In a research article titled, "The Perils of Realignment and a Final Look at the "Fairness" of the BCS System: Would TCU fans rather play for "Major Bowls" or be an average Big Twelve Team?", Emory Business School took a look at the old BCS Bowl system and the automatic qualifier system to ask one central question: Would a school like TCU have a better or worse chance of making a BCS bowl in a AQ league, or in a non-AQ league?
Their research is quite interesting, and is worth a read, but the following pulls and synopsis was quite interesting:
The model reveals that selection to play in a "major bowl" is more likely for teams that spend more, have higher attendance and have participated in more bowls in past seasons. The most dramatic finding from the analysis is the significance and direction of the AQ term. We find that when we control for the other team characteristics, that AQ conference membership reduces teams' post season opportunities. The model's implications are best illustrated graphically. The figure below shows the relationship between expenditures and major bowl participation for an artificial AQ and Non-AQ school. The figures are for a school that has participated in 12 minor bowls, 4 major bowls, has won a single national championship and has average attendance of 60,000. The vertical axis is the probability of a team being selected for a BCS bowl and the horizontal axis is the team's football expenditures relative to the average expenditures of FBS teams.
For the Non-AQ school, the probability of achieving a major bowl is given for expenditure levels ranging from 50% to 150% of the overall FBS. For the AQ schools, we plot the probabilities for expenditures ranging from 100% of the average to 250%. When expenditures are controlled for, the probability of playing in a major bowl is significantly greater for Non-AQ schools. At a spending level equal to the overall FBS average, the model predicts the Non-AQ school has a 14.4% chance at a major bowl, versus just 5% for the AQ school. When a non-AQ spends 150% (think TCU) of the average the probability of a major bowl is about 27%. For the AQ school this level of spending yields a probability of just 12%.
I had always wondered if this was the case when TCU was trying to get into the Big East... Of course, you can argue the financial outlook of these leagues, minus the BCS, is worth moving out of a non-AQ conference just by itself, but if you look at just the macro argument of making it to a BCS bowl vs. not, it is hard to argue with the evidence. Of course, now we have a playoff system, and everything changes.
Go read the piece, and tell us what you think... If we still had a BCS system, would TCU be less likely to make a bowl than if they were in the MWC?