It’s hard to ‘Bear’ with the BCS
December 9, 2004
Just like every year, college football’s final Bowl Championship Series poll upset players and fans in every way possible.
The most obvious flaw in the system was the exclusion of undefeated Auburn from the national championship picture. Auburn swept through the perennially powerful Southeastern Conference, but sadly only two teams are allowed to play for the title in the stupid BCS. Oklahoma and Southern California got in the Jan. 4 Orange Bowl, while Auburn ended up being the odd team out.
Making the best of the crappy system, though, it appears that the most deserving two teams were invited. Auburn’s incredibly weak non-conference schedule of Louisiana Tech Louisiana-Monroe and the Citadel killed the Tigers’ chances in the computers, whose results make up one-third of the BCS.
However, if there was no such thing as the BCS, and like in the good old days college football used only the Associated Press and coaches’ polls to determine who is No. 1 and No. 2, Oklahoma and USC would have been the teams chosen for a national championship game. So, the controversial BCS came up with absolutely nothing different than the top of the human polls, leaving the suspicious system serving no purpose to players and fans in this case. If it had come up with a different team, it would have only produced more controversy, like last year when USC finished first in both human polls yet was left out of the BCS championship game. Clearly, this is a system not invented to crown a true national champion; it is a system created solely to make its inventors a ton of money.
Another strange occurrence was the dropping of California from No. 4 to No. 5 in the final BCS poll. Saturday Cal won 26-16 at bowl-bound Southern Mississippi and could easily have added to its lead late in that game. California played just fine, but somehow a number of poll voters were persuaded to move Texas ahead of Cal anyway, leaving Cal out of a big BCS bowl.
One AP voter moved Texas from eighth to fifth, saying he “just wanted to get it right this time.” The question is, what the hell was he thinking about for the last 12 weeks? What could have possibly changed his mind so drastically and so quickly?
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In the previous coaches’ poll, California was no lower than sixth on any of the ballots. But in their final poll, four coaches moved Cal down to No. 7, and two dropped the Golden Bears to No. 8. The country can blame Texas head coach Mack Brown (who would be better served pursuing a career in politics) who begged, whined and lobbied his university into a BCS bowl. With coaches’ names and ballots not being attached and disclosed to the public, unfortunately players, fans and the University of California will never really know exactly what happened there.
Still, Cal finished ahead of the Big 12 Conference’s Texas in both human polls, so ultimately it was the computers that decided their fate (although BCS officials supposedly tweaked the system so that the computers wouldn’t make a difference this time.) But comparing Jeff Sagarin’s computer poll in the USA Today which lists California third and Texas sixth, to the Nevada Appeal’s Sagarin listing of Texas fourth and California fifth, there is an obvious discrepancy. Could there be some kind of conspiracy going on behind the scenes? With Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg acting as BCS coordinator, it would come as no surprise.
So now Texas and the Big 12 get more money, while everyone else gets hosed. No one wanted to see Texas in the Rose Bowl, where a traditional Pac 10-Big 10 meeting of California-Michigan would have been perfect. A Sugar Bowl involving undefeateds Auburn and Utah didn’t materialize either, probably because BCS officials couldn’t stomach the thought of a “mid-major” Utah team possibly beating one of their mighty undefeated BCS conference champions like Auburn.
What we’re left with instead is Texas vs. Michigan, Utah vs. Pittsburgh and Auburn vs. Virginia Tech. Those are terrible match-ups for us fans, but just dandy ones for the six major BCS conference heads. Only the Oklahoma-USC game is interesting now. Thanks BCS for once again ruining the bowl season and not having some sort of playoff.
• Heisman Trophy – This year’s balloting for college football’s most valuable player should be close. Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson gets my vote, but he probably won’t win because he is only a freshman. Looking at the statistics, which show Oklahoma quarterback Jason White with 33 touchdowns and six interceptions, and USC QB Matt Leinart with 28 TDs and six interceptions, White deserves to get the nod over Leinart. But White won the award last year, and a repeat Heisman winner has occurred only once. USC tailback Reggie Bush is the flashiest of the contenders, but a majority of his yards came on special teams plays. Utah quarterback Alex Smith passed for 28 touchdowns and ran for 10 with only four interceptions, but coming from the Mountain West Conference he has no shot. Incidentally, White, who owns a vote for being a past winner, has stated that he is voting for Peterson over himself.
Prediction: 1. Leinart, 2. White, 3. Peterson
• College football’s Divison 1 postseason kicks off Tuesday with the New Orleans Bowl. The pick here is to take Southern Mississippi -5 over North Texas.
Joe Ellison is the Nevada Appeal Betting Columnist. Contact him at email@example.com.