Less than 48 hours stand between now and the release of the first College Football Playoff selection committee top 25 rankings for the 2015 season. In less than two days we will find out how the dozen selectors rate the contenders (and who they envision as pretenders) after the first nine weeks of play. What we will never have, though, is a means of projecting how the field will look based on anything remotely resembling quantitative data.
Therein was the essential beauty of the Bowl Championship Series. Love it or hate it, the BCS unequivocally provided a means by which fans could transparently see which teams were going to factor into the national championship picture. And when wild swings occurred, it was either the result of a resounding defeat or the whims of human voters rather than the quantitative element of the system.
To honor that history, but mainly out of a sense of curiosity, I started calculating how this year’s crop of teams would stack up by the BCS calculations a couple of weeks ago. Other than the demise of the Harris Poll, which was created to replace the AP Poll in the formula in 2005 and was dissolved after the BCS was superseded by the CFP, all of the other elements are still in place. All six computer polls still put out weekly numbers. The coaches poll is still churning out its weekly rankings. And the AP Poll, for our purposes, is almost a better option than the Harris Poll ever was to serve as the second human leg of the tripod that comprises BCS scoring.
The BCS is gone with the advent of the playoff field, but it is hardly forgotten. Calculating out how the teams would rate based on the old formula provides a nice counterbalance to weigh our proprietary Pigskin Rating System against here at Sports Unbiased, and it also allows us to better appreciate the increased mid-major access available to Group of Five schools in the current system. Most importantly, though, it continues a tradition of providing a concrete thing to argue about that has been sorely missing with the CFP selection committee’s inevitably subjective viewpoint taking away any semblance of pseudo-science from the situation.
Using the BCS formula to project the new playoff field, we’d see the same field materialize as last week, with Ohio State taking on TCU and LSU facing Clemson in the two semifinal matchups. Michigan State and Baylor are still sitting on the cusp, ostensibly defeated for their respective conference championships. It’d be a hard quartet to argue against, at least given what we know so far about the season…
… but of course it isn’t used anymore, the three-part formula replaced with a dozen selectors sitting in a room arguing merits of each team. So here’s what the BCS rankings would look like for Week 9 of the 2015 season… use them for what they’re worth, which is jack squat in today’s playoff landscape other than a fun thought exercise and a great basis for arguments.