December Dream: Qualifying for the Final BCS Rankings by John Trombetti
Dec 18, 2009
It seems every year, about this time, there is a lot of discussion concerning the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and its Bowl Championship Series (BCS). The BCS was designed to create a national champion for Division I collegiate football teams. However, one thing that you can say that it does is create controversy. This year is no different, especially since Congress is now weighing in, saying that a "national champion" cannot be determined without a play-off system in Division I (the other divisions in college football have a play-off system to determine their National Champions). In advance of this year's conversation, comes a small book dedicated to the BCS with a possible solution to the issue. December Dream: Qualifying for the Final BCS Rankings (November 2009, Infinity Publishing, www.bbotw.com), by John Trombetti, should soon be available soon from Amazon, is a good review of the BCS and includes his thoughts on crowning a true National Champion, without the controversy.
Contents: Dedication; The Opening Chapter; The Computer Polls; The Human Pollsters; The Start of the Bowl System; Analysis and Discussion; What If; Shall We Have; Appendix I; Appendix II; Appendix III; Appendix IV; Bibliography
Starting the book by providing a historical perspective of the college bowl games and then moving into the polls that make up the BCS gives the reader excellent insight into big time college football and the polls. Trombetti uses this opportunity to illuminate the rise of the bowl games, and the economic impact they have on the cities and sponsors. As more bowl games were added to the end of the season, and the use of human polls, where favoritism and partiality come into play, to determine the national champion, it became clear to the NCAA that another method was needed to decide the best team. However, in the first year of the BCS, 1998, Trombetti points out that there was controversy centering around #3 ranked Kansas State (one loss), which resulted in the "Kansas State Rule" for the BCS, where a #3 team can be invited to play in a BCS Bowl Game. Of course, that is not the only controversy from the BCS and he provides plenty of other examples through the years. Even with these reminders, Trombetti shows his knowledge of the system by providing his thoughts on how the NCAA could have mitigated these problems. As there does not appear to be a play-off system on the horizon, due to the size of the current bowl payouts (in 2008, Trombetti notes that over a quarter BILLION dollars were in play) and the different agendas of the university presidents and coaches, he still provides a rational, and lucrative, play-off system that would yield a more decisive BCS champion.
The early chapters, while providing the foundation for the rest of the book and were necessary, were difficult to read as Trombetti described the peculiarities of each poll that makes up the BCS. However, even for the casual college football fan, he does a good job of illuminating the differences in each poll and they are rather interesting. The book really hits its stride as Trombetti describes the history of each bowl game, the original purpose of each, and the payouts per team. Building upon that, he wastes no time moving into the analysis of the BCS and his well reasoned argument for a play-off system that would benefit more teams, cities, and television networks. While this is a small book (98 pages), he packs a lot of information into it without wasting a lot of time on any one chapter. December Dream could have benefited from a few things; better editing, a more readable format for the BCS Series Standings, and accessible descriptions of the individual polls. Finally, as I read it, I couldn't help thinking it was more a college thesis than an approachable book on the BCS. Trombetti knows his subject matter, that is very clear, however he needed to connect with the reader. December Dream: Qualifying for the Final BCS Rankings is an excellent analysis of the BCS that culminates in arguably the best reasoned approach to a true National Champion. Disclosure: Obtained From: Author Payment: Free