BCS Bits - Revenue, Computers and More (Nov. 5, 2009) This week, we check the mailbag....

Question: I read in the "Bits" about how BCS revenue is distributed to the non-AQ conferences-nine percent, plus another nine percent if a non-AQ team plays in one of the games.  I get that, but tell me this:  What happens if they send two teams to BCS bowl games?

Answer: The non-AQ group would receive 18 percent of the net revenue, plus the $4.5 million that goes to any conference with a second team in one of the games.

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Question:
How does the BCS select teams?

Answer:
Actually, the BCS doesn't select teams. Remember that the BCS is an event, not an entity. Teams earn their way into the BCS games in one of two ways: they qualify automatically, or they earn a spot in the at-large pool and thus are available to be selected by one of the bowls.

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Question:
How many at-large berths are available?

Answer:  The maximum number of at-large berths available is four; the minimum is zero-but that's virtually impossible.  Click here for full selection information.

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Question: Why don't the computer rankings include a factor for margin of victory?

Answer: As you know, computer rankings that include margin of victory cannot be a part of the BCS Standings.

From the heart, it's a matter of sportsmanship.

From the brain, victory margin can be misleading. For example, (1) a 63-0 victory over Ancient and Respected Rival isn't the same as a 63-0 victory over Hobart Junior High; (2) if a team comes from behind by using three pick-sixes and an 80-yard blocked-field goal return to score 28 points in the fourth quarter and win, 35-31, it's not the same as an old-fashioned 7-3 slugfest; (3) a 7-6 game played in the snow might have been 35-6 on dry land.

The 11 conference commissioners, who together manage the BCS, realize that no computer can analyze all of those factors plus dozens more.  Real human beings, who constitute two-thirds of the BCS Standings through the coaches poll and the Harris poll, can.  The commissioners believe the balance is appropriate.

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Question:
Why not place a cap on margin of victory, by factoring in all margins up to 20 points?

Answer:
From this non-mathematician, it's clear that the above problems would still exist.  Here's the take from two guys who know; they're computer-rankings providers who have been a part of the BCS Standings for all 12 years:

Jeff Sagarin: "In a pure points system, if a team is about to play an opponent over which it is currently rated such that it would be favored by an amount more than the cap, then that team would automatically go down in rating by the very act of playing the game if the score were capped.  Example, when Florida defeated Charleston Southern 62-3 earlier this season, if the margin were capped at 20, then Florida would have been hurt since in a pure points system, they'd be expected to win by more than 20."

Jeff Anderson:  "Any consideration of margin of victory, even with a cap, would encourage teams to be unsportsmanlike and run up the score.  In fact, it would punish teams for doing otherwise.  If margin of victory were capped at 20 points, then a team with a 10-point lead in the final minute, deep in its opponents' territory with the game well in hand, would still be rewarded for managing the clock and setting up a final touchdown pass, pushing the margin to 17, rather than running out the clock and winning by 10.  A cap is also rather arbitrary.  Why is it more of an accomplishment to win two games by 20 than to win one game by 14 and another by 50?  And, of course, it wouldn't reflect the object of the game, which isn't to win by 20, but to win."

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