The BCS was implemented in 1998 and has worked to near perfection for 15 seasons.
That’s right, the BCS worked to near perfection. Prior to the construction of the Bowl Championship Series, fans and experts alike were left to argue about multiple unbeatens who played irrelevant bowl games against grandfathered-in bowl opponents.
How quickly we forget that there were three split National Championships between 1990-97 and another year Penn State fans won't ever let anyone forget (1994). How absurd is the idea of a split national title? The BCS featured one such split title since going into effect in ’98 (2003) and has worked to near perfection.
The goal of the BCS was to pit the top two teams in the nation in a winner-take-all championship showdown. And it worked brilliantly when compared to the previous championship structure. Only twice in 15 seasons has a “BCS” conference (or automatic qualifying or Big 6 or power conference or whatever else you want to call it) team gone undefeated and not played for the national championship.
Those two teams were Auburn in 2004 and Cincinnati in '09. And since the Bearcats don’t really apply to this discussion, the '04 Tigers are really the only team with a legitimate gripe about being left out of the title game. Are there plenty of other teams who feel like they deserved a shot? Georgia in 2007? Ohio State in 1998? Texas in 2008? Yes, but had each of those teams not lost certain games, they too, would have played for the national title.
The final debut of the BCS standings is set to take place this weekend following monumental showdowns in Death Valley and Palo Alto. There will be upsets, shockers, butt-whippings and plenty of movement up and down the rankings between now and the final BCS standings in history — which are set to be released Sunday, Dec. 8.
So as the BCS is set to end, here are some historical facts to consider. Who has been ranked the least and the most during the BCS Era? Who has had the longest BCS droughts? And who could break through in the final season of BCS football?
There are some concerning and seriously long BCS droughts currently ongoing. Only three power conference teams have never made an appearance in the BCS at any point during the 15-year run: Vanderbilt, Indiana and Duke. However, other than those three, there are some once proud programs yearning for BCS recognition.
Syracuse has the longest ongoing BCS drought in the automatic qualifying leagues. It hasn’t been ranked since Nov. 12, 2001. Syracuse has a long and storied tradition, as its 699 wins entering this season were the most among current ACC teams and 15th all-time (per NCAA), but it’s been over a decade since the Orange were relevant in college football.
Purdue is No. 2 on the BCS waiting list but hasn’t waited nearly as long. The Boilermakers last made an appearance on Oct. 25, 2004. From 1997-2004, Purdue went to eight straight bowl games. But since its last appearance in the BCS, it has been to just four bowls in nine seasons and is on its third head coach.
Boston College hasn’t been ranked since Nov. 22, 2004. The Eagles have consistently overachieved during the BCS era, however, having gone to a bowl game every year from 1999-2010. But this once proud program has fallen on hard times of late, going 9-21 since — although, Steve Addazio may be the answer.
A pair of Pac-12 programs in Colorado (Nov. 7, 2005) and Washington State (Oct. 29, 2006) round out the top five longest BCS droughts in college football’s major conferences. The Buffaloes won a share of the national championship less than 25 years ago but haven't had a winning season since 2005. Wazzu went to two Rose Bowls between 1997-2002 but haven’t had a winning season since '03. Both have found excellent coaches and both could break through in the near future.
Kentucky (Nov. 11, 2007) has only been ranked four times in the BCS and all four came from the memorable 2007 squad that pulled off the Bluegrass Miracle. The Wildcats have the sixth longest absence.
Virginia and Tennessee are tied, having last appeared in the BCS standings on Dec. 2, 2007. Both programs won at a high level in the '90s but have struggled to win games of late. In particular, the Vols’ absence is notable having won a national championship during the BCS era and ranking eighth all-time with 799 wins (prior to this season). Big Orange Nation is yearning for competitive football.
Minnesota and UConn round out of the top 10 BCS droughts having last appeared on Oct. 26, 2008. The other BCS deficiencies that likely won't come to an end in the system's final season come from North Carolina (14th-longest, Nov. 22, 2009), Cal (16th, Nov. 29, 2009), Pitt (17th, Dec. 6, 2009) and Iowa (21st, Nov. 21, 2010).
Who has a chance to end their drought this season? Maryland owns the 12th longest drought (Nov. 16, 2008) and could break through in the BCS’ final year. Ole Miss is 15th (Nov. 22, 2009) and has an outside chance to land in the rankings at some point this year. BYU is tied with Pitt at 17th (Dec. 6, 2009) and could land in the rankings if Taysom Hill continues to develop.
Miami is the lone top 20 BCS drought that will end on Sunday when the first BCS rankings of the 2013 season come out.
* - Does not include Temple, Memphis, SMU, Houston, UCF