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Article:1998-2007: Ten years of the BCS

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After ten years of the BCS, it seems like now is a good time to look back at what has transpired. This post will be limited to the BCS Bowl data and my observations drawn from the data. When national champions are mentioned, I am only looking at one anointed by the BCS. The AP champion is irrelevant in this study. The BCS bowls are the Orange Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and as of two years ago the BCS National Championship Game.


National Championships by Conference

Every BCS conference has won a National Championship and has played in at least two title games. The most successful conference by far is the SEC. They are 4-0 in championship games and are the only conference with a winning record. The next best conference is the Big XII. They've played in more title games (5) than any other conference and are the only other conference to have won multiple championships (2-3). Of the six BCS conferences, three of them have only had a single representative in the title game: Florida State for the ACC, Ohio State for the Big Ten, and USC for the Pac-10.


National Championships by Team

In the BCS era, only LSU has won more than one championship. Florida State, Ohio State, and Oklahoma have played in the most game with three each and have an identical record of 1-2. There have been nine different champions in ten years, but surprisingly only 11 teams have played in a title game. Perhaps even more surprising is that more teams have played in multiple title games (6), than teams that have only played in one (5). Taking it a step further, that means six programs represent 15 of the 20 teams to play for a championship. Those six programs are the aforementioned LSU, Florida St, Ohio State and Oklahoma joined with Miami and USC. Nebraska and Virginia Tech represent the only two teams who have played for a national championship but haven't won one. The other three teams that won their only appearance are Florida, Tennessee, and Texas.


BCS Bowls by Conference

Over the past decade, the Big Ten has sent 17 teams to BCS bowls, more than any other conference. The SEC is second with 15. In that time span, the ACC and Big East have failed to send an at-large team to a BCS bowl. Notre Dame has gone as an at-large three times, and a non-BCS team has gone three times. The SEC has had the most success with 11 wins and has a record of seven games over .500. The only other conferences with winning records are the Big East, the Pac-10, and the Mountain West who won its only invite in 2004. The worst conference has without a doubt been the ACC. They have only won one game in ten tries. That win was in 1999, meaning they are riding an eight-game losing streak. The WAC won one of its two games. None of the other non-BCS conferences (C-USA, MAC, Sun Belt) have received an invite.


BCS Bowls by Team

Florida State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and USC have played in the most BCS bowl games with six apiece. Not surprisingly, all four have won a national championship. USC has won the most games with five, and LSU has the best record with a 4-0 mark. Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin are the only other teams that have played in multiple games and are undefeated. All three teams are 2-0. Florida State has lost the most games with five, and Oklahoma is second with four. The only teams to go winless in multiple trips are Notre Dame and Virginia Tech with three losses each, and Illinois with two. 40 different teams, or just over a third of all teams, have gone to a BCS bowl. 37 of the 66 current BCS teams, or 56%, have gone to a BCS bowl. With so many different teams getting invites, only 17 of them have gone to more than one.

Not only has the ACC had the worst record in BCS bowl games, they've also had the least amount of parity. Florida State has gone 60% of the time, leaving only three other teams to earn bids. Half of the current Big East and half of the SEC have been invited, while the Big Ten and the Pac-10 have had seven different teams go. The Pac-10 has had the most parity with seven out of the ten teams representing the conference at some point. That stat is even more impressive since USC has been invited six times.


Final Thoughts

I was surprised to learn how diverse the BCS bowl attendees were. I was even more surprised to see how exclusive the National Championship games were. Six schools represent 75% of the teams that have had an opportunity to play for a BCS Championship. Compare that to 40 schools that have filled 84 BCS Bowl spots. The most successful teams over the past decade have been LSU (4-0, two championships), USC (5-1, one championship), Ohio State (4-2, one championship), Florida (3-1, one championship), and Miami (3-1, one championship). Everyone seems to forget that Ohio State won their first four BCS bowls, and instead they focus on just the past two losses in the title games.

I've never heard anybody question the validity of the ACC as an auto-bid league, but seeing that they have only won 10% of their BCS games and never put a second team in the mix, you have to wonder just how deserving they are. On the other hand, the Big East is constantly maligned and questioned as to whether they should have an auto-bid. While they've failed to put a second team in, they do have a 6-4 record and the same record as the ACC and Big Ten in national title games (1-2). Since the ACC invaded the Big East and took its top teams, the Big East has still been competitive and actually is 3-1 in the past four years. Only the SEC has a better record in the period, and the Pac-10 has the same record. The ACC, Big XII, and Big Ten all had worse records. Perhaps it's time to stop all the Big East bashing, because the facts don't support it. It also warrants mentioning that the Mountain West and the WAC have as many wins in BCS games as the ACC does, even though those conferences have only played in one and two games respectively. You may think I'm knocking the ACC, but I don't want to take away their auto-bid. Instead, I want the top non-BCS team to get an auto-bid every season. If history is any indication, the non-BCS teams would be more successful than their ACC counterparts in the future, so why not let them in.


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