For the record let it be known that the TCU Horned Frogs (from the Mountain West Conference and ranked #3 in the NCAAF rankings) defeated the Wisconsin Badgers (from the Big 10 Conference and ranked #4) 21-19 to take out the prestigious Rose Bowl. Also for the record, TCU had a perfect season and finished with a 13-0 win loss record.
Only the vagaries of the NCAA/BCS (Bowl Championship Series) system could allow an undefeated team to not play for the #1 spot. Currently there are three undefeated teams in NCAAF play. Auburn, Oregon and TCU. Auburn and Oregon play off for number one spot on the 10 January 2011 in the ‘so called’ BCS Championship game.
My question to both the NCAA and the BCS is “How can the winner of that game possibly be crowned number one?”. If nothing else, at least the game will eliminate one of those teams from contention as one will suffer defeat and that will leave only two teams with perfect records. No amount of computer or human prediction will ever be able to tell us whether the TCU Horned Frogs could beat the other undefeated team.
Countless people, including President Obama have called for urgent change to the BCS system…and with good cause. The BCS is the equivalent of an exclusive club – in this case six BCS conferences who are guaranteed automatic berths to the big money Bowl games. These six BCS conferences are supposedly ‘stronger’ than the other conferences and therefore somehow have a greater entitlement. Let me say that in my years following NCAAF, that assessment can only possibly have been made on an historical basis. Clearly, that is not the case today.
Let’s for a moment take a look at the BCS Conference Wisconsin hails from – the Big 10. In Bowl games yesterday that Conference went 0-5 – a big duck egg!! If we now take the time to also review the Mountain West Conference, they are 4-1 in Bowl games this year, the fourth consecutive year they have sent five football teams to bowl games, posting the best win percentage among the eleven FBS conferences for the fourth time in seven years. The MWC will also claim the 2010-11 Bowl Challenge Cup, becoming the only Conference to win the trophy four times since the award’s inception in 2002-03.
So you tell me…on those figures alone, are the Big 10 stronger than the MWC? The answer is a resounding “No”! Do the Big 10 deserve preferred treatment over the MWC? The answer is also a resounding “No”!
As I see it there is only one solution to this impasse. Change the system! Bring in a playoff system between the top ten ranked teams. This could be done within the current Bowl calendar. It would also mean that many of those Bowl games would gain some relevance rather than be as they are now, a match between Colleges who managed to scrape together a .500 season. Hardly riveting, prime time viewing!
Fairness demands that parochial vested interests be set aside for a fairer system. Will it happen? Not unless the sporting public brings pressure to bear on the people controlling the system. Aside from the vested interests of the BCS conferences maintaining the status quo and hanging on to the big money Bowl games, perhaps more worrying to those Conferences is the spectre of being required to regularly compete against MWC colleges in the big games!
I am certainly looking forward to discussing this topic with our US correspondent, Dan Butterly, when Sportzfan Radio resumes on 16 January 2011. Our show won’t rest until the system is changed for the better!