In B.C.S., Dollars Are the Only Relevant Numbers

Apart from the few universities that enjoy the guaranteed big payouts, it is almost impossible to find anyone who is completely satisfied with the Bowl Championship Series — and not much easier to find anyone who even understands how it works.

Statistically, the system is such an abomination that at least one expert — Hal S. Stern, a professor of statistics at the University of California, Irvine — advocated that no self-respecting statistician should have anything to do with it. In an article published in The Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports two years ago, he wrote that the B.C.S. computer rankings serve as little more than a confirmation of the results of the two opinion polls the system also uses to create its rankings. The people who run the computer rankings, he noted, have never been given any clear objective criteria to design their programs, and they are not allowed to use the score or site of a game in their calculations. Stern urged a boycott, a refusal by the community of statisticians to lend credibility to a system he regards as scientifically bankrupt.