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Updated: December 8th, 2013 5:18pm
P.J.R.: Goodbye, BCS. You didn't deserve all that venom.

P.J.R.: Goodbye, BCS. You didn't deserve all that venom.

by Patrick Reusse
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The Associated Press started a college football poll with sportswriters voting in 1936. Minnesota was selected as its first national champion. The Gophers repeated that in 1940 and 1941, making Bernie Bierman's lads the AP champions in three of the first six years of the formal poll.

United Press International was the rival wire service and started a coaches' poll in 1950.

The final poll for the AP took place after the regular season from 1936 through 1967, with the exception of after the 1965 season. The Gophers benefitted from this in 1960, as they won the poll after an 8-1 regular season, and then lost 17-7 to Washington in the Rose Bowl.

The AP started conducting its final vote after the bowl games with the 1968 regular season.

UPI and the coaches continued to conduct their final vote after the regular season through 1973. Then, UPI champion Alabama lost to Notre Dame 24-23 in the Cotton Bowl, and the coaches went to a post-bowl final vote for the 1974 season.

There were five split championships in the 24 seasons (1950-1973) seasons when at least one wire-service poll was conducted at the end of the regular season:

1954-Ohio State (AP) and UCLA (UPI); 1957-Auburn (AP) and Ohio State (UPI); 1965-Alabama (AP) and Michigan State (UPI); 1970-Nebraska (AP) and Texas (UPI); 1973-Notre Dame (AP) and Alabama (UPI).

The split in 1957 involved Auburn being on probation. Teams on probation were eligible in the AP poll and not in the coaches poll. There was another of those situations in 1974. Oklahoma was on probation and won the AP poll; Southern Cal was the UPI champion.

There was one split champion from 1975 through 1989: 1978-Alabama (AP) and Southern Cal (UPI). And then came back-to-back split champions: 1990-Colorado (AP) and Georgia Tech (coaches), and 1991-Miami (AP) and Washington (coaches).

That's when five conferences and the major bowls - other than the Rose Bowl - decided to try to do something to put the two best teams in the country together in a bowl game. The Rose Bowl and its partners, the Big Ten and the Pac-10, would not move off the New Year's Day tradition of playing in Pasadena.

First, there was the Bowl Coalition from the seasons of 1992 through 1994. It was able to match 1-2 after 1992 (Alabama over Miami) and 1993 (Florida State over Nebraska). In 1994, No. 1 Nebraska beat No. 3 Miami in the Orange Bowl. Penn State, No. 2, was in the Rose Bowl, where it thumped Oregon.

The bowls and conferences tried again with the Bowl Alliance for the seasons from 1995 through 1997. Nebraska pummeled Florida 62-24 in the Fiesta Bowl to be a unanimous No. 1 for the '95 season. Florida beat Florida State in a rematch of the regular season to win it for 1996; and there was a split in 1997, with Nebraska winning the Coalition title, and Michigan winning the Rose Bowl and the AP vote.

The networks and conferences and the other major bowls finally put enough millions in front of the Rose Bowl, the Big Ten and the Pac-10 to get them to join in the Bowl Championship Series.

The BCS has lasted for 16 seasons (1998-2013). Often, it seemed headed for chaos in selecting two teams for a national title game. Almost always, it has lucked out.

That was true again Saturday, when first Auburn made its credentials clear for the title game, and then Ohio State threw up on itself with a fourth-quarter collapse vs. Michigan State.

So, the BCS avoids the spectacle of putting a team from the phony-baloney Big Ten in the title game, and gets the two most-deserving: unbeaten Florida State and Auburn (12-1) going for an eight consecutive championship for the SEC.

As much as we've loved to revile the BCS, there's only been one valid disagreement with the champion crowned:

After 2003, Southern Cal was left out in favor LSU and Oklahoma. LSU won the title game and with it the coaches poll (now run by USA Today). The sportswriters went with Southern Cal as the AP's national champion.

Sixteen years. One split champion. And now the system gets better with a four-team playoff.

Assuming a no-rematch rule in the semis, the selection committee probably would have gone with Auburn vs. Michigan State and Florida State vs. Alabama, if there was a playoff system today.

Baylor would whine, but so what? That four-team playoff would be legitimate.

As a matter of fact, the BCS will have crowned a clear-cut champion 94 percent of the time (15 or 16).

That certainly beats the voting system, which had such embarrassments as crowning BYU as the unanimous champion for 1984, after it beat Michigan - a 6-5, sixth-place team in the Big Ten - by 24-17 in the Holiday Bowl.

Goodbye, BCS. I didn't hate you as much as most.


Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He co-hosts SportsTalk from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and hosts The Ride with Reusse from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. He also co-hosts "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Patrick | @1500ESPN_reusse | The Ride with Reusse