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20 Nov 2006

Confessions of a Football Junkie: Rematch, Anyone?

by Russell Levine

Let the debate begin.

It's entirely possible that Ohio State's 42-39 win over Michigan Saturday decided absolutely nothing between these two bitter rivals. Not when the teams remain on track to meet again in seven weeks in the January 8 Bowl Championship Series title game in Glendale, Arizona.

Welcome to college football in the BCS era, where a loss is not always a loss (have to check with the computers first). When the new BCS standings were disclosed Sunday afternoon, they looked exactly as they had before Saturday's game. Ohio State is No. 1, with the Wolverines still No. 2, making the much talked-about rematch a distinct possibility. In fact, the top five spots were unchanged.

College football is stuck between its tradition-rich past and the modern forces -- money, TV, TV money -- that want to drag it into a future that resembles every other sport. The BCS is a tenuous compromise between the two. It has scrapped certain traditions, such as rankings-be-damned conference bowl tie-ins, to create a championship game, yet still falls short of an outright playoff.

The system is far from perfect. Since the BCS isn't a playoff, it will never be able to definitively determine a champion. College football diehards seem to accept this. Many don't want their sport turned into a copycat version of the NFL, yet they get caught up in the BCS arguments that spring up every year.

Two weeks before it determines its championship matchup, the BCS is headed for perhaps its most controversial year ever. The only thing that is certain is that 12-0 Ohio State, which finished its wire-to-wire run atop the polls and claimed the outright Big Ten championship, as well as its fifth win in six tries against the Wolverines, will play in the title game.

With Rutgers' loss to Cincinnati spoiling the Scarlet Knights' Cinderella season and with undefeated Boise State not in contention for the title game due to its small-conference status, the list of contenders for the second spot in the championship game has been realistically trimmed to five: Notre Dame, Arkansas or Florida from the SEC, USC, and Michigan. The three one-loss teams from the Big East, Rutgers, Louisville, and West Virginia, have fallen too far back to compensate for the perceived weakness of the conference.

If ranked in descending order of their chances to reach the title game, that list might look like this: Michigan, USC, Arkansas/Florida, Notre Dame. The voters in the two human polls dropped Michigan just one spot, to third, behind USC. But Michigan is No. 2 in five of the six computer rankings (USC is second in the other), which was enough to keep Michigan second overall.

One wonders how the standings might look had the Wolverines not scored a late touchdown to trim the final margin against Ohio State to three points. In a game overshadowed by the untimely death of legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler on Friday, the Wolverines were mostly outplayed and had few answers for incomparable Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith, who surely sewed up the Heisman Trophy by throwing for 316 yards and four touchdowns against Michigan's third-ranked defense.

Seemingly out of the contest at halftime, the Wolverines summoned the resolve to make a game of it in the second half and might have pulled off the comeback if not for an untimely penalty. A roughing-the-passer call against Michigan's Shawn Crable extended the final Ohio State touchdown drive after the Wolverines appeared to have stopped the Buckeyes on third-and-15. Any pivotal call in a game of this magnitude is bound to be controversial, but replays proved this one correct. Crable arrived a half-beat late and made helmet-to-helmet contact with Smith, drawing the appropriate flag.

Still, even had Michigan held there -- when they trailed 35-31 -- you got the feeling that Smith and the Ohio State offense would have found whatever answers they needed to extend their recent dominance in the series.

Few would have predicted such offensive fireworks in a series that has for decades been ruled by defense. But the wild nature of the contest, which resembled last year's epic Texas-USC Rose Bowl, may help create the rematch. It's doubtful that a staid Ohio State win, say by a 17-13 count, would have left anyone clamoring for Round 2. Instead, the teams produced the type of game that is likely being discussed at water coolers around the nation this morning.

Next week's visit by Notre Dame to USC now becomes the most important game remaining this regular season. USC's margin behind Michigan for the coveted second spot in the BCS is razor-thin, and the Trojans will get a boost in the computers should they beat the Irish. But it may not be enough for USC to just win. The Trojans may need to post a rout, lest their result suffer in comparison to Michigan's 47-21 win in South Bend in September.

No. 5 Notre Dame's players, coaches, and fans believe the Irish are also in the title-game picture, but their best argument seems to be "we are Notre Dame." Win at USC, and they finish with the same record has Michigan, to whom they lost by four touchdowns at home. Even the voters who put West Virginia ahead of Louisville 10 days after Louisville beat the Mountaineers remembered that result. Michigan remains ahead of Notre Dame in both polls.

The SEC, which is probably the strongest overall conference, will have a tough time getting its champion to the title game. Should Arkansas beat Florida in the SEC championship (presuming they get by LSU this Saturday), the Razorbacks won't have any chance to get to Glendale unless USC also loses. The Trojans crushed Arkansas, 50-14, in the season-opener. And even if USC does fall, Arkansas would be third in line behind Michigan and Notre Dame. Florida has a better chance but is hurt by a lack of a compelling non-conference win -- the Gators won't get a boost from their annual grudge match against 6-5 Florida State next week -- and a series of recent ragged victories.

In football-mad Ohio, a vote recount that will determine a House seat was suspended Saturday in deference to the Ohio State-Michigan game. Much like the politicians awaiting the outcome of that race, the Wolverines will now spend the next two weeks waiting to learn if they will indeed be granted a rematch against the Buckeyes.

In the meantime, they will spend Tuesday mourning Schembechler at a memorial service at Michigan Stadium. Perhaps it's best the old coach didn't live to see Saturday's game. Three things sacred to Schembechler took a beating that day: defense, and the absolute sanctity of both the Big Ten championship and the Rose Bowl. He'd have a hard time embracing this new world in which his beloved Michigan could lose the Big Ten title and yet still win the national title or have to accept the Rose Bowl as some sort of consolation prize.

Update: I wrote the above after viewing the BCS standings release Sunday afternoon. Between then and now, BCS experts like Brad Edwards and Jerry Palm have weighed in to say that USC is actually in better position to reach the title game than Michigan, because a win by any margin over Notre Dame will bump the Trojans to No. 2 in the computers. While this may be true, I maintain that the voters, who will ultimately determine the matchup, will closely evaluate USC-Notre Dame against Michigan-Notre Dame. If the Wolverines pick up a few more points in the human polls, we will have a rematch.

John L. Smith Trophy

I'm sure a few of you think Lloyd Carr might deserve this award, either for changing his mind about going for two early in the fourth quarter when trailing by five, or for his decision to throw deep on third-and-one later earlier in the half. Sorry, I didn't have a problem with either call. With the rate of scoring in that game, I felt it was too early to go for two (although Carr's indecision forced Michigan to kick the extra point from the hash), and Mike Hart had been stuffed on a couple of earlier short-yardage attempts, so I didn't mind the aggressiveness.

Instead, this week's award goes to Cincinnati coach Mark Dantonio, which is tough because his Bearcats are coming off their biggest win of the season, a 30-11 upset of Rutgers. Dantonio gets the trophy because his gaffe nearly allowed Rutgers to get back in the contest. Leading 17-3, Cincinnati had a first down at its own 24-yard line with just 22 seconds left in the first half. The Bearcats opted to run a play rather than take a knee and head to the locker room. The resulting fumble was recovered by Rutgers, which promptly turned the ball right back over on an interception in the end zone. But that doesn't lessen Dantonio's sin. It's something you see often in college, coaches opting to run the ball rather than just take a knee when trying to kill the clock. So what if 99.9 percent of the time it doesn't matter? This play is the reason why you don't do it. Had Rutgers scored a touchdown there and comeback to win in the second half, Dantonio's call would have been the primary reason.

Congratulations on the win, but enjoy your JLS Trophy, Mark Dantonio!

BlogPoll Ballot

This season, I'll again be voting in the BlogPoll, hosted by MGoBlog. I'll post my ballot in Junkie each week. Feel free to comment -- my rankings may change based upon your suggestions.

Rankings that may need some further explanation include:

  • I went back and forth between USC and Michigan at the second spot about three times before settling on Michigan. I will wait to see USC-Notre Dame on Saturday night before I make a final judgment, just as I assume many of the voters in the coaches and Harris polls will do. I'm not saying that USC needs to beat Notre Dame by 28 points to move up to No. 2, but they do need to look impressive. I don't see Notre Dame on November 25 as much different than Notre Dame on September 16. I still see the same awful secondary, the same quarterback who looks brilliant when he has time to throw and can be made to look quite ordinary -- or worse -- when he doesn't. Since losing to Michigan, Notre Dame simply hasn't played anyone. They have no body of work on which to be judged. If USC is equal to or superior to Michigan, they shouldn't have much trouble with the Irish. If they do, Michigan is the better team.
  • This is the week the comparitive results in the Big East fall apart. So rather than comparing head-to-head, I'm looking at losses. Louisville lost by three at Rutgers. West Virginia lost by 10 at Louisville. Rutgers lost by 19 at Cincinnati. Hence the order.
  • Texas moves up by default. I couldn't put LSU in that spot after an OT win over Ole Miss.
  • Cal was already devalued on my ballot and doesn't need to fall far after losing at USC.
  • The way I see it, there are gaps between the top three and everyone else, another dropoff between the SEC schools and Notre Dame, and another dropoff after No. 12 Auburn. In other words, not much difference between 1-3 (other than Ohio State is the clear No. 1), 4-5, 6-12, 13-25.
Rank Team Delta
1 Ohio State --
2 Michigan --
3 Southern Cal --
4 Arkansas --
5 Florida --
6 Notre Dame 1
7 Louisville 2
8 West Virginia 2
9 Texas 3
10 Wisconsin 3
11 LSU --
12 Auburn 2
13 Boston College 2
14 Rutgers 8
15 Oklahoma 1
16 Boise State 1
17 Tennessee 1
18 Wake Forest 10
19 Georgia Tech 2
20 Virginia Tech 2
21 California 2
22 Hawaii 1
23 Brigham Young 1
24 Nebraska 1
25 Penn State 1

Dropped Out: Maryland (#20).

Portions of this article appeared in Monday's New York Sun.

Posted by: Russell Levine on 20 Nov 2006

128 comments, Last at 23 Nov 2006, 4:01pm by nick


by Erasmus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 7:35pm

Alabama sucks....that is all.

My Saturday was horrible-grew up a Michigan fan and went to Alabama undergrad (and became a huge fan)....

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 7:37pm

I hope to write an Extra Point about this in the offseason, but I believe the best solution to the BCS lies in the creation of an NCAA tournament-style selection committee with the power to assign teams to particular bowl games, taking into account current rankings, both poll and computer, and historic conference affiliations.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 7:40pm

I believe at this stage it's either USC or Michigan.

Voters will surely look at the USC game vs. Notre Dame and compare it to the Michigan one, but not as closely as I think you believe, Russell. We all know the voters don't ever look as closely as we'd like them to. Especially the Coaches' Poll voters - the Coaches' Poll, more than the AP, suffers from massive poll inertia.

USC will move to essentially a unanimous #2 in the computers if they beat Michigan, according to all the BCS experts. That would mean Michigan would have to retake #2 by a fairly decent margin in order to remain #2 in the BCS. What is that margin?

Right now? They'd need to be ahead of USC by a little more than 1% of the vote - that in essence means Michigan would have to be moved to #2 on about three-quarters of the ballots, in both polls (or USC would have to be moved down due to a "bad win", of course). Are Coaches' Poll voters that into the vote?

That doesn't sound like much, but it's a huge margin.

What I think is more likely is that if USC wins against Notre Dame, they will take #2 in the BCS Standings. Even if it's an ugly win. However, a lousy showing against UCLA by USC will cost them poll points, and those are where Michigan can make up the difference.

Also of note is that many of the BCS experts are also saying that if Florida beats Florida State and Arkansas, along with USC winning out, Florida will move to #3 in at least half the computers, and Michigan will move down to #4. In that case, there will be almost nothing Michigan can do.

by Heckler (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 7:41pm

Opinions are like...well, you know. But here's mine anyway. Michigan had their championship game. It was Saturday, they lost. I don't think it's reasonable to say they get a second shot at a championship. They lost, time for the next team to step up. If they wanted to win the title, they should have scored more points.

Also, when did the Big 10 give up on defense? All year they've been putting up PAC-10 scores.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 7:41pm

Err, that should be USC will move to a unanimous #2 in the computers if they beat Notre Dame.

by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 7:47pm

I don't recall a #2 losing to #1 and not dropping in the polls before. Even when Florida and FSU were the best two teams in the country in 1996, Florida dropped after losing to FSU in the last game of the season. Both of those teams were substantially better than either OSU or Mich this year. And the Gators that year had played a much, much better schedule.

The only way this could happen was with two Big Ten schools (or Notre Dame).

by Mr B (UK) (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 7:49pm

Er...so where's Da U as all those players like to refer to it?

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 7:52pm

Russell, I'm guessing all of the margin-of-victory-related comments are with respect to how the polls would view/will view Michigan? MOV doesn't matter any more in the computer rankings ...

Michigan is basically in the same position as Oklahoma was in their who-needs-a-Big-12-title year, except that they were #2 instead of #1, and with a likely-surmountable lead instead of an insurmountable one. If you want the two highest-ranked teams at the end of the season, take them. I suspect that if it does turn out to be UM, the BCS will change its rules again next season to prevent two teams from the same conference from playing in the title game.

IMHO, the sanctity of the Rose Bowl was lost when it added "Presented by AT&T," but then again, I still talk about the Hall of Fame Bowl, so I'm not sure my opinion means that much ...

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 8:07pm

Re #6
The reason UF dropped from #2 is there remained another unbeaten team (Arizona State). What you had there was a team with a better record passing a team with a worse record. Here, though, Michigan goes from the ranks of the major-conference undefeateds to atop the ranks of the one-loss teams. My preference for somebody other than UM to face tOSU notwithstanding, I believe it's eminently reasonable to (i) rank UM #2 in the country and (ii) believe UM to be the second-best team in the country. In my newly revised mythical ballot, I have UF #2, UM #3, USC #4, and Arkansas #5, but with very little separating them.

by BB (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 8:09pm

I'm confused now with the computers -- if they all consider USC to have a tougher schedule than Michigan, and they both have one loss, why is USC behind Michigan in the computers? Does it have something to do with USC having played fewer games?

Anyone have an explanation? I mean, as a Michigan fan I'd be happy to see them get a shot at OSU on a field that's in decent shape instead of that joke on Saturday where the postgame celebration probably improved the quality of the playing surface (the playing field and footing reminded me of Michigan Stadium circa 2001; by the next season they'd installed artificial turf, the field had been that bad), but it looks odd to me as it stands now given USC's schedule.

by El Angelo (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 8:10pm

Extremely overshadowed by OSU-UM, USC's whupping of Cal, and Rutgers upset was the other Cinderella collaspse; namely, Wake turning into a pumpkin at the worst time. I presume they still get to the ACC championship game by beating Maryland (by virtue of beating BC), but it would've been neat to see them get to play Ga. Tech with one loss.

by Zac (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 8:18pm

Hearing you explain the BCS, Russell, I finally figured out why it doesn't work. Because it's a compromise. And like that great writer Anonymous (you can find his stuff everywhere!) once wrote "A compromise is an agreement whereby both parties get what neither of them wanted."

The traditionalists don't get the automatic bowl bids (Big Ten/Pac-10 Rose Bowl, for example) that they want, and the modernists don't get the playoffs that they want. Nobody is happy.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 8:19pm

If I were a BCS voter, which I wouldn't want to be, absent a huge salary, I would not move USC past Michigan, absent the Trojans crushing the Irish in L.A.. I favor whatever causes the most discomfort for the bureaucrats who run the BCS, so if someone here who follows college ball more than I has some notion as to what scenario would do that, please let me know what I should root for.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 8:24pm

Re: #10

USC hasn't played Notre Dame yet, so Notre Dame doesn't count as a game on USC's schedule, computer-wise.

That's why the computer people have all said "If USC beats Notre Dame, USC will go to #2." There are three reasons for this...first, USC will have another marquee win. Second, they will have played their 11th game. Third, if USC beats Notre Dame, Michigan's "best" win (which computers like to weight heavily) will be lessened, dropping their ranking.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 8:28pm

BB, as I understand it, it is the fact that USC has played fewer games that results in the computers having them behind Michigan right now.

For any Domers out there, no, there is no conceivable way that you should be allowed to play the Buckeyes for the crystal ball, given the way the Wolverines beat you like the proverbial leased sterile horse/donkey hybrid, with the Risen Lord signaling each Michigan score.

by Jesse (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 8:32pm

My take:

Michigan is the second best team in the country, a fair step ahead of USC. OSU won the game, however, and to ask them to beat Michigan twice in 2 or so months isn't fair, as it puts zero value on the game that was played Saturday. If SC convincingly beats ND (>14 points) they should be #2, as long as they follow that up with a strong performance against UCLA. If ND-USC is a barnburner, UM stays #2, if Florida wins out convincingly in all their games, and USC either chokes or gets sloppy wins, Florida should move up to #3, but that doesn't make much difference, they shouldn't be #2 no matter what.

by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 8:37pm

#10 - it has to do with winning percentage and who USC has played. Even if USC was playing a mediocre school instead of ND, assuming they win they'd go ahead of Michigan because their winning % will improve.

by Benjamin (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 8:38pm

I must be losing my mind because I can't believe a one lose Florida team is seemingly completely out of discussion. This is the team that was seen as having the toughest schedule going into the year and to be sitting at one loss but having to jump 2 teams to make it to #2. They've beaten LSU, Alabama, and Georgia and if they finish the season well, Flordia State and Arkansas. Yes they lost to Aulburn but that's a lot better loss than to Oregon State! I'm a huge Michigan fan and I'd love a rematch but I don't know how we can justify that when we just lost to the #1 team and Florida can come out of the best conference in football with the same record.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 8:48pm

Re: #18

The problem with that argument is that few of the computer ranking metrics see the SEC as the "best" conference this year (in most of them it's the Pac-10). I had this "discussion" in last week's Confessions, about "serious" SEC football teams.

The SEC isn't the best conference every year. SEC people just think it is, and most of the talking heads trumpet it over and over.

In terms of schedule, Florida's schedule is generally ranked behind that of any of the other major 1-loss teams - Sagarin, for example, ranks Florida's schedule 36th, and USC's 3rd. Michigan 12th, Ohio State 27th. In Colley Matrix, USC is 6th, Florida 20th, Michigan 18th. Florida's schedule looked good at the start of the year, but Georgia is not a good team this year, nor Alabama, etc.

by TheWedge (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 8:53pm

I'm completely baffled as to why anyone would support a rematch in the National Championship (except for BCS-chaos reasons). This is for a couple of reasons:
1.) You should not get to play in the title game if you do not win your conference, this was true when it happened to Oklahoma it's true now of Michigan. Indy and New England don't get to play in the Superbowl even if they are the two best teams, too bad.
2.) Michigan LOST! Why do they get a second chance? Should Notre Dame get another crack at Michigan? Should USC get to play Oregon State again? I thought that the regular season was supposed to mean something, which is why we can't have playoff. If there is a re-match in the title game, the regular season apparently meant nothing.

Also, why exactly is USC #2? They have a bunch of subpar wins over subpar competition (minus Arkansas, I'm not sold at all on Cal) and a loss to a pretty mediocre team. UF has a much tougher conference and a much better loss, plus if they beat Arkansas then they devalue USC's win there and would have played another top flight team. Similarly the ammount that WVU and Louisville dropped is insane. Apparently, losing to a top 10 team at their home knocks you right out of the title picture. Sigh.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 9:01pm

UF has a much tougher conference.

Not according to the computers - which, in addition to USC's schedule also being better in all of the computers, is one reason, despite the loss to a weaker team, USC is ranked ahead of Florida in every one of them.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 9:04pm

if they all consider USC to have a tougher schedule than Michigan, and they both have one loss, why is USC behind Michigan in the computers?

Three reasons:

1: Michigan lost to #1. USC lost to #27 (if that).

2: Strength of schedule isn't the same as "strength of schedule of your victories" which is really what most of the statistical ranks are ranking.

3: The distribution of the teams that Michigan and USC have played are quite different. The main reason USC's schedule strength is considered harder is because there are more teams in the middle. This doesn't pin your rating nearly as much as beating teams in the top 10, for instance, though it does make your schedule look, on the average, harder.

by Comrade Jason (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 9:15pm

I'm not sure USC is the second best team, but I'd like to see them make it just becuase it's a good argument for scheduling tough non-conference games. Obviously you can't control whether or not your conference is strong in any given year, but USC scheduled Arkansas, Nebraska, and ND for their 3 non-conference games and I think they should be rewarded for that. Who did Florida play this weekend? Central Carolina or some DII school?

All that being said, I'd be in favor of a playoff ...

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 9:34pm

My other thought on this.

I'm not sure the coaches want a rematch, if only because it might lead to BCS changes.

The coaches had the opportunity to pull out of the BCS two years ago; the AP did, after all. The coaches chose to continue the current system. Will points out that were he a voter, he'd vote in such a way as to disrupt the system. But despite all the coaches that bitch about it publicly, the coaches voted to continue to support the BCS system as-is, by continuing to contractually bind their final ballot, and thus their half of the championship, to the winner of the BCS game (which the AP never did).

I think as long as USC and Florida win out, the pollsters are going to be more inclined to manipulate things to put USC (or Florida) in the game, rather than to put forth a rematch which could result in changing the system.

If the coaches wanted to change the system, they had their chance; they didn't take it, save for making their final ballots public.

by hector (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 9:35pm

What would have to happen before we see a playoff system instituted? Will we ever see one? The lights went on in Wrigley, the Red Sox won the World Series, Terrell Owens wrote a children's book on sharing, anything is possible, right?

by Richard (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 10:07pm

Technically the championship game is a "playoff."

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 10:13pm

6 Or if the two schools were clearly the best two out there? ANyway either way thigns will be settled on Saturday. If USC beats NOtre Dame convincingly, thats great, but if they don't I would rather see a team that lost to the consensus number 1 by 3 pts ON THE ROAD, and has a great rivalry with number 1 play for the title.

Maybe its just my other sports mentality, but I would always rather have the two best teams, rather than the team that lost longest ago.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 10:20pm

For the record, Arkansas lost longest ago, followed by Notre Dame, and Florida.

USC's loss is actually the most recent (excepting Michigan of course).

It seems odd to say "OK OSU, you have to beat Michigan twice to be champion, but Michigan, you only have to beat them once." (Note that because of the computers, the odds of a rematch would have been almost zero had OSU lost; OSU would have nosedived in the computers to the point where USC, Florida, Notre Dame, and Arkansas would all have to drop games before they could get back in).

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 10:22pm

16 I don't buy the argument that a rematch places zero value on the previous game at all.

Each game is a new data point. And a three point with at home for OSU is a data point that tends to show that Michigan is just as good as the consensus #1. The game does definitely mean something. If OSU had won by 20 then a rematch would be silly, but they didn't. Why should a team be punished just because they happened to have the road game this year?

Overall I would much rather see a tiered relegation league where schedules would overlap much more and you could have a playoff, but given the current system why not let the cards fall where they may.

by Richard (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 10:24pm

I think I'd rather see USC, Louisville, West Virginia or LSU than Michigan (at this point in time).

by Kyle, Louisville (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 10:47pm

Who's to say Arkansas or Louisville or whoever couldn't beat Michigan? Or OSU? They never played, there's no way to know, no common opponents. At least give some other teams a shot to play OSU and Michigan, and if it becomes clear after bowl games that those teams were indeed the best 2 in the nation, then they can still finish 1st and 2nd in the nation, in the polls, in our hearts, whatever. But it's silly to play the game again, there's already a winner.

by Cristian (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 10:47pm

Whats the question here? who "should" or who would "I rather" have play in the championship.

In my oppinion I'd throw out the arguments against a rematch because it would be unfair for OSU to have to beat Mich twice. They played them in the regular season and beat them. The regular season is different than the Bowl games (this is why OSU has won the Big Ten Championship after Saturday's win). OSU has earned a spot in the final game because they went undefeated (throw out Boise State because they played nobody). Now Florida and USC had the oppurtunity to go undefeated this year without having to play OSU (the consensus best team up to this point in the season) and they were not able to do so. Mich lost only one game, and that was to a team ranked ahead of them at the time. USC nor Florida did this. ND is out because they lost to Michigan.

I write this as an tOSU alum and fan, personally I would rather face USC or Florida, I think we would have a better chance at winning against either of them, having to rematch against Michigan would make it tougher (no surprises, 7 weeks for each team to prepare) but I still believe OSU is the better team and should win that game.

by Kyle, Louisville (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 10:48pm

scratch the "no common opponents" thing, but my point stands.

by Kyle, Louisville (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 10:50pm

er..dammit, please forget I said Louisville, that looks bad. I don't really think they'd win BTW. Pretend it says West Virginia. I'll try not to post anymore, just ignore the teams in my example and focus on the point.

by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 11:04pm

Isn't it about time we all agreed that the strength of schedule computations are complete crap? There is a huge difference between SOS of a top 5 team and SOS for a top 40 team and SOS for a bottom 40 team.

For national title purposes, a contender whose sched consisted of 3 top ten teams and the worst nine in Div I would be far more challenging than a schedule consisting of teams 30-41. For a team just trying to be bowl eligible, the second schedule is much, much harder.

When we are talking about whose the best, does it matter whether your gimmes were against #116 or 86?

by Towens (not verified) :: Mon, 11/20/2006 - 11:30pm

"I write this as an tOSU alum and fan ..."

That's the worst beginning to a sentence I've ever read ...

by The Mulgrew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 12:07am

do any of these teams have any good QBs that the Eags can draft?

by dp (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 12:36am

why would michigan even want to play the ohio state again? a couple unforced turnovers and a couple bad calls, and they were still never within striking distance of taking the lead. i was told to expect a lot more from this supposed great michigan defense. lloyd carr's record vrs tressel is bad enough having to play him at least once a season. at least with a month and then some of off time michigan fan can come up with some great dismissive/pre-emptive excuses for the loss. if it's not the punt coverage or the officiating, it must be the field.

usc has wins either directly or indirectly over the first or second best teams in the big 12, sec and pac-10. michigan has nothing like this. and if we can just finally get this usc-notre dame game played, maybe this will clear up everything, and they will run out of teams to predict usc to lose to. the florida/arkansas winner and west virginia are much better choices than michigan for the title game, too. i don't buy for a second that a rematch would be unfair to the ohio state. it'd probably be the easiest matchup for them.

by Zac (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 12:54am

Towens: Apparently the t in tOSU is silent.

by Aymond (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 2:27am


As a Michigan fan, I don't want a rematch. The reasons are plentiful, mixed between we don't deserve it, it cheapens the game, and it's a no-win situation for Michigan. Win, you have a debatable national championship that probably ends up as a split title. Lose, someone else belongs in the game.

That said, I'm sick of all this BS that OSU was that much better. Our starting safety got hurt, we affectionately refer to his backup's errors as "yards after Mundy." The turf was... well, bad. I'm not saying it was an advantage for tOSU, but it was definitely an advantage for offenses. The Manningham drops were unforced, the Henne overthrow on a sure touchdown when it was 7-7 was unforced, and Crable's dumb hit was unforced. Hell, Burgess missing the tackle on Wells was unforced to try to tackle high. OMG Michigan could have won by like 20! Both teams made bad mistakes, the turnovers were a lot more visible. OSU is a better team, by a small but noticeable margin. We may be #2 in the nation, but most Michigan fans that I know think that a one-loss Florida or USC should go first.

As for the easiest match-up? Most tOSU fans disagree with you greatly, but that might be Big 10 homerism.

I seriously question your objectivity if you think the officiating was bad. The only questionable call by the book was the PI against Manningham, and he was clearly faceguarding while making contact with his hands. Faceguarding isn't illegal in college, contact is.

by Mikey Benny (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 2:44am

I wonder if the OSU crowd will ever realize how ridiculous and pretentious they sound when they say "THE" Ohio State University. Puh-leeze, get over yourselves.

by Jericho (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 3:22am

I don't get the anti-Michigan movement. It seems most fans and a lot of the media don't want to see Michigan in the BCS game. But the BCS isn't about matching up what people want to see, it's about determining the best two teams. Or at least making the best educated guess as to the two best teams, since no one can say for certain who is better. Maybe its Michigan this year or maybe its USC. If anyone else really wanted to stake a claim to a BCS spot, they shouldn't have lost.

As for the conference champ thing, it seems a foolish and unnecessary rule. It's possible to have two undefeated teams from one conference (i.e. the Big 10, where Wisconsin could have beaten Michigan and gone undefeated). Notre Dame's not even in a conference, which either makes them ineligible or makes it much easier from them to qualify. Some conferences can have champs with one loss and no championship game, while others can have zero losses and lose a championship game to a team with many losses. The bottom line should always be about the two best teams, regardless of where they come from.

by Jericho (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 3:26am

Remember when FSU beat Florida in the regular season, but lost to Florida in the bowl game? Which gave Florida a national title over FSU and a gaggle of one loss teams? The year was 1996. And no seemed to be too bitter about having a rematch in the bowls. Besides, the bowls are essentially the playoffs, even it its just a one game playoffs. In any sport, teams play one another in the regular season and again in the playoffs. The Colts beat Pittsburgh in the regular season, but lost in the playoffs. Why is okay in the NFL, but not in the NCAAs?

by Russell Levine :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 3:47am

Re: 25

Creating a playoff in college football is far more complicated than any of those. It has to do with money and who gets it more than anything. The NCAA doesn't run the bowls. The NCAA would have to run a playoff. No one has yet proposed a business arrangement that solves that simple problem.

by scottnot (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 4:01am

I don't think there should be a rematch unless the very unlikely scenario of usc beating nd and losing to ucla plus ark losing to lsu and beating fla. Mostly because (unlike #40 I think getting a +3 turnover advantage and 3 big subjective calls, 2pi's and the pf on the center (has anyone ever seen this call before)) I think another game would be more lopsided. Hard to believe anyone could think mich outplayed osu.
Biggest controversy would be nd beating usc, which I think will happen. And then getting the bcs bid over mich which is probably unlikely.
Not having two schools from one conference wouldn't work for the reasons stated in #42, but purdue (expected to much better at the beginning of the year) would be a better example since they don't play either mich or osu. A couple of years ago wisc got the same break. No big 10 school should avoid both in any year.
Best solution has to be non-conference schedule, which I think everyone agrees is usc.
Another possibility is dropping every teams top three wins then do a computer ranking. I bet we'd stop seeing cupcakes on the schedule.
Or make every bcs conference school schedule only other bcs conference schools for their non-conference games.

by hector (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 6:39am

44, Of course, you are right; I was comparing apples and oranges, to be sure, just throwing some off-the-cuff items out there. Still, I'd love to hear how a playoff could happen in the near future, or even get an answer to this: Am I wasting my time hoping for the system to be "fixed" in the near future? Isn't there a way for *everyone* to do well in a new system? I realize the bowls want their money, but wouldn't a playoff (keep the bowl sites and titles) be a license to print money anyway? I'm assuming there are clear cons to the (very) general playoff argument that I'm not seeing.

by Russell Levine :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 8:47am

Re: 46

Don't hold your breath. A playoff isn't happening anytime soon. The best you can hope for is a one-game playoff after the bowls, which I think will happen in another 4 years or so. Of course, a one-game playoff after the bowls solves nothing, but they'll do it anyway.

For as much money as might be made in a playoff, it won't go to as many schools as the bowl money does. Right now Duke gets as much bowl money as Florida State in the ACC, so Duke's president is never going to support a playoff in which payouts are determined by performance.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 9:44am

I wonder if the OSU crowd will ever realize how ridiculous and pretentious they sound when they say “THE� Ohio State University. Puh-leeze, get over yourselves.

It's the university which specifies its use, not the fans, actually.

by Kyle, Louisville (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 9:56am

Why is it impossible for 1-loss ND to get in over Michigan, but just fine for 1-loss USC get in over 1-loss Arkansas?

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 10:09am

Because Notre Dame lost to Michigan, and Arkansas lost to USC?

by Dean (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 10:16am

I thought that this was supposed to be a site where "conventional wisdom" wasn't accepted dogmatically? So why is it that we have a laundry list of parrots regurgitating the same old garbage about how awful the BCS is? The fact of the matter is, despite the fact that nobody likes to admit it, THE BCS WORKS.

I love college football, and I find college basketball insufferably boring. The single biggest reason is that the regular season, in basketball, is meaningless. Had this been basketball season, the Ohio State/Michigan game would have been just another game.

That's really just an ancillary benefit, though.

The only time the talking heads will ever praise the BCS is the scenario where there are 2 undefeated teams from power conferences. Thing is, that’s when we need it least. Any schmuck can make that matchup. The far more likely scenario is that there will be a handful of teams with 1 loss, all of them good, and all of them with their supporters.

“State is deserving!�
“No! Tech is!�
“But the SEC team…�
“Well, we all know the Big 10…�

We fight, and we squabble, and why? Because the names may change from year to year, but we all believe that our opinion is the correct one, and each program actually does have a sufficiently impressive resume to impress the demographic that has seen it play the most. Real world alert – one team is going to be happy, and the rest are going to be upset, no matter what. Years like this year, when there are more then two potentially capable finalists, are EXACTLY WHEN AND WHY WE NEED THE BCS THE MOST!

As for a playoff, well, that’s the beauty of college football. You’ve been watching a double-elimination playoff since August!

So instead of relying on the flawed perceptions of humans, politicking, and whatever else, a system was designed to apply mathematics to the problem and come up with a dispassionate conclusion. A novel idea was proposed – lets actually use metrics to reward the team that actually is the most deserving. Hmmm… …where have I heard about something like that before???

by K-Jack (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 10:17am

If I recall correctly, the 1996 rematch between Florida and Florida State was not #1 v #2. This was back before the Rose Bowl joined the Bowl Alliance (making it the Super Alliance for one season pre-BCS). #3 Florida beat #1 Florida State in the rematch. #4 Ohio State beat #2 Arizona State in the Rose Bowl. The 1996 season was the best argument against the BCS 1v2 format, clearly neither Florida State (#1) nor Arizona State (#2) deserved to win the National Championship since neither could win their bowl game.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 10:40am

51 Great post Dean.

And I'll just repeat that I think the system is working pretty well this year. If USC clobbers ND, they deserve to get in. If not Michigan deserves to get in. Florida hasn't really done anything to impress IMO.

by Kyle, Louisville (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 11:00am

50: Yeah I worded that wrong...and the right way to word it doesn't look like a probable outcome anyway. Don't know what I was thinking really.

by Chris Heinonen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 11:06am

One of my main problems with the BCS recently has been the constant tweaking of the computer polls in reaction to public outcry, even though the people that do the computer polls have a far, far greater grasp of statistics than the people forcing the changes. Removing margin of victory from the computers forced these people to make changes to their computer polls that they didn't want to make, and probably make them less accurate, just because some people that didn't understand them didn't like that idea.

Now, I'm not saying the computer are perfect, but if you're going to use them, let the people that write the computer polls develop the formula however they think it works best. I'm glad Sagarin still puts his 'true' rankings out there to see, so you can compare them to the ones used by the BCS.

What I'd like to see is a more flexible, adaptable 'playoff' format where it might contain anywhere from 2-6 teams, but there is some criteria used to make that judgement. If USC wins out, I imagine most people (I know the SEC people will object for sure) wouldn't mind having USC and Michigan play for the right to play Ohio State again, and giving Ohio State a bye into the title game for going undefeated would seem fair to me as well. Put USC and Michigan in the Rose Bowl, and have the winner play Ohio State a week later in the BCS title game, that's fine with me. One less team makes a BCS game, but we get a better way to decide who makes the title game. I'll probably try to flesh out this concept over the next few weeks before the BCS Bowls start.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 11:09am

Me, I am just thrilled with Wisconsin's season. I did enjoy hearing one of those BCS "gurus" talk up Wisky in that should certain things occur Wisconsin could finish 6th in the BCS and yet still be on the outside looking in.

Doesn't bother me. Stuff happens.

I do wish to correct an earlier error on my part. In a discussion over scheduling I thought this year's schedule was chosen in the usual manner. Instead, I discovered that UW had originally signed an agreement with Oregon State who backed out at the last minute. Which explains why in the next few seasons Wisconsin's pre-season schedule looks pretty soft.

I know folks like to take shots at Wisco's schedule so that it should be pointed out that Barry and Co. DID try to engage interesting opponents.

And for the record during Alvarez tenure are are years/pre-season opponent of note since 2000:

2000: Oregon
2001: Virginia, Oregon, Fresno St.
2002: Fresno St.
2003: West Virginia
2004: Nobody (Arizona but they had fallen off the map in football)
2005: North Carolina, Bowling Green (folks might laugh but Omar Jacobs was a heckuva player on a team expected to win the MAC)

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 11:14am

Also, Alvarez has publicly stated that he has contacted teams in the Big 12 and been told no. Wisconsin isn't interested in playing SEC teams in the pre-season because of the bowl arrangement between the Big Ten/SEC.

And before anyone suggests Notre Dame because of Barry's connection to the school the Notre Dame schedule isn't likely to add ANOTHER Big Ten school any time soon.

by Phil (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 11:18am

Re 51: How can you say the BCS works when over 50 teams start the season with zero chance to win the national championship? That's a pretty stupid system IMO.

by Dean (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 11:28am


...Again, not true. Just because Lee Courso and Kirk Herbstreet say so every week doesn't mean they're right.

The fact of the matter is - if you play enough good teams, and you win your games, you'll be there at the end - even if you play in the MAC, WAC, whatever.

You can't control your conference schedule - all you can do is win those games. But lets say you're a Mountain West school. If you were to hypothetically schedule non-conference games against Oregon, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, and Virginia Tech - and win all 4, you'd wouldn't be GIVEN a BCS spot, you would EARN a spot.

But when you're playing the likes of New Mexico State or Southwest Louisiana, you haven't earned squat.

Again, the talking heads love the Cinderella story - it gives them a chance to jerk at your heartstrings and manipulate your emotions - which is good for TV ratings. But if Cinderella wasn't fat and ugly, she wouldn't have needed that fairy godmother in the first place.

I would much rather the BEST team be crowned champion each year - not some fair-to-middlin' bunch that got on a hot streat at the right time.

by OmarBradley (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 11:57am

In '96, Florida lost and fell to #4. Two teams ranked ahead of them lost the following weekend, which set up the rematch with FSU. Clearly not the same scenario this year.

Still, has this situation ever happened before? Does anyone remember, say, an AP poll where a team that's ranked #1,#2, or #3 loses a game yet does not drop in the rankings?

What happened with USC in the polls seemed odd as well. They lost a conference game on the road, and were dropped in the rankings, per usual. A week later, USC was back in the #3 spot.

I'm not saying that either of these poll movements (sounds dirty) is incorrect, just that something's changed in the mechanics of the polls.

We've been told (as viewers) that Michigan and tOSU are the two best teams by far. However, the average fan outside the midwest doesn't know much about these teams. Other than a look at OSU vs. Texas and a peek at Michigan vs. Notre Dame, there haven't been many opportunities to watch these two teams. There just weren't many marquee matchups on their schedules. I don't think College Gameday heading to an Ohio State game was even a remote possibility for any of the 9 games following Texas but before Michigan.

When the nation finally got a look at the great Michigan defense, they saw Ohio State busting 50+ yard TD runs up the middle of the field (twice). That didn't look like an elite defense out there. Ohio State was clearly in control of the game. The final margin may have been three points, but that was still a pretty comfortable victory. I was shocked Michigan didn't tumble a few spots in the polls.

Likely it doesn't matter, because if USC wins out, they'll jump Michigan anyway, but where does this respect for Michigan come from?

They were a 7 point underdog to Ohio State, and on a neutral field they'd be an underdog to USC, LSU, Texas, to name a few. That's the reality, but the polls have little to do with reality.

Michigan does not deserve a rematch, and hopefully they won't get one.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 12:01pm

Dean has it correct that it is, in fact, the years when there aren't two obvious teams, that the BCS actually "does something". The one-year "Super Alliance" could have managed successfully the system when there's two undefeated teams.

If there's a situation like last year, or 2002 (OSU/Miami), a chimpanzee could pick who goes to the title game - if you give it a bag that has only two helmets in it and ask it to pick two, it'll pick the right two every time.

The point is to choose from many flawed teams which team (or teams) should be placed in the game.

The downside is that if the "general football public" doesn't have "faith" in the team the BCS chose, then, like any political entity, it has to make changes (even if they're miniscule) because it is only legitimate as long as the "college football body politic" is OK with the resulting champion. That's why they only made minor adjustments until 2003, when they blew up the system - the "body politic" declared USC the champion days before LSU and Oklahoma ever played (which was unfair to both those teams, and still infuriating to many LSU fans), and now there's a split title. Oops! As the system crumbles, bring together a Blue Ribbon(tm) panel to make a completely new system.

That may actually be their biggest failing - since the BCS has changed its system every time there's been a hint of controversy (even the relatively small ones), it makes it clear that they don't actually have faith in their own system. That the system is really just a political entity set up to keep the money flowing toward the BCS conferences, and not to pick a real champion. If they really believed that the way they were doing things was right, and they believed in their metrics, they wouldn't back down every time. If they truly believed that their metrics were "good" (not the best, but good), they wouldn't have fully acknowledged that USC is also champion in 2003 (which infuriates some LSU fans even more). But they do.

Interestingly enough, in 2004, the Oklahoma/USC/Auburn/Utah/Boise State year, they did stand by their system - for the first time, really - in telling Auburn "suck it." They didn't change a thing (except to introduce the Harris Poll as the AP pulled out). Tuberville rallied the troops, and in any other year, that would have led to another BCS rebuilding...but no. Part of me wonders if that's merely because USC vs. Oklahoma was such a 'sexy' game that there was no incentive to acknowledge the controversy.

The unhappy side of it is that the human side of the equation leads to a lot of lobbying for one's team - the Texas vs. Cal debacle a few years ago, where Mack Brown actually had to go on television and beg voters for votes, was a travesty. But that's where we are now. Every vote counts. By my calculation, if USC moved ahead in one computer over Michigan...that wouldn't be enough to put them in the title game. But if they moved ahead in one computer, and got about 5 extra poll votes (or Michigan lost 5)? That'd be enough. That's how slim the margins are, and how easy the voters can manipulate the process if they so desire.

by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 12:22pm

I've always been of the opinion that there should be a playoff system, but that the rankings should be abolished and play no part in determining the teams that participate. Instead, every division I-A conference champion should get in. That way teams like Boise State get their shot, and the regular season matchups mean every bit as much as they do now- that Michigan-Ohio State game would have been a true knock out game.

That said, that's not the system we have now. The BCS is supposed to pick the two best teams to play in the championship game, and I think that most people would agree that the two best teams in the country are Ohio State and Michigan. The arguments against Michigan tend to revolve around the lack of novelty that a rematch would have, which is a poor way to go about things. (And honestly, no one would have a problem with a rematch if the teams played a 42-39 game in week one of the season.)

by DGL (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 12:23pm

#58: "The fact of the matter is - if you play enough good teams, and you win your games, you’ll be there at the end - even if you play in the MAC, WAC, whatever."

Ask Boise State if they agree with this statement. They're not going to be there at the end, even if they go 12-0, because they play in the WAC. Had Rutgers won out, it was unlikely that they would have been there at the end, because they play in the Big East and were unranked at the beginning of the season.

by Jericho (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 12:27pm

Why should Michigan drop in the polls? My dad used to always ask me this question (for any poll). If #1 plays #2, and #2 is on the road and loses a tight game, isn't that exactly what was expected to happen? It was expected that Michigan lose, and they did. They played a close game. Still doesn't mean they can't be #2. You could think the were the exact same team they were before the game, i.e. second best in the nation. Nothing that happened in that game changed that,

I agree with #51, the BCS does work. People criticize the BCS for what it isn't (a playoff) rather than see it for what it is (an attempt to put the two best teams in football on the field). People seem to forget the days when the top teams never played each other in bowls, and how much better it is these days. People also seem to complain the most when the BCS doesn't match the polls, which I find bizarre. Why do people put so much faith in flawed human polls I do not know. Every week the polls change, which basically is an admission that the previous week's poll was wrong. Plus humans have bias and can't posssibly factor in all the factors a computer does. In the end it is guesswork, but I'd rather have the educated guesswork of the computer than of a random human or a coach who probably doesn;t even watch other teams.

I do hate how the politics play in the process and how the system is tinkered a lot. I hate the over reliance on the human polls. But at least it allows for a mildly objective (with subjective inputs) attempt at the two best teams.

by Jericho (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 12:33pm

As to #63, actually I think Rutgers would have been there if they won out. Maybe I'm naive, but Louisville and West Virginia were in position to go to the BCS game, and they're from the Big East. If Rutgers could have beat WEst Virginia, I think the pollsters would have jumped them high enough to go to the BCS.

Also, I originally brought up the FSU/Florida rematch in 1996. I do realize Florida was not #2, but #3. Due to the Rose Bowl, #2 ASU couldn't play FSU. But Florida was granted a rematch over a gaggle of one loss teams by the Bowl Alliance (or Coalition, I forget). And solely based on the rematch, Florida won a national title by beating FSU (rendering FSU's original defeat meaningless). Maybe its selective memory, but I don't remember an outcry back then. And the situation is very similar since the point was to pick the two best non Pac-10/Big 10 teams. Anyone could have been picked over Florida to play in that bowl, but they weren't.

by Dean (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 12:35pm

I have no sympathy for Boise State. They're good. They're even very good.

I won't criticize them for playing in a weak conference, but I will criticize them for CHOOSING to schedule games against Sacramento State, Hawaii, and Wyoming.

Virginia Tech and Iowa State would find themselves in the same pickle if they didn't always choke. As far as I'm concerned, by deliberately choosing to schedule weak opponents, WHILE KNOWING THE CONSEQUENCES, they have disqualified themselves.

If Boise State had played, say, Boston College, LSU, and Nebraska instead of the three creme puffs, they'd be playing Ohio State in January, and they'd have earned it.

by Joe (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 12:47pm

Re 59: You can’t control your conference schedule - all you can do is win those games. But lets say you’re a Mountain West school. If you were to hypothetically schedule non-conference games against Oregon, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, and Virginia Tech - and win all 4, you’d wouldn’t be GIVEN a BCS spot, you would EARN a spot.

Name one major conference team that plays that difficult of a non-conference schedule. Teams like OSU and Michigan generally play one team from another major conference (or Notre Dame), two small conference teams and one I-AA team. That's just what Boise State did - one Pac 10 team, two Mountain West teams, and a I-AA team.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 12:53pm


I don't know how much "choice" Boise State has in their scheduling. It's pretty well documented that someone like a Boise St. doesn't get many phone calls returned simply because a team in the Big Ten, Big 12, etc. doesn't see much upside in scheduling Boise. If you win nobody recognizes it as being significant and if you lose you get hammered both in the media and in the polls.

Granted, maybe Boise St. HAS had chances going the Fresno St. route of playing multiple times at the opponents venue for one return engagement on their home field.

But does anyone really KNOW? I would be really surprised to find out that Boise St. had chances to play teams from the SEC, Big East, etc. and took a pass.

by Joe (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 12:53pm

Re: 66 I have no sympathy for Boise State. They’re good. They’re even very good.

I won’t criticize them for playing in a weak conference, but I will criticize them for CHOOSING to schedule games against Sacramento State, Hawaii, and Wyoming.

Get your facts right - Hawail is in their conference.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 12:58pm

66 exactly...

DGL completely ingnored the "good teams" part of that. What is Boise's best win this year?

Hawaii? Nevada? Two teams probably somwhere in the 20-40 range when all is said an done.

Its hard to make the case you are number 1 or 2 when you haven't even played a top 20 team.

by Dave Glass (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 1:00pm

No one has explained what happens if UM wins a rematch by 3 points...wouldnt OSU feel cheated in that case, since they went 1-1 against UM? THIS is the problem with the system in general and a rematch in particular.

BTW, considering the offense I saw in that game, 2 things: PSU's D must be pretty darn good..and PSU's offense is as bad as I thought it was.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 1:01pm

68 But the big conference teams, start out with a much harder schedule because they are in better conferences.

Even a crappy team Big Ten team like Minnesota is ranked something like 45 in the nation. That would be Boise State's 2nd or 3rd best win.

It's Ohio State's what 6th best...lower even?

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 1:03pm

71 Why would they feel any more cheated than an NFL team who loses in the playoffs to someone they bat in the regular season? I highly doubt they would feel cheated, just stupid for not winnign again.

Did Green bay feel cheated the year the Vikings beat them in Lambeau as a wildcard?

by BB (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 1:07pm

67: USC

Michigan and OSU don't usually play a 1-AA team. Michigan never does, and OSU is doing it for the first time next year in playing Tressel's former employer, which is probably the only reason it's on the schedule.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 1:12pm


I don't disagree with you. Just trying to give teams like Boise State the benefit of the doubt. We don't know who they have tried to schedule and been told "forget it".

The MAC schools have a similar challenge. To their credit they are willing to play a team like Michigan or OSU multiple times at "The big House" or "The HorseShoe" before getting their home game. If Boise St. isn't willing to do that then they are just going to have to accept looking up at others in the polls.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 1:14pm

55 - Great post. Couldn't agree more.

My main complaint with the BCS is the elimination of margin of victory from the "computer polls" (a terrible name that contributes to public dislike of them).

Margin of victory could easily be included in the polls without contributing to poor sportsmanship. All you have to do is cap the margin of victory weighting for a given game at 21 or 24 or 28 so that any margin beyond that number has no incremental impact.

To me, beating a team by 42 points instead of 28 proves nothing. It's a dominant win either way. But beating a team by 21 points instead of 3 is a big difference and should be accounted for in an objective ranking of teams.

The BCS ignores this and as you suggest the only reason why is that they caved to knee-jerk sportswriters.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 1:15pm

Re: #67

Name one major conference team that plays that difficult of a non-conference schedule.

While it may be only this year, I think USC's non-conference schedule of SEC West champion Arkansas, Big 12 North champion Nebraska, and Notre Dame certainly meets the qualifications.

(In 2007, USC has Idaho, Nebraska, and Notre Dame...2008 has Ohio State, Notre Dame, and one open date to be determined...)

by Todd D (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 1:15pm

So, the Big East Game of the Year (WVU-UL) ends up with a 44-34 score and the conclusion is that the conference is a joke and devoid of any defense whatsoever. The Big Ten game of the year (UM-OSU) ends up with a 42-39 score and it's considered an exciting (even "classic" in some circles) game. I suppose perception trumps reality yet again.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 1:20pm

I believe, beyond the running-up-the-score argument - which was ridiculous, as the BCS did, after the first year or so, cap margin of victory at 21, and teams still run up the score to impress the the poll voters (you think Florida wasn't thinking "Gotta impress the voters!" as it passed for two long touchdowns in the 4th quarter of its 62-0 beatdown over Western Carolina?) - there were complaints by "defense-oriented" teams that taking into account margin of victory would hurt teams that emphasize defense over offense, because the computers weren't taking into account yards etc. (like, say, DVOA), just points.

I'm not sure how valid a criticism that was, but I remember it being one beyond the running-up-the-score argument.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 1:21pm

Anybody remember Nebraska-Oklahoma 1978? After many years, Tom Osborne finally beat Oklahoma at home, 17-14. OU was ranked #1, NU #4. Nebraska goes to the Orange Bowl where it is matched up against -- yes, Oklahoma. There is a video somewhere around where you can see Osborne hearing of the rematch -- the look on his face is priceless. NU ends up losing 24-31.

This is why a playoff system wouldn't work.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 1:23pm

78 Who concluded that from the WV L game?

That sounds like a complete straw man arguement. All I saw people conclude was that L was a good footballl team. Thats certainly all the people here concluded.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 1:24pm

80 Why cause you might lose to a team you already beat? Tough...

by BB (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 1:29pm

78: West Virginia IS devoid of defense for the most part. I don't remember people necessarily concluding that about Lousiville, just that you could run on them (as proven by Rutgers the next week when Rice had a nice second half).

But I also remember hearing a lot of talk that WVa and Louisville's offenses were just that good. No one has really been able to shut either of them down when healthy (as to Louisville I mean with Brohm playing) other than Rutgers against Louisville.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 1:30pm

Re: #78.

If the Michigan-Ohio State game had been played by two Big East teams, it would have been 'evidence' that neither team was worthy of playing in the title game because it was a mistake-prone game and the home team could only barely hold serve on its home field.

If the Michigan-Ohio State game had been played in the Pac-10, you'd be hearing (especially from SEC honks) "See? The Pac-10 plays no defense, not like down in the SEC."

If the game had been played in the SEC, we'd probably be hearing how amazing the offenses of the two teams are, to have been able to get through those tough SEC defenses.

That's the problem with the pre-established conference "rote." I can't tell how often this year I've heard talking heads say "The SEC is the toughest conference this and every year!" and it drives me nuts because some years it flies in the face of all reality. When a Pac-10 or Big 12 "top" team loses to one of the lower teams in the conference, it's because the conference as a whole sucks. When Georgia loses to Kentucky or Tennessee to Vanderbilt (last year), it's because the SEC is so tough top to bottom, so amazingly dominant over all other conferences, that things like that happen, and not because one team may have had a good or bad day. When a Big East team is highly ranked, it's because they haven't played anybody. When a Pac-10 team is highly ranked, it's because the conference plays no defense and that the high scores impress the pollsters. When Notre Dame is highly ranked, it's because there's a pre-established bias towards them (OK, that one is reality). etc.

Unfortunately, as long as the human element plays 2/3 of the role in selecting things, these will not go away.

by Todd D (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 1:44pm

Perhaps I'm speaking too much about general perception, as opposed to the perception of all those on this board. But, I do feel that the discussion thread after the WVU-UL game contained a fairly significant amount of criticism for the quality of defense (certainly understandable) and that the criticism was extrapolated to the quality of play of the entire conference. And, I think it's unfair to conclude negatively on the ability of WVU and/or UL after a high scoring game, without bringing up the same point as a direct reaction to this game.

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 1:49pm

I'm nearing the point where, while I like the bowls and BCS system, I'm ready for a playoff. Why?

1. You have fans of the sport clamoring for the sport's system to fail. That's not good.

2. The screams for a playoff talk drown out eveything else. I remember back when the games, players, and bowls used to matter, and if it takes having a playoff to get back to that, at this point I'm willing.

Sorry if I sound old and cranky, but grown weary of the debate since, again, it completely takes the focus off of everything else in the game.

by Jesse (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 2:14pm

What do college basketball, the NBA, the NFL, and MLB have in common? Playoffs. Nobody complains that the regular season is "meaningless" in any of those sports.

As a few have pointed out, Indy went 1-1 against the Steelers last year, but lost when it counted. Tuff. People have a totally illogical idea that playoffs somehow wouldn't work in college football, even though they work perfectly everywhere else.

I like college basketball more than anything but the NFL because of march madness, even though college football is a better sport. Just imagine march madness atmosphere, but with stadiums crammed with 100,000 fans...a lot better than computers and idiot journalists deciding who's best

by hrudey (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 2:20pm

Re: 1996 -- Florida fell to 4 after losing to FSU. Nebraska would have played Florida State, but they lost their conference championship game, while Florida put a serious whooping on Alabama and moved up to three, with tOSU at 4 and BYU at 5. Florida beat #1 FSU, and undefeated #2 ASU lost to #4 tOSU. Florida fell behind two teams after losing to FSU, but the teams ahead of them lost, and since the Big Ten/Pac 10 hadn't joined the Alliance, the #2 ASU team wasn't eligible to play FSU. If the BCS were in place then, it would have been ASU-FSU.

As far as Michigan -- sure, they're a great team. So is USC, so is Florida. If Saturday's game proved that OSU is #1 and Michigan is #2, the BCS Championship should be awarded to OSU now and Michigan gets #2, and let the other teams just play their bowl games. Of course, if the Big Ten had a conference championship game, OSU would have to face Michigan again or Wisconsin, which would probably drop Wisky down a little further.

When it comes down to arguing strength of schedule, looking at the current BCS standings:

USC has #5 ND, #6 Arkansas, #19 Cal and #22 Nebraska -- for a total of four top 25 teams.

Florida has #6 Arkansas, #10 LSU, #12 Auburn, and #20 Tennessee.

Arkansas has #3 USC, #4 Florida, #10 LSU, #12 Auburn, and #20 Tennessee for a total of five.

Notre Dame has #2 Michigan, #3 USC, #16 Georgia Tech and #25 Penn State.

Michigan has #1 tOSU, #5 ND, #8 Wisconsin, and #25 Penn State.

Wisconsin has #2 Michigan and #25 Penn State.

Arkansas is the only team that has five top 25 BCS teams on their schedule -- and they went out and scheduled USC out of conference (and got annihilated). Discounting Wisconsin (and the Big East, because looking all this up gets old), all of the other 1-loss teams had a schedule with 4 top-25 teams on it, and the SEC teams have 4 top 20 teams on their schedule (5 for Arkansas) and have fully 25 percent of the BCS top 20. This isn't to say that the SEC champion is more deserving than any of the other non-Wisconsin teams -- but you can't say that they're less deserving either, except in the Arkansas-USC head to head comparison if it comes down to them.

by hector (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 2:21pm

One wonders how the standings might look had the Wolverines not scored a late touchdown to trim the final margin against Ohio State to three points.

Such an excellent point, and I'm surprised at how little this has been mentioned nationally. And with the full disclosure that I'm a five-year Michigander pulling for the Maize and Blue, that cosmestic TD drive was also aided by one of the spottiest flags of the day, a pass interference hankie against the Buckeyes that easily could have been a non-call.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 2:29pm

the list of contenders for the second spot in the championship game has been realistically trimmed to five: Notre Dame, Arkansas or Florida from the SEC, USC, and Michigan.

Notre Dame is out. They were blown out at home by Michigan. No way the deserve to rise above Michigan in the polls.

Its either Michigan in a rematch, USC if they beat Notre Dame, or the winner of Arkansas-Florida.

by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 2:34pm

But by that same token, the game was 35-31 with five minutes left and Michigan had stopped Ohio State before the roughing penalty. So OSU's touchdown to make it 42-31 was pretty cosmetic as well.

by BB (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 2:40pm

89: But one also could then wonder, what would the standings look like if Ohio State hadn't recovered that onside kick and then won in OT or even lost the game. You can play that game all day, the bottom line is the final margin was a field goal. It wasn't like scoring a TD with 2:30ish left to cut it to a field goal was meaningless at the time - it only was rendered meaningless by further play by the teams.

All this "what if" doesn't matter. The bottom line is the flags were thrown, the turnovers happened, the field was what it was for both teams, etc. The result is what it is - a narrow home victory for Ohio State that came down to an onside kick. Turnovers, penalties, goofy calls, bad luck, they happen in every game.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 3:50pm

"I wonder if the OSU crowd will ever realize how ridiculous and pretentious they sound when they say “THE� Ohio State University. Puh-leeze, get over yourselves."

Pretentious is a pretty big word for a pre-teen to be using. I'm impressed. Of course, I have to assume you're that young, because who over the age of eight would willingly go by "Mikey"?

(Irony alert: this post comes from someone who posts under the name of an animated dragon. Hey, what can ya do?)

As for the title game, I hope it is a rematch, for one very important reason. Michigan is the only school among the contenders that's north of Columbus. You know what that means, right? OSU can absolutely run circles around Michigan, but either USC or the SEC champ - well, the Buckeyes might as well be wearing concrete shoes for all it'll matter. Note that I don't consider ND a contender, but we saw last year what happens when the Bucks play a northen school in a bowl, and we'll get a repeat unless the Irish can change their latitude. Yep, that's all it was, Columbus is south of South Bend. You know, next year for the picks, you guys should just go with the school furthest south, you'll make a fortune!

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 3:56pm

By the way, for those interested, here are Troy Smith's career totals for three games against Michigan: 69/101 for 857 yards, 7 TD, 1 INT passing; 33 rushes for 194 yards and 2 TD. Not too shabby.

by Jericho (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 3:59pm

I agree, you can play the what if game all day. What if South Carolina doesn't choke and can actual make a FG? Then Florida's not even in the discussion. What if Arkansas scheduled some scrub instead of USC? They'd be heading to a potential national title game. The bottom line is that Michigan played OSU tight, on the road. That's all that really matters.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 4:10pm

No, the BCS most definitely does not work, if "work" is taken to mean to giving each team at the beginning of the year a reasonably equal chance to win the trophy, since one thinks the purpose of athletic competition is to identify the competitor which has competed best. In a year when there will likely be a handful of one loss teams trying to get the opportunity to play OSU for the crown, and in a world where schedule strength cannot be completely controlled, the BCS is a miserable failure by the definition outlined above.

As to other matters, college basketball sucks, because until March we have a glorified pre-season schedule, so the key to getting rid of the BCS, while avoiding a college basketball-like travesty, is to limit playoff participants to conference champs, while awarding first round home field advantage to teams with the best nonconference record versus quality opponents.

Personally, I'd prefer to simply have eight conference champs in the tournament, but if the prevailing sentiment was to have ten or eleven, with the needed play-in game and/or bye week(s), that would work as well. Let each conference decide on it's own how they would prefer to name their champ, and just say that a team that can't win it's conference is unworthy to compete for a national title. This would return to college football's real tradition, the conference races, while providing a real incentive for teams to try to schedule difficult nonconference games, thus reducing the worst aspect of college football, the large number of completely non-competitive games.

Assuming that Notre Dame would choose the Big Ten for it's conference, I'd like to see the new 12 team conference play an 11 game round robin, with one nonconference game, or two, if the NCAA allowed a 13 game regular season. I much prefer a conference round robin to a conference championship game. Just start the season for everybody on the last Saturday in August, and finish the regular season no later than November 23rd. There would then be plenty of time for even an eleven team tournamnt to finish by January 1st, if the t.v. boys thought that was the best day for the championship game.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 4:17pm

Also, a touchdown scored, and two point conversion made, to cut a lead to three points, with over two minutes remaining, is most definitely not "cosmetic", even if the trailing team has no timeouts left. It isn't as if successful onside kicks are THAT rare.

by Will (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 4:19pm

This is FO and I get to read that the SEC is "probably the overall strongest conference"???? and nothing else???

Thanks Stew Mandel. (Ohh wait, at least he uses random numbers -- poorly -- sometimes)

You can do better.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 4:27pm

Hey, is there any web address where the conference bowl records for, say, the last five years, or perhaps ten years, are kept current? I'm much too lazy to tabulate it myself......

by Will (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 4:28pm

Two last things:

1) I am not "Will Allen" who's posted above (just for clarity's sake)

2) I am a ND Fan/grad/whatever, and I honestly don't think that many of us are walking around saying "We are Notre Dame" and demanding a shot in the title game. (But thanks for the character assasination and hasty generalization.) The Michigan game is what it is, a Simmons-esue "No F---ing way game" in which every possible thing went wrong, including a defensive tuddie by UM in the final minute. It happens. They won, they won big, its over. We aren't gonna jump them.

Some Domers do remember 1993 however, when FSU jumped us... but alas, who cares.

by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 4:47pm

Will Allen- We're in total agreement. For some reason, whenever media discusses the playoff system possibilities, they just stick to the idea of the top eight or top sixteen ranked teams instead of the thunderingly obvious approach of limiting the field to conference champions.

Notre Dame could slide into the Big East as well. In any event, it's very simple- if an independent wants to compete for the championship, they join a conference, and every conference institutes a championship game or ensures that every team has played every other team in the conference. Voila- every team in the country has a legitimate opportunity to become national champions.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 4:59pm

Not only obvious, Sean, but very important, if the intensity of the conference races, and the regular seaon in general, is to be maintained. I'd actually prefer the current set-up to a sixteen team tournament.

by hrudey (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 5:27pm

Absolutely. If you aren't the champion of your conference, you should not be champion of the NCAA -- at least not in football.

by Frick (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 5:51pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the money that a school earns from the NCAA BB tourney get divided up amoung the schoools in the Conference just like the money from the Bowl games? While the big 4, now 5, Bowl games feature pay-outs north of 10M, most of the minor bowl games are in under 1M, which the team playing in the game subtracts their expenses, and the net is split among the conference.

How much could the NCAA sell the rights for a 8 or 16 team play-off for? Granted the conference that sent the most teams, or had the teams that performed the best might get more, I think for a program like Duke it would result in a net gain.

The play-off would only take money out of the hands of the bowl comittees.

The other issue is where would the games be held, at the home stadium of the higher seed, or the traditional bowl game locations.

p.s. I would love to see a all SEC or Big-12 South game on the Blue Turf of Boise St. in late Dec/early Jan.

by Russell Levine :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 7:35pm

Re: 104

Frick you miss the point that the NCAA does not control postseason football currently.

Nobody that I've seen has ever proposed a workable business arrangement to solve this issue. Yes, the NCAA could sell rights to a postseason football tournament for billions -- presuming it had those rights to sell.

What happens to the bowls? Are they going to just happily go out of business or cede control of their TV and marketing deals to the NCAA?

You cannot legitimately discuss a college football playoff until you solve this problem. The bowls exist separately from the NCAA. How you hammer the big-name games into an NCAA playoff, I have no idea.

I do agree, however, with those who have suggested that if we ever get a playoff, it be limited to conference champions. I have always advocated that the BCS should limit entry into its championship game to conference champions as well.

by jfolg (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 7:55pm

I don't know about who has the rights to a playoff or how the NCAA would go about its takeover, but I've got a playoff idea that I haven't heard before. It's a playoff, which makes most people happy, and it doesn't take away importance from the regular season, which makes everyone happy.

First, I agree: only conference champions. Use a committee or a BCS-type formula to slot the top 6 conference champs. Top two get byes. #3 and #4 play at home against #6 and #5. Winners play semifinal road games the next week against #1 and #2. Winners play two weeks later at a neutral site in the final.

Traditional bowls to be played the week between the semifinals and the final.
With this year's Jan 8th "BCS Title game," we've already started down this path with seemingly no controversy. Home teams keep some of the $$ generated by hosting their games, split most of it with their conference. NCAA distributes playoff TV and title-game money to competing conferences as well as to the now-second-tier Rose, Fiesta, Orange, and Sugar Bowls. Minor bowls don't change. Four major bowls only lose 6 teams, which isn't so much especially considering theyve already lost two this year and you could continue with the current four-year title game hosting rotation.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 8:16pm

Russell, what it takes is a Dick Ebersol figure plopping a gigantic sum of money down in front of the University Presidents, and thus convincing them to not renew their current contracts with the bowl committees, at least not in their current form. If the College Presidents informed the bowl committees that they weren't renewing in the current form, the groups in Pasadena, Miami, Glendale, and New Orleans could be convinced to participate on a rotating basis for the semifinals and finals. In years when they weren't in the rotation, they could still host New Years day games between teams which had been eliminated earlier in the tournament.

If a T.V. network looking to dominate eyeballs in December writes a big enough check, it could happen. It would help if the fall ratings sweeps ran from mid November to mid December, however.

by Flux (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 8:35pm

I have zero interest in a rematch. Aside from the sister-kissing aspect of such a thing, and the fact that no one outside of the midwest cares about either team, it's been done. Yeah, most top teams would split wins if they played more than once, but that doesn't mean fans want to see it. I'd much rather see OSU play the other best 1 loss team. USC, Notre Dame, Florida, whoever wins out.

As other have said though, this year really shows the need for a playoff system. We got lucky the past few years with multiple undefeateds, or exactly 2 top ones. Now we've got OSU and several contenders, and no real way to pick between them. Is there a football fan alive who wouldn't want to see say USC vs. OSU, Florida vs. Michigan, and the winners head to head for the title?

I doubt anything so lovely will ever happen, but the bowls would work fine for that... if there were 3 BCS bowl games. They'd just alternate semi-finals and finals, and everyone would be happy. With four though, someone's left out every year, and that'll never work. I don't think going to 8 team playoff works either; too many extra games and you need 7 bowls then, or some host more than one game. Six major bowls and the championship game rotates? Bleh.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/21/2006 - 9:16pm


Will the real reason not all the teams have a shot is it is a 119 team league with HUGE differences in ability. It really needs to be broken up into 5 different leagues.


by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 1:40am

Frick you miss the point that the NCAA does not control postseason football currently.

I must beg to differ. For example, the NCAA states that in order to be eligible for a bowl a team must have at least six wins.

Doesn't the NCAA oversee the BCS?

by chris (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 2:42am

While I agree with RL that there are some messy elements of making a playoff work, they're not impossible to deal with.

On the bowls: First off, the bowls have been so cheapened by their corporate ties that I wouldn't exactly cry if they hit the road. Chik-fil-a Bowl? Continental Tire Bowl? Are you kidding?

Secondly, the bowls are better off hosting playoff games that aren't dependent on programs "who travel well", something you don't have to worry about when the people in town are actually interested in watching your game.

The other, non-playoff, bowls would be more attractive to television and would still be able to use their current criteria in selecting available teams.

Not sure that that amounts to a business arrangement, but it does point to a scenario in which the bowls could be in better shape than they are right now.

(There is a tourism angle of bowls that isn't addressed for bowls that would participate in each playoff. But I'm too tired to write about it.)

by Bavasi (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 3:21am

re: 111

I think its a tad overstated to assume that stadiums will fill themselves. The beloved, untouchable, sacrosanct NCAA men's tournament often features pretty pedestrian attendence for the first set of games, and even if you assume that the football will be more important I'll counter with the extra 60,000 seats. I'm not sure Texas-Michigan with one week's notice would sell out the Rose Bowl.

by ejt (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 4:38am

I disagree that only conference champs should make a playoff. That would make non-conference games completely meaningless. Good rivalries, like Florida/Florida St, Notre Dame/USC, would be destroyed. If a playoff is instituted it should be no more than 4 teams and should choose the teams regardless of conference. That would keep the regular season exciting because every loss would be very costly.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 10:42am

Re: #110

The NCAA doesn't oversee the bowl system, including the BCS, except to set eligibility requirements and to certify bowl games as valid. However, the NCAA is required to certify any bowl that meets the requirements - which, as you may guess, are not exactly strict - which is why there are so many.

The main requirement is the bowl has to guarantee that it will have the money to pay the teams; the NCAA doesn't get a cut of ticket sales, etc. from any of the bowls, nor any cut of the TV rights.

This is why it's so difficult to look at some sort of playoff system. When people say "But Division I-AA (sorry - "NCAA Division I - Playoff") has a playoff!" But that playoff is wholly run by the NCAA - it gets its cut like it does every Division I regular-season game. But the bowls cut the NCAA completely out of the system - the NCAA officially recognizes no Division I-A football champion.

Now, the NCAA does have some trump cards it could use if it wanted - the NCAA does set when teams are allowed to play and practice, and it could simply say "No Division I-A teams can play football after the designated end of the season, which is (throwing out a day) December 12th".

Or, it can get rid of the 15 extra practices that bowl teams get - people often ask, "Why would (insert well-known team) even bother accepting a bid to the Emerald Bowl (or the old Weedeater Bowl, or any of those lower-tier games) that none of their fans care about?" The answer is that they get 15 more practices that non-bowl teams are not allowed to have, and those practices are why the teams accept the bids. Get rid of those (or allow all teams, bowl or not, to hold those 15 extra practices) and you'd kill off I'd say at least a third of the lower-tier bowl games - probably more. Big football schools (i.e. not the schools that would consider a lower-tier bowl to be a big deal, like Rice this year) generally lose money on those lower-tier bowl games that "pack" 15,000 fans into massive stadiums. The only reason those schools accept those bids is for the extra practices (and sometimes to keep a "bowl streak" alive).

So there are methods that could be used by the NCAA to exert some measure of control, but politically there's no way they could do something as draconian as the first method.

Even if we lead to a +1 model, or something, odds are it's still going to remain a separate-from-the-NCAA affair

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 10:50am

I also agree that any playoff should not be only conference champions, because then nonconference games lose some meaning. The USC/Notre Dame rivalry, the Florida/Florida State rivalry, etc. All those games would essentially mean nothing, because they could have no effect beyond perhaps playoff seeding - and if the playoffs use bowl sites, rather than campus sites, home field doesn't mean much.

Contrast that to this coming Saturday where the USC/Notre Dame game is pivotal in determining the makeup of the National Championship Game. You don't think every eyeball in the state of Michigan is going to be on that game? How about every eyeball in Florida?

Of course, one can say "But if one doesn't take just conference champions for a playoff, one might have a team that didn't win its conference win the championship!" In a playoff scenario (i.e. NFL), I think most people would be OK with that, whereas in a "one-game, two-participant" scenario, it's harder to stomach a non-conference champion being selected to participate over a team that did win its conference.

by Kyle J (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 12:01pm

There are a lot of statements in the comments above about what's "fair" or what people "would rather see." The stated purpose of the BCS system is "to match the two top-rated teams in a national championship game."


Any statement that Michigan shouldn't be in the title game must, therefore, be based on an argument that their performance this season is rated lower than another team (USC, Florida, etc.). Otherwise, the system is closer to being like professional boxing, where title matches are arranged based on financial decisions/etc. than it is like any system used to determine a champion in organized team sports.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 12:31pm

Re: #116.

Rated by who, or what?

Answer: the final BCS Standings.

Therefore, any argument that has Michigan not in the title game has nothing to do with whether one believes they are the second-best team, but rather whether one believes the BCS Standings will have them as the second-rated team.

Based on current projections, Michigan will not be the second-rated team in the final BCS Standings if the other teams in the top 4 win out.

by Kyle J (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 12:52pm

OK. Take it to the next step. What drives the BCS standings?

1) Computer-driven rankings--These rankings rate UM as the second best team.

2) Voter-driven rankings--If the voters truly believe USC's season rates ahead of UM's, so be it. But I have a hard time believing some voters haven't bumped UM down a spot because they don't want to see a rematch.

You can't pretend like the BCS standings are divinely revealed. They are driven by subjective judgements.

All I'm saying is that any argument that UM shouldn't play in the title game because (1) Ohio State shouldn't have to play them again or (2) the two teams are from the same conference is inconsistent with the stated purpose of the BCS system. Otherwise, those two things should be written into the BCS rules.

by Frick (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 1:07pm

Russell, I didn't miss the point. But the NCAA didn't/doesn't control the NIT tournament and look at what that has become.

I'm not saying it would be easy or pretty, but as someone said later "Money Talks" If a network that was out of the NFL and college football wanted to make a splash (see FOX when the got into the NFL) I bet a big enough check would get the NCAA interested.

What would the rights be worth?

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 1:14pm

Re: #118.

You're correct, but most of the computer operators have said that, should USC beat Notre Dame, the computers will then rank USC the second-best team. That is, Michigan's rank at #2 is only because USC hasn't finished its season, and Michigan has (working under the assumption that USC wins out, which is not a given).

In fact, in at least two computers, Michigan could end at #4, if Florida and USC win out.

As for the human polls, the BCS doesn't say "two best teams". It says "two highest-rated teams". Therefore, if the humans manipulate their rankings to change that rating, the BCS itself has still served its purpose, which is solely to match those two highest-rated teams. It is the polls that aren't serving their purpose if the voters manipulate - but the BCS is doing what it is meant to do.

by Russell Levine :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 1:28pm

Re: 119

Remember, the NCAA is also currently pleading its case before the House Ways and Means Committee that it deserves to keep its tax-exempt status as a non-profit organization.

I don't think now is the time for the NCAA to be soliciting a multi-billion dollar TV deal for a football playoff and using some of that money to pay the bowls to go out of business or bend to the whims of the NCAA. The bowls are also non-profits, and unlike the NCAA, many of them actually produce a fair bit of revenue for charitable causes.

by Kyle J (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 1:43pm

"It is the polls that aren’t serving their purpose if the voters manipulate - but the BCS is doing what it is meant to do."

OK. I'll agree with that.

by Cristian (not verified) :: Wed, 11/22/2006 - 8:48pm


If they would limit the current championship game to conf. champs that would have solved this current debate. Kinda wish they would have made that stipulation, seems like a legitamite way to limit the chance of a rematch.

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 12:24am

If they would limit the current championship game to conf. champs that would have solved this current debate.

I disagree: for starters, you'd always run the risk of having an tOSU v Texas rematch (had UT not lost to KSU) or maybe even a Michigan v Notre Dame (Had Notre Dame beaten Michigan, but then Michigan beats tOSU) rematch.

People complained in 2003 when OU got into the National Title Game without winning their conference. To me it's odd to say that losing to North Texas or UCLA keeps a team's chances alive, but a loss to Kansas State does not.

Kinda wish they would have made that stipulation, seems like a legitamite way to limit the chance of a rematch.

Or, they could simply say "no rematches".

by Cristian (not verified) :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 5:25am


You are right about that, I guess it would "limit" the chance of conference teams playing against each other, but yea non conference teams could end up playing against each other.

Like I said before, (and was apparently made fun of by some idiot) I could care less if they rematch with Michigan,.. but if you add in stipulations like you stated (no rematches or no non-conf. champs) than we at least limit the field to teams that "won" during the regular season. I mean Michigan didn't win their Conf. championship. It could be analgous to saying that the Yankees didn't win the AL championship last year, so why would they get a shot to play the Tigers again, even though they had a better record than the Cards.

by Cristian (not verified) :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 5:29am


IQ = 55

Me makY sense?

by chris (not verified) :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 12:32pm

Re 112: Not really sure that most bowls are filling those stadiums up as it is. A few do.

The point is that most bowls would get an upgrade, either in terms of a great matchup or the opportunity to see a quality team in a first-round game. Even bowls without playoff games would benefit from the overflow of better teams they'd inherit.

Any of the four major bowls could do well if they're already slated to host a championship or semifinal game in a year or two in advance, similar to the Final Four. Doesn't require Don King to promote that.

Re 121: Is it the case that most bowls make enough to send a fair bit of revenue to charitable causes?

by nick (not verified) :: Thu, 11/23/2006 - 4:01pm

This debate explains why I will not watch college football, until there is a playoff system. Even on the rare occasions you end up with 2 undefeated teams, factors such as strength of schedule and "Any Given Saturday" (even a great team can have one bad game, injury, or referee error) mean that a 1-loss team could be the best. As Rutgers almost showed, an undefeated record does not necessarily mean much. I should know - I was a Florida State fan in the 1990s, when our strength of schedule was so easy that we had a one game season (Florida, at home half the time), and if we won, we'd be in the national championship game.
A playoff system would solve everything. To win, a team would have to win 3 consecutive games against elite opposition at neutral sites. There could be no debate at that point.
The BCS rankings are often maligned, but those actually are pretty good. They are a transparent system for ranking teams, with both human (biased/common sense) and computer (unbiased) input. This is better than college basketball, with its opaque "10 men in a room in Kansas" approach. I would keep the BCS rankings and use them to seed the playoffs, with the 6 conference champions plus the 2 highest remaining BCS teams in the 8-team playoff, with possibly some special consideration for Notre Dame or undefeated non-BCS teams (like Boise State).
Opponents of a playoff argue that it would take away from the excitement of the regular season. That is silly. More teams would be involved for longer, as one early loss doesn't kill you. Winning the conference is even more important, as it is a ticket to the tournament, not just a BCS bowl, plus it means you don't face the lottery of being selected as one one of the at-large. Just like avoiding 1 loss now, teams could not afford 2 losses. And seeding would be critical - the winner of the OSU-Michigan would get the #1 seed, and face the bottom seed (ACC or Big East winner), instead of falling to maybe the #3 or #4 seed, and facing the SEC winner or Notre Dame. Anyway, no system could make undefeated #1 vs #2 OSU-Michigan irrelevant.
Playoffs... please!