undefeated #3 team in our current system.

With that said, is there a perfect system? No! But the bottom line is some sort of playoff is the best way to determine a national champion. I don't think anyone can rightfully argue against that. Only with a playoff can you match the competing teams on the field, instead of in the minds of the pollsters and the formulas of the computer ratings.

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