Controversial Since Day 1, Bowl Championship Series To End

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Who's the best team in college football? That's a good way to start a fight.

The Bowl Championship Series established in 1998 was intended to, if not settle the debate, at least civilize it. The BCS used a complex formula involving computer tracking and human polls to determine the teams that play in the five bowl games. And the BCS has been controversial since day one. But change has come to the NCAA.

Monday's national championship between Florida State and Auburn University will mark the end of the BCS, making way for a new playoff system next year.

Dennis Dodd from CBS Sports says the much maligned BCS started off with the right intentions.

DENNIS DODD: At the time, it's what the public demanded. They wanted to see a one and two game. The bowls over the years have been a mishmash of backroom deals, regional games that didn't pit the best teams at the end of the season against each other. And what the public failed to realize - and I think the stakeholders all along knew - that it was an evolution. It got us closer maybe to a true national championship, but it had its bumps along the way.

RATH: So it was supposed to, you know, if not eliminate debates, at least reduce some of the rancor in terms of the championships and the rankings. But almost right away, people were complaining. What went wrong?

DODD: Well, unintended consequences. In 2001, Nebraska got to the championship game without so much it's winning its division in the Big 12. In 2003, Oklahoma lost its conference championship game by four touchdowns and remained number one in the BCS and played for a national championship. You know, there were others. There were other, quote, unquote, "injustices." So I think all that helped chip away at the credibility of it.

And eventually when things did change, the commissioners who run this, it was the public outcry that did it. It was a very grassroots foundational thing that got the change going.

RATH: Can you explain the new plan?

DODD: It's a lot easier. We're going to have, going forward in 2014, a 14 playoff, two semifinals, a championship game. It will be arranged literally by a human committee, very subjective. And the committee will decide which team goes in every year.

RATH: So, you know, fans will always find some reason for discontent, but I have to say, though, from a fan's perspective, a casual perspective, it seems like there's already a lot to be suspicious of, starting off with this committee, these 13 individuals. It feels, you know, like a secret star chamber or something.

DODD: It's hard to criticize them right now. It's very credible. When Condoleezza Rice is on the committee, that's a pretty good committee. And there were immediate outcries about her experience in football. Well, actually, she's got quite a bit. I mean, she oversaw the football team when she was a provost at Stanford. She's a big fan obviously.

Tom Osborne, Archie Manning, you know, the patriarch of the Manning family who's head of the National Football Foundation. Steve Wieberg, who for 30 years was - covered college sports at USA Today, is the media member on there. So it's very diverse. It's very credible. But, you're right, they're going to have some hard decisions.

RATH: Dennis Dodd is senior college football columnist for Dennis, thank you.

DODD: All right. Thanks so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.