The nicest thing you could say about the BCS era, is that it was better than not having any postseason football.1976
From the beginning, everyone knew what the fatal flaw was, there were 16 spots for 40+ conference champions.
The 4 classes were sorted by the average enrollment within the conference, not the individual school. At the start of the season everyone knew what class they would be in, should they qualify. To qualify there was a highly convoluted scoring system.
- 100 points for every win
- 10 points every time a team you beat wins a game
- Total points are then divided by the number of games you played
It becomes confusing because: not every game was an official "qualifying game". Non-conference games outside of your class, as well as games against WISSA, did not count. Add into this that the regular season back then was ten weeks, season lengths for each school varied between 6-10 games.
These quirks allowed Menomonee Falls East to win the first ever Class A title, despite an 8-2 record.1977
Minor adjustments were made to the point formula to address what constituted a qualifying game. When the regular season ended the Class AA rankings were: 1. Madison West 2. Madison East. When dozens of conference champs are sitting at home, having two Big 8 teams qualify was not a good look. (the rankings did not = seeds for some reason as West/East met in the semifinal. West would win the AA Title)
The 2nd year would be the final for this era of the BCS; much like the 2011 LSU/Bama saga. 1978
Only conference champions are eligible, only 1 school per league (tie-breakers used if needed). Classes are replaced with divisions, a fifth division is added. But there will still be dozens of champs left out.
The points formula has also been retired. A new, equally bad, system has replaced it. The criteria in order:
- your record
- cumulative record of your opponents
The glaring issue with this system was that a 1 loss team that played a brutal schedule would automatically be behind all undefeated teams... This was especially an issue in D5 where every year would have 10+ undefeated teams.1979
No major changes.1980
Division 5 doubled to 8 teams. That did not help 12th ranked Cashton: 8-0 zero points allowed, or 11th ranked Belleville: 9-0 seven points allowed. In D4 where still only 4 teams qualified; 5th ranked River Valley went 8-1, a 3-0 non-conference loss to the Dells to open the season were the only points they allowed.
Prior to the season, the WIAA had already approved the plan that qualified ALL conference champs... set to begin in 1981.
The BCS era ended in 1981, a sixth division was created and all conference champs qualified. HOWEVER, a substantial issue remained. The old formula used to determine division cut-lines based on conference average from '76 was still used. Teams knew in August what division they were in. In an era of unbalanced enrollments, no team benefited from this loophole more than Two Rivers. They won three straight D3 titles from 80-82, routinely facing teams sometimes half their enrollment in the playoffs. Teams would not be sorted by individual enrollment (like today) until the mid-80s.
Keep in mind that all this time, the regular season was still ten weeks. I wonder if anyone realized that scaling back to 8-9 weeks would have allowed all conference champs to play?
The creation of the BCS in 1976 also mean't the death of the AP & UPI media rankings. Despite the BCS dying after 1980, these fun snapshots would not return until the AP was reborn in 1998.
With enrollment-based re-alignment coming next year, (first proposed in 1983) I would support going back to the system where your division was already known in August. Perhaps the 2019 Catholic Memorial death train will make people leery of future drop-drowns.
The current playoff structure suffers from bloating/mediocrity. (contract D7 !) But, having too many playoff teams is better than the above.