BCS Quest for Clarity Remains Elusive

Another year, another BCS mess. The system that arrived in 1998 and immediately delivered an impossible situation of distinguishing several comparable one-loss teams, will undoubtedly leave us in a similar quandry. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In the case of the BCS, it is broke so get rid of it. Unfortunately, 15 years too late with another championship to decide or…select.

Week 11, with its best-ever Thursday doubleheader, was supposed to have cleared up the chaos and yet, things are just as muddled. Alabama sits in the pole situation by virtue of its name, perception and recent history. Give credit where credit is due- the Tide has met all challengers and rarely been truly challenged. Texas A&M and LSU are the two best teams on the schedule; Ole Miss and Virginia Tech are decent. However, something is seriously wrong when a team is primed to reach the title game without having played a non-conference foe in the Top 25. None of the main contenders have played one another. Beyond that, none of the contenders’ opponents have played one another. True objective comparison is basically impossible, making the BCS all about the eyeball test.

The BCS is also in love with Florida State. Unlike Bama, no one has even made the Seminoles sweat. Clemson appears to be a solid Top Ten team and best FSU win beyond question. Miami’s legitimacy appears to be a mirage after a thumping by Virginia Tech’s followed a series of narrow escapes against the middle of the ACC pack. Basically, Florida State has obliterated a weak conference with little resistance in sight, as only Syracuse, Idaho, the badly bruised and beaten Florida Gators, and a finale masquerading as an ACC Championship Game lie ahead on the ‘Noles’ schedule.

Following a series of exhibitions, the Baylor Bears decided to play a Top 50 opponent and join the serious discussion. Baylor embarrassed Oklahoma 41-12. But how good are the Sooners? Oklahoma got pounded by Texas and beat a mediocre Notre Dame team. That’s basically the Sooners’ resume. Baylor’s season lies ahead with dates with Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, TCU and Texas. All these foes are capable; none are anything close to elite.

Then there are the Buckeyes. Ohio State may eventually claim the distinction of winning 26 consecutive games over the course of two seasons with no national rings to show for it. The Boise States and TCU’s have been snubbed throughout the BCS era. Even Auburn got the slight. But who thought The Ohio State University would get shut out? The Buckeyes can blame themselves for arriving late to the beauty contest after struggling against the likes of Northwestern and Iowa, having no one of note on their non-conference slate, and playing in a league with a serious image problem. Big Ten credibility is at an all-time low, despite overall results that compare with the other BCS leagues. Just look at the rankings: 8-1 Michigan State sits behind a stack of two-loss teams. 8-2 Minnesota is ranked only in the AP Poll. Aside from a phantom loss at Arizona State, Wisconsin’s only blemish is a 7-point loss in Columbus, yet the Badgers rank 17th. Actually, despite the pollsters keeping the Big Ten in check, the Buckeyes biggest gripe is with the conference scheduler. Ohio State does not play MSU or Nebraska. The Spartans and Huskers are not only 17-3, but have won all eight against the Buckeyes’ Big Ten opponents; a serious blow to OSU’s strength of schedule.

Waiting in the wings is a host of one-loss contenders making their claims. For Auburn and Missouri it could be a straightforward argument: How do you leave out the champion of college football’s best conference, especially when that theoretical record would have to include a win over mighty Alabama in the SEC Championship? Stanford’s strength of schedule grows muscle by the week. A Pac 12 Championship Game win over Arizona State or UCLA may be just enough for the Cardinal if the other cards fall in place. And we won’t even address the possible arguments of Michigan State, Oklahoma State, and other one-time losers. The preseason polls deemed them unworthy of consideration before the season even started. If the BCS has established anything, it’s that where you start is almost as important as how you play.

While others scoff, I consider the case for Fresno State and Northern Illinois to be air tight. They’re undefeated. They play FBS football just like everyone else. Technically, they’re on the same level. Don’t get me wrong, in no way do I believe Fresno or NIU can compete with the big boys. The point is that opinion shouldn’t matter. Do they play FBS football? Yes. Should they be treated as equal or at least given a shot? Yes. Otherwise, extricate them to a separate division of play.

Sixteen teams is the way to do it, with an NFL-like schedule formula so teams can truly be compared. Let’s leave that discussion for another time. For now, let’s, uh, enjoy the BCS and let the beauty pageant roll on.


Thanks for Reading.  You can follow me @markrogerstv  fellow LWOS writers @LastwordLindsay, @BrittneeTaylor, @MikeTag98 and @GigemRoss on twitter for your NCAA Football needs, and follow the site @lastwordonsport and like our Facebook Page while you are at it.

Interested in writing for LastWordOnSports?  If so, check out our “Join Our Team” page to find out how.

Football fans…check out our two partnered NFL podcasts – Thursday Night Tailgate Radio and Overtime Ireland.  Both shows bring you interesting commentary, critical analysis and fantastic guests including former and current NFL players, coaches and personalities.