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The Bowl Championship Series: A Golden Era
Since 1998, when Tennessee beat Florida State in the first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) National Championship game at the Fiesta Bowl, to this season’s VIZIO BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl Stadium, the BCS has transformed college football into a true national treasure; with popularity, attendance, and fan viewership at record levels.
Though, I have always advocated a College Playoff system and crown a true national champion, the BCS series has done a remarkable job getting the top two clubs on the field for the title. College football has flourished on many levels due to the BCS system and has set a valuable blueprint for the new upcoming playoff format that begins next postseason.
The BCS was a significant step forward. It delivered a guaranteed matchup of the top two teams in a true national championship game, replacing a system that left fans wondering who the real champion was. It also brought more access to all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs. It featured some of the finest performances from some of the game’s greatest student-athletes, and preserved America’s bowl tradition for fans and participants alike. As the sun sets on the BCS era, it’s worth remembering all the positive developments that brought college football to where it is today.
The Top Two Teams Played in the National Championship Game – 16 times in 16 years. Since its inception in 1998, the BCS did what it was asked to do – matching college football’s number one and two teams, while preserving the heritage of the bowl system, along with college football’s unique regular season.
BCS Title Game Matchups
1998 (1) Tennessee 23 (2) Florida State 16
1999 (1) Florida State 46 (2) Virginia Tech 29
2000 (1) Oklahoma 13 (2) Florida State 2
2001 (1) Miami 37 (2) Nebraska 14
2002 (1) Miami 24 (2) Ohio State 31 (2 OT)
2003 (1) Oklahoma 14 (2) LSU 21
2004 (1) Southern California 55 (2) Oklahoma 19
2005 (1) Southern California 38 (2) Texas 41
2006 (1) Ohio State 14 (2) Florida 41
2007 (1) Ohio State 24 (2) LSU 38
2008 (1) Oklahoma 14 (2) Florida 24
2009 (1) Alabama 37 (2) Texas 21
2010 (1) Auburn 22 (2) Oregon 19
2011 (1) LSU 0 (2) Alabama 21
2012 (1) Notre Dame 14 (2) Alabama 42
2013 (1) Florida State (2) Auburn
Before the formation of the BCS and its predecessors, the Bowl Coalition and the Bowl Alliance, the Associated Press’s number one and two teams met in bowl games only eight times in 56 seasons.
Regular-Season Attendance Soared Due to the Best Regular Season in Sports. The BCS enhanced the regular season’s significance because every game counted. Interest in college football grew dramatically during the BCS era. As a result, regular-season attendance in the FBS increased from 27.6 million in 1998 to 35.5 million in 2012 (Source: NCAA, 2013 data not yet available).
Television Viewership for the BCS Championship Games is Consistently Strong and Second Only to the Super Bowl in Many Years. The most-watched cable program in history was the BCS National Championship Game of 2011 between Auburn and Oregon, and the second most-watched was the BCS National Championship Game of 2013 between Notre Dame and Alabama. The record TV audience for a BCS National Championship Game still belongs to the 2006 matchup between Texas and USC. The BCS National Championship Game has averaged 26.6 million viewers per game during its 15 years.
About the Bowl Championship Series
The BCS is a five-game arrangement for post-season college football that is managed by the 11 Bowl Subdivision conferences and independent institutions. Its purpose is to match the two top-ranked teams in a national championship game and to create competitive match-ups in the four other BCS bowl games. For more information, visit http://www.bcsfootball.org.
Frank Coyle is a long time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe etc for the past 20 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He does sports radio shows for ESPN, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year round basis related to College Football especially during the postseason team and All-star Bowl time. He has worked for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Yahoo and Rivals sports publications and web sites.