Terrible Ways to Determine a Winner

Monday, January 25th, 2010
  • The Bowl Championship Series (BCS)
    This is a system where undefeated teams frequently don’t get to contend for #1. It’s a system where the top two seeds often face off in the week prior to the start of the actual champion-determining contests, thereby eliminating one of them from contention. It’s terrible. Not everyone is agreed on how a playoff system should work, but approximately no one is happy with the BCS as it stands now.

  • The United States Electoral College
    Under this system, we’ve thrice had a President who didn’t receive a plurality of the votes cast, most recently in 2000. Also, it sounds too much like “electrical college”.

  • NFL Overtime Rules
    From 1974 through 1993, the receiving team went 95-93-13 in the 201 overtime games played1. That means that receiving the ball first resulted in a win a scant 50.5% of the time. That’s nearly dead even, and it seems pretty damned fair.

    In 1994, however, the kickoff was moved from the 35 yard line back to the 30 yard line. The advantage rapidly shifted. From 1994 to 20052, the receiving team went 106-70-3 in 179 games. Receiving the ball first resulted in a win 60.1% of the time. That’s not dead even nor is it fair, to players or fans. While it’s over-simplifying to say that winning the coin toss in overtime means you’ve won the game, it does give a huge leg up, and that’s just stupid.

Of course, it’s easy to criticize the way things are, without coming up with superior alternatives.

Cathartic, too.


Footnotes:

  1. The best source I’ve found for these numbers is Pigskin Revolution. ↩︎

  2. I’m too lazy to compile the numbers for the 2006 through 2009 seasons, but if someone sends them to me, I’ll update this. I don’t believe the percentage will change significantly. ↩︎


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