BCS: Will the Best Teams Play for a Title?

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GENERIC football helmet BCS bowl championship series
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On Sunday, we'll learn which college football teams will play in the big bowl games - including the national championship. You can expect loud complaints from teams that don't make the cut.

As CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports, the matchups are based on a confusing and controversial system that many say just isn't fair.



College football is the only major sport without a post-season playoff. The national champion isn't decided on the field. Instead, since 1998, college football has relied on a complex ranking system - one-third computer, two-thirds human. This frustrates fans and the likes of former USC head coach Pete Carroll, now in the NFL.

"I've always advocated playoffs," Carroll said. "I've never, ever thought that it should be anything but that."

The result? We're witness to a number of games that reward running up the score, in order to move up the rankings.

Rankings are in the hands of a high-powered group of conference commissioners who run what's called the Bowl Championship Series-- or BCS.

Critics charge the BCS standings protect the top conferences -- and bowls -- at the expense of upstart schools like undefeated TCU, and the University of Utah. Utah's state attorney general is now investigating the BCS for anti-trust violations.

Dan Wetzel, co-author of the new book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," says the BCS "operates like a cartel."

Wetzel argues the NCAA should control its own football destiny - not private entities that pay bowl teams from $600,000 to $18 million each to participate.

"This is the most important, valuable and profitable product that college athletics has," Wetzel said. "And they're not running it. It makes no sense."

In the last 12 years, only four schools outside the top BCS conferences (the Big 10, PAC-10, Southeastern Conference, Big-12, Atlantic Coast Conference, and Big East) have played in the richest BCS bowls (Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl and Fiesta Bowl) - and never for a national title.

That, Wetzel says, is just part of the problem. "You have had bowl directors make $600,000 in one year running a single football game. Being in the bowl business is a good business to be in."

In a statement Friday, the head of the BCS said "we...strongly defend..." the BCS as "the best way to determine a national champion." Adding, coaches and student-athletes "overwhelmingly favor the traditional bowl system..."

"It's a celebration for the players," said Scott Ramsey, president of Music City Bowl. "Many of the players won't go on to play in the NFL. It's a celebration for the fans."

Yet, just this week third-ranked TCU announced a "celebrated" move to a BCS conference - The Big East- beginning in 2012. That's another sign that when it comes to college football you not only have to beat 'em - but join 'em as well.