Sunday, December 03, 2006

An autopsy of the BCS selection process, in case you wondered why teams ended up in specific places.

The BCS bowls have some automatic ties:
The Tournament of Roses has the champs from the Big 10 and Pac 10. (Ohio State and USC)
The Fiesta Bowl has the Big XII champ. (Oklahoma)
The Sugar Bowl has the SEC champ. (Florida)
The Orange Bowl has the ACC champ. (Wake Forest)
The Big East champ does an automatic bid, but not assigned to a specific bowl. (Louisville)

Michigan and LSU finished high enough this year that they automatically qualified, and Boise State finished high enough as an outside conference champion to also earn a bid.

That left one open spot. Other Big 10 and SEC teams were disqualified because there were already two teams from their conference. Only at-larges in the top 14 are eligible, so either #11 Notre Dame or #13 West Virginia could be invited to fill the final spot, but choosing one would eliminate the other from the selection pool.

The bowls that have their linked conference champions taken for the Championship pick first, so the Rose Bowl (since Ohio State is #1) could pick Michigan, LSU, Louisville, Boise State, Notre Dame, or West Virginia. They picked Michigan to replace OSU, which set their match-up as USC-Michigan, a traditional matchup for a game built on tradition. The Sugar could pick from next to replace Florida. They chose LSU, since LSU is nearby and would be a great storyline.

The bowls with open spots rotate selection order each year. This year, the Sugar Bowl picked first. The choices now were Louisville, Boise State, Notre Dame, and West Virginia. They chose Notre Dame, because even though LSU will probably cream them, because Notre Dame draws well on TV. (Thus, West Virginia is out of luck.)

The Orange Bowl had the next pick, and could select either Boise State or Louisville to play Wake Forest. Quite reasonably, they believed Louisville would draw better in Florida than Boise State would. This meant the Fiesta Bowl was required to take Boise State.

In summary,
Championship: Ohio State vs. Florida
Rose: USC vs. Michigan
Fiesta: Oklahoma vs. Boise State
Sugar: LSU vs. Notre Dame
Orange: Wake Forest vs. Louisville


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