Style Points Are Ruining America

September 27, 2010 – 10:01 pm by McD

All the talk this season related to the BCS is whether or not Boise State is going to make the national championship game. Everyone seems to agree that simply going undefeated isn’t enough anymore (even though BYU won a national title by winning 24 straight games) because the Broncos simply don’t play “good enough” teams on their schedule. They need “style points” in all of their wins.

Hmm, where have I heard this before? Oh, right, “style points” is the new term for “margin of victory,” which the BCS was intentionally created to avoid using to determine who plays for the national title. Not that Wikipedia is the best source ever, but I quote the BCS’ own Wikipedia page:

The BCS continued to purge ranking systems which included margin of victory, causing the removal of the Matthews and Rothman ratings before the 2002 season. Sagarin provided a BCS-specific formula that did not include margin of victory, and the New York Times index returned in a form without margin of victory considerations. In addition, a new computer ranking, the Wesley Colley Matrix, was added.[7] The lowest ranking was dropped and the remaining six averaged.

Post-2003, when the AP poll put USC as their national champion, the BCS formula was tweaked to include a stronger “strength of schedule” rating in the computer polls, and the human polls were given twice as much strength in order to avoid a similar USC/LSU issue in the future.

That change is what is screwing Boise State and TCU today.

Suddenly we have to talk about “style points” as a major reason the BCS shouldn’t give Boise State or TCU equal consideration. USC gave up tons of yards and points to Hawai’i, a non-qualifier, but they would be in the title game chase if they weren’t on probation and went undefeated despite that fact simply because they play in the Pac-10, a BCS member conference.

TCU gave up 24 points and 361 total yards to SMU, a non-qualifier, and their win was considered “weak” because they didn’t destroy SMU in a very contentious rivalry game.

Boise State beat Oregon State, a member of USC’s Pac-1o conference that also beat the Trojans a couple of times in the last few years, but their win was “weak” too on the style points scale.

We are now in a situation that is creating debate about style points and margin of victory when the BCS was formed to avoid exactly that.

¬†Worse, those same terms have become exclusionary. The only reason those are mentioned at all is because the bought-and-paid-for talking heads need a reason to exclude TCU and Boise State in case they go undefeated. No one worries about Alabama’s style points against Arkansas last Saturday. Or that Ohio State’s schedule is a fraud perpetrated on the American people, but it’s accepted because they play in the Big Ten.

The BCS label adds a false legitimacy to teams that play in those conferences, creating the assumption that everyone in the member conferences is better simply because they’re in the BCS. The label itself adds no power whatsoever, but the member conferences are willing to hide behind it and say “that’s the system.”

We all know the BCS was only formed because those six conferences wanted the big slice of bowl revenue pie and wanted to cut out the other guys. Minnesota is no better than the worst team in the Mountain West. They both really, really suck. Ohio State is not better than Boise State simply because they play in the Big Ten. Prove that Boise State couldn’t possibly win the Big Ten as it stands now. Or that TCU simply couldn’t compete on an athletic level with Big XII or SEC teams. It can’t be done.

Don’t believe me? Gene Wojciechowski said the BCS sucks too…in 2006. And he works for ESPN, which is owned by ABC/Disney, which televises the Rose Bowl, a BCS game, every year. P.S. the best part about the Gene Woj… article above is definitely that USC proceeded to lose 13-9 to UCLA that year. I’m sure Booter, our legal adviser, agrees with me.

This talk of “style points” is just more coded language meant to keep the collusive BCS together, despite the fact that it doesn’t do what it promised to do and hasn’t for years.

Some people might not agree with me and believe that the non-BCS teams really are much worse than the BCS ones, meaning Boise State has no business playing for the title. Honestly, that’s fine to believe, but one has to ask why it’s so important to make the distinction between BCS and non-BCS teams. If the current non-BCS teams truly are that bad, then they’ll never make the title game anyway.

This coded language and ridiculous conspiracy to keep the Mountain West, the WAC, the MAC, etc out of the BCS instead of letting them earn their way in or fail their way out is the worst kind of unfair, corrupt system. It’s analogous to the exact same kind of cheating and “fair competition” that screwed the American economy as well.

So yes, keep talking about style points, competition, strength of schedule and the BCS. Keep the system the way it should be so that no one is happy and we have to have segments like this on ESPN’s College Gameday Final. Now I love A Few Good Men as much as any red-blooded American, but this is a little much.

Photo courtesy the Associated Press

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  1. 2 Responses to “Style Points Are Ruining America”

  2. Good editorial. Excellent point about the BCS trying to remove “style points” from the computer system, and now it is invading the human components.

    Wojo is great. I have loved his open disdain for the BCS. The sports writers hold more power than they realize in the BCS debate.

    By Scott on Sep 28, 2010

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