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Monday, December 08, 2003

BCS Stands For...

Man, what an easy acronym to ridicule.
Bull**** Computer Standings.
Bogus Calculation System.
Bonehead Comparison Statistic.

I could go on....except, well, since you've got three teams with comprable claims of legitimacy, no matter what the BCS came up with, somebody could write something taking them to task.

Leave out Oklahoma? The team that blasted its way through the toughest conference in football, rolling over the likes of Texas, Missouri, and Oklahoma State? Because of one fluke loss to a tough Kansas State team? Why should the timing of the loss matter so much that you throw their accomplishments away?
Especially considering it was K-State and not an also-ran like, say, California?

Leave out LSU? The hottest team in the nation? A team whose only loss was way back in early October, to Florida, a loss that doesn't look half as bad in hindsight as it did at the time, given what the Gators did this season? They beat Ole Miss and beat Georgia twice, the second time convincingly. No one beat them 35-7, and no .500 beat them either.

Leave out Southern Cal? Number 1 in both polls, and arguably even hotter than LSU? A team whose only loss all season came in triple overtime, way back in September? The Pac-10 (and Notre Dame) had a down year, but apart from one mistake, dominated everyone they played, including Washington State.

There's no really good answer here. (And Michigan have to be kicking themselves - winning either the Oregon game or the Iowa game would give them at least as strong a case as any of the above for the national title.)

But I come down on the side that says the computers made the wrong call. I say Oklahoma played their way out of the title game Saturday night.

In a development that is sure to shock everyone who knows both of us, Matt doesn't agree with me.

First off, Oklahoma didn't win their conference. When the universe of contenders is this small, that's a hard fact to overlook.

But, in light of what the Sooners have accomplished this year, as compared to the somewhat lighter loads borne by the Tigers and Trojans this season, I'd even be willing to look past that. Except that not only did Oklahoma not win the game, but they got spanked, 35-7. Neither USC nor LSU took this kind of beating from any team at any point in the season.

When you're talking about which losses should matter the most, you have to give at least a little weight to having the conference final count more. I understand what Matt is saying - it's easy to overvalue later games, and this might encourage unwelcome scheduling changes - but is too much to ask of a top-ranked team to at least put up a respectable showing in a final game, if we're talking about more than two one-loss teams?

If this loss were, say, 24-21, it'd be a different story. You'd have to consider it the least damaging loss regardless of when it occured, because it would have been a close loss to a high-ranked team. Then I'd feel fine about keeping USC out based on losing to the weakest opponent.

But it looks like we may be heading for a disputed national title again. Not that this bugs me that much.

The current half-assed methodology is a bit silly. Either we should go back to the old system, where people argued about national champs endlessly on bleak January nights anyway, or they should do what Division 1-AA has been doing for a while now, go whole hog and play a 4-team or 8-team tournament in December and/or January. I'm sure there's a way to work something like this into the bowl game system.


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