AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. Top ranked Florida State and number two Auburn are playing for the championship of college football tonight. The BCS title game in Pasadena, California, marks the end of the 16 year run for the bowl championship series and very few people are sad to see it go. The BCS has been the punching bag of both fans and the media practically since the day it started back in 1998. NPR's Tom Goldman is in Southern California for this farewell BCS moment.
And Tom, why do people hate this process so much?
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Well, it's sports. You have to hate something, Robert. No, but specifically, we have hated the BCS because the two teams in the championship were slotted into the game using computer rankings in polls and you had a championship that wasn't being decided on the field, as they say, a playoff, you know, where a bunch of teams get together, play over a period of time and the last one standing has earned the championship.
Nearly every sport in elite college competition uses a playoff. College football, at the highest level hasn't. Now, that'll change next season with a four-team playoff format.
SIEGEL: Yes. We finally get a playoff. And the four teams will be chosen by a 13-member committee, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Will this system be any better than the old one?
GOLDMAN: Well, you know, for the mere fact that you've got a playoff, yes. With only four teams, you're probably going to get the four power teams, the usual suspects. So you won't see the real fun of a playoff, you know, an outsider making an exciting run to the title until the playoff is expanded to eight, maybe even 16 teams, which some say is inevitable.
Is the selection process better? Maybe not. Over the years, the BCS has been excoriated for using computers and polls and taking out the human element. An article in today's Pittsburgh Post Gazette points out that's interesting because in recent years, computers and analytics have become the rage in sports, think "Moneyball," think Nate Silver who's now taking his political forecasting skills into the sports world with his analytics-driven website.
It can be argued that having computers takes out factors like bias and politics so, you know, maybe we'll have to rethink this whole computers are evil attitude as it applies to college football.
SIEGEL: Well, there's a game going on tonight. What should we expect?
GOLDMAN: You know, I think it's safe to say there will be a lot of points on the board. Both teams are powerful offensively. Florida State is favored. The Seminoles are undefeated this season. They beat every opponent except one by at least 27 points. Their quarterback, freshman Jameis Winston, was winner of this year's Heisman trophy.
Auburn only lost one game and the Tigers are your so-called team of destiny after miracle last second victories in two late season games versus Georgia and then Alabama. They have the best running attack in the country. I think it'll most likely come down to which defense can hold at key times. Florida State topped the nation in fewest points allowed, averaged a little over 10 per game. Auburn, not as good statistically on defense, but they stopped opponents when they had to.
SIEGEL: Okay. Thank you, Tom.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome.
SIEGEL: That's NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman.
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