BCS Rankings

The BCS (Bowl Championship Series) rankings are a combination of polls and computer rankings used to rank the top twenty-five college football teams. Unlike other polls, the BCS rankings have implications since they determine who will play in the National Championship Game and other BCS bowl games. The rankings are determined by averaging the coaches’ poll, the Harris Interactive poll, and six computer rankings. The system places more importance in the polls by giving them twice as much weight as the computerized rankings, however this was not always the case. The BCS Rankings previously included the AP Poll, however some of the press felt that the system was flawed and no longer wanted to be associated with the BCS. These rankings were supposed to be flawless way to choose the top two teams to play for the national championship, but after more than a decade it is obvious that the polls alone are not enough to crown a clear winner. Therefore, in 2014 the polls will be used to choose the top four teams to play in a small tournament. This compensates for some of the poll’s errors and will hopefully help to definitively crown a champion.

AP Poll

The Associated Press poll ranks the top twenty-five college football teams. The ranking are released prior to each season and weekly during the football season along with a final poll after the bowl games have concluded. The poll is created by surveying the sport’s media and averaging the responses into one ranking system. Voters give twenty-five points to the team they feel is the best, twenty-four to the second place team, all the way down to the twenty-fifth ranked team who receives one point. This particular poll is generally accepted as a reliable ranking system even though it has some flaws. Since sports writers are generally stationed in large cities or near popular teams, certain areas may be overrepresented while other may lack representation. The media ballots that make up the poll are released to the public in an effort to reduce any bias a writer may have and keep the poll fair to all teams.

Coaches Poll

The Coaches poll is very similar to the AP poll except that instead of being put out by the media, college coaches are the ones voting. Not every coach is allowed to vote in the poll. Instead, only fifty-nine of the FBS division one coaches vote to create the rankings. Unlike the AP Poll, the individual ballots of the voters are not made public. Therefore coaches cannot be scrutinized for favoritism towards that coach’s own team or conference. Also different from the AP Poll, teams that are on probation do not show up in the Coaches Poll. This poll has earned media criticism than its counterpart. Some people feel that many coaches are too busy with their own teams to closely follow other teams and fill out the ballots accurately themselves. While these two main polls are determined differently, they are usually in sync with each other for the most part. Unfortunately these polls do not always agree and as a result sometimes have different national champions. Eleven times the two polls do not agree on the champion, often resulting in much controversy.

Harris Interactive College Football Poll

Commonly referred to as the “Harris Poll”, these rankings are another part of the BCS rankings. An independent Internet research company called Harris Interactive develops this poll. The one hundred and fifteen voters are made up of former players, coaches, and administrators, along with both current and former media. Each person is scientifically selected in order to correctly represent each conference and region. The poll was created in 2005 to replace the AP Poll as part of the BCS selection.